The 50 Greatest Concerts of the Last 50 Years

From Led Zeppelin's U.S. debut to Jay Z and Kanye West's 'Watch the Throne' spectacle, and beyond

Load Previous
Sonic Youth and Nirvana European Tour
50
Paul Natkin/WireImage/Getty, Paul Bergen/Redferns/Getty36/50

Sonic Youth and Nirvana European Tour

In the summer before they released Nevermind, Nirvana were still a largely unknown band. They booked a series of European festival dates, opening for their friends Sonic Youth – and witnessed for the first time their power to convert and ignite huge crowds. "It was passionate. It was reckless," says Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth, who also astounded audiences with their New York noise-rock. "[Nirvana] were going on at 2:00 in the afternoon, playing a 20-minute set. But there was this massive amount of pogo'ing going on." With drummer Dave Grohl on tour with the band for the first time, and the new Nevermind material, Nirvana were received almost like headliners. Kurt Cobain biographer Charles Cross called it Cobain's "happiest time as a musician." Recalls Grohl, "Everything was still very innocent." A documentary of the tour, 1991: The Year Punk Broke, captured Cobain spraying champagne all over a dressing room and Grohl and bassist Krist Novoselic gleefully tearing through a backstage cheese plate. The high point for Moore was in Brussels, where security tried to stop Nirvana's nightly ritual of smashing their gear, and Novoselic had to be pulled down as he tried to climb up the closing stage curtains. "It was," says Moore, "the most perverse, deconstructed, psychedelic freakout concert I've ever seen." J.D.

Back to Top