Who doesn’t remember the first time they heard Nirvana, specifically “Smells Like Teen Spirit”? For a certain group of us, we had just survived a childhood overrun with L.A. bands that had huge hair, lots of spandex, and inundated us with sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll. It was fun and slightly naughty music that made you want to party on the Sunset Strip, or maybe try your hand at exotic dancing. It wasn’t until the early 90’s that popular music made a drastic change, like a pendulum swinging all the way back the other way. The music coming out of Seattle made the flashy style of 80’s hair bands downright vulgar. This new music, grunge as it was called, related to kids growing up in tough situations, buying your clothes at second hand shops, and saving all summer for a pair of Doc Martins 8-holes (true story!). For the first time in a very long time, popular music was blowing our minds.
It’s not unusual to find revival (or tribute) bands gigging around town. From U2 to Gun-n-Roses, bands are sprouting up that bring back fond memories and offer ample opportunities to sing along with familiar tunes. In the Name of Cobain, arguably the best Nirvana tribute band in central Europe gives Nirvana fans the possibly never before opportunity to hear Nirvana play live.
In the Name of Cobain is a three-piece (of course), and their staging is straight out of 1993’s Mtv Live and Loud performance. The stage is flanked on either side by the anatomically correct angels of In Utero, the bass drum has the classic Nirvana logo of the smiley face with X’d out eyes, and Martin Hájek, In the Name of Cobain’s frontman (interestingly enough one month from his 27th birthday) looks so much like Cobain it will make you smile and break your heart at the same time. As for the rest of the band, Dave Grohl wishes he was as beautiful as drummer Dominika Plešingerová. It’s refreshing to see a young woman (19!) rock out on drums, her long blonde hair thrashing about and keeping great time. On bass is Vladimír Zotov, a dark and brooding Krist Novoselic who interacts the most with the crowd, standing on the edge of the stage, with fans almost touching their noses to his bass.
Hájek picked up guitar at fifteen, though he had no idea his future would be so intertwined with Kurt Cobain. “We share a few things in our backgrounds. I had a hard time fitting in at school, and lived with my older brother who didn’t have much time for me. Even so, I made it through those times and look back on it as life experience. I won’t share the same fate as Kurt Cobain.” Hájek says what appeals to him, aside from looking and sounding eerily similar to Cobain himself, is Nirvana’s difficult style with frequent bass solos, intricate drums, and heavy rhythms.
Stardom isn’t in the cards for most bands. Plenty of talented musicians have said, “if I haven’t made it by thirty, I’m done.” Forming a revival band may be viewed as a musical short-cut, but the music still requires talented musicians who have as much drive and often talent as their musical inspirations. As Hájek states, “There are a lot of good bands that have failed to win, so part of it is luck. What is indispensable in a band is how much work you donate to it, how much you trust it, and your relationship with your bandmates.” For that, I think Kurt Cobain would agree.
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