Dave Grohl: ‘I Was F–king Terrified’ Before Nirvana’s 1992 Reading Festival Show
Nirvana’s 1992 headlining performance at the Reading Festival is often celebrated as one of the greatest rock gigs in history. 35,000 people came to see the band, who had just become one of the biggest on Earth, and for months before the concert, drummer Dave Grohl found himself overcome with panic.
“Smells Like Teen Spirit” exploded like an atomic bomb once it was released in September 1991, changing the landscape of music so drastically, hair metal was completely wiped from the airwaves. “It really did feel like you were at the start of a revolution,” Grohl recalls during an interview with NME.
Having performed on Reading’s midcard the previous year, Grohl knew how gigantic a headlining spot really was. “I was fucking terrified. I would wake up every morning in this panic attack in a fit of anxiety, knowing that there was this festival that I was going to have to play in front of 35,000 people – which I had never done. When we got there that day, I realized how big it really was,” Grohl shared.
“So much had happened in those 12 months,” he said. “The band had obviously had its ups and downs … I didn’t expect much. Kurt [Cobain] had been in and out of rehab, the band hadn’t really done much in the months leading up to it and everything just seemed sort of scattered and disconnected. We’d had one rehearsal a few days before and it just didn’t feel grounded.”
Reflecting further, the legend went on, “It was an amazing show. It had a lot to do with the audience, I think. I remember walking backstage and bumping into friends from other bands who would look at me and say, What are you doing here?’ I’d say ‘We’re fucking headlining!’ and they’d say, ‘You’re actually gonna play?’ They were just surprised we showed up. For it to turn out to be such a beautiful evening was just something else, and unfortunately the last time we played the U.K.”
Grohl’s likely more used to giant crowds these days having turned the Foo Fighters into one of modern rock’s few stadium bands. The Foos are planning to release a new album in 2020, marking their 10th studio release.
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