Kurt Cobain’s attempt to compose the perfect pop song his way (and with a little help from The Pixies and Boston’s “More than a Feeling”) resulted in 1991’s Nevermind opening track and hit single “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The track became the anthem of 90s teen angst and a theme song for the grunge movement in general. It also eventually became the most overplayed and abused song to ever come from an unlikely successful and punk-inspired group. Even worse, it was endorsed by the audiences in which the band considered themselves in opposition. I recall sitting at a pep rally in junior high as the cheerleaders danced to it and the football players cheered. I wanted nothing to do with Nirvana anymore. Anal Cunt was my jam after that.
Since the early 90s, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” has further been exhausted by oblivious tools such as Hannah Montana, Metallica, Flyleaf (yeah, I don’t know, some Christian band), Chris Brown (he just kind of dances to the actual track), and some kid on American Idol. And now, after you’ve just exited an elevator that was playing a muzak version of it, here’s an announcement about one more version: a number of Ontario rockers will meet up at the Toronto Underground Cinema to perform Nirvana’s beaten-to-death ditty 144 times in a row on October 1 as their contribution to the many Nevermind 20th anniversary festivities this year. That’s right, 144 times.
The performance, titled A Brief History of Rebellion, will feature a rotating cast of musicians, including members of Tokyo Police Club, Fucked Up, Woodhands, Gallows, One Hundred Dollars, The Flatliners, Junior Battles, Buck 65, and D-Sisive, with even more musicians to be announced in the coming weeks. Lyrics will be provided to audience members who would like to chant along.
It goes without saying that this doesn’t need to happen. At all. But in defense of the organizers of this event, perhaps this is more of a performance art piece? To overplay the overplayed. To create a live experience of the song’s strength and meaning decaying through repetition, right in front of your face. Nah, they don’t know what they’re doing. This is just another performance presented by Juicebox, which runs as part of Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, a series of all-night events taking place throughout Toronto on October 1 to “celebrate the arts.”