Nirvana’s horrified reactions to 1993 ticket prices are a sweet


When cultural commentators look back on the 1990s, they tend to associate ‘Generation X’ and its most totemic figureheads as painfully self-aware and jaded, paralysed by a sense of ennui and cloaked in layer upon layer of irony.

How refreshing then to see archive footage [uncovered and posted by Happy Mag] showing one of the decade’s most iconic anti-heroes, Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, at his most unguarded and natural, his face registering genuine astonishment, disbelief and horror when he and his then-bandmates, bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl, are informed that there are musical artists with who they might share, say, a music festival’s VIP area, or an MTV hospitality room, who have the gall to charge anywhere between $50 and $75 for a concert ticket.

“There are people who charge that much?” gasps an incredulous Cobain, seemingly  blithely unaware that his scrappy little punk band are no longer playing all-ages all-dayers at The Vogue or the Central Tavern in downtown Seattle, and that having a Billboard 200-topping album, as Nirvana did in 1992 with Nevermind, brackets them closer to Barbara Streisand than Gruntruck on the live circuit.

At one point during what we assume is a TV interview, Nirvana ask their off-screen manager John Silva how much they are charging for live gigs, and exactly what percentage of this they, as a band, are banking each time they step onstage. 

Informed that on a $20 ticket price, they collectively share 25% of the net, Cobain mumbles something about never being great at school, and there’s a beat of silence as some hasty mental calculations are made, with the consensus being that each band member will receive about $1.75 per ticket sold, meaning that performing in 7,500 to 10,000 capacity venues on the In Utero tour they can expect to trouser up to $10,000 each per gig. 

At which point a child-like grin spreads across Kurt Cobain’s face as he realises that he might not be Madonna, but equally he’s not going to have to forage a half-eaten Big Mac from a dumpster after his next gig.


Simpler times indeed.

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