On the 17th of April 1991 a band called Nirvana played a new track in a dingy, smoke-filled club in Seattle, Washington - that would go on to define a generation.
'Even before the first chorus, I knew I was witnessing something special. I tried to keep my focus on the band while holding my arms up as a shield against the many human bumper cars around me. The sheer power of the three people on stage was incomprehensible, even for someone who’d seen hundreds of shows, as I had by then. Just drums, bass, one guitar, and one voice — how was it so huge? And why was it affecting me so deeply?
Dave Grohl’s drums trembled, and his cymbals swayed like toys, but he never overpowered his own tremendous swing. Kurt Cobain’s guitar sound was violent and arresting, like his amp was on fire. When it squealed with feedback, I winced and lost my balance, and when he played power chords, they hit me like wind from a jet engine. His guttural scream carried more scratching humanity and intensity than any singer I’d ever heard.'
'The four chords that made up “Smells Like Teen Spirit” were hardly innovative; they’d been used in countless rock songs. The song didn’t even have a bridge. But the combination of the simple, catchy parts played by this three-piece powerhouse for the first time that night was somehow significantly greater than the sum of its parts. Even the drum part was a hook, and Kurt’s high notes in the chorus etched into my brain more each time he sang them. By the end of the night, “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was stuck in my head permanently.' - via
Just four simple cords started a revolution that spread across the world.
There was nothing technically remarkable about 'Smells like teen spirit' as a piece of music, but the time and age into which this sound was introduced were the perfect conditions for it to spark a revolution.
Nirvana had no idea what they were about to unleash, but they also didn't seem to have any real intention of 'changing the world' - they just had a killer song to share with a room full of kids and they gave it their best.
After 30 years the world feels like a very different place to what it did in 1991, but there is still a lot of need for those with original ideas and creativity to share their gifts with a small audience of fans.