Saturday, April 5th was, as we all know, the 20 year anniversary of Kurt Cobain‘s death. Exactly a week prior to the anniversary, kilScene.com was invited to come down to the Parkside Lounge in New York City to witness on Kurt’s D-day, Lounge Act, a band who pays tribute to the greatness of Nirvana and what they meant to the music loving world.
… more than likely, you were a fan of Nirvana’s brand of riotous rock.
If you grew up during the alternative music explosion of the 90’s, then sure enough, you know how important Nirvana was to that movement, and more than likely, you were a fan of Nirvana’s brand of riotous rock. Childhood friends Anthony Nater (drums), Justin Ditondo (guitar/vocals), and Anthony Ruggiero (bass) grew up in the same town in Northern New Jersey. They went to the same school and they had the same passion: paying tribute to their favorite band of all time: Nirvana. Nirvana officially ended the day that Kurt did, and as such, there was a legion of Nirvana fans (such as myself), who were either too young (like I was) or just unlucky in the fact they they never had the chance to see Nirvana live. Enter Lounge Act!
… his aggression was on pitch.
If I could be honest, I was a little skeptical going down to the bar/venue. It’s not so much that Nirvana’s music is that hard to play. If you know how to play an instrument, you can pretty much play Nirvana’s music to perfection. My worry was with the lead singer, Justin. Would he be able to pull Kurt Cobain off? Kurt was more than just a screaming demon. There was passion behind his voice. Kurt brought it up from his gut and just let it fly; what’s more, even when Kurt seemed like he was just screaming out his aggression, his aggression was on pitch. Could Justin pull it off?
modern day Hootie/Dave Matthews knock off, strumming on his acoustic and singing about I-don’t-care-what.
A Stone Temple Pilots tribute band was supposed to open up the show that night. You can imagine my surprise when I arrive at the bar (with a small makeshift stage situated in a cramped back room), with my woman on my arm, to find some blah modern day Hootie/Dave Matthews knock off, strumming on his acoustic and singing about I-don’t-care-what. What the fuck was this? Maybe the Stone Temple Pilots tribute band was late. Hell, we were late in getting to the place but I didn’t recall them mentioning a third act for that night. I found out that this guy was a last minute act since I faux-Scott Weiland got the flu or something to that effect. That explains it.
A bass/drum duo playing Nirvana? Something was obviously wrong.
Knock off Hootie finished his set. I saw some flannel-clad gentlemen setting up. This must be Lounge Act. For the longest time, I’m only seeing the drummer and the bass player at this point and I started to think that these two gents were going to be performing Nirvana’s songs as a duo. A bass/drum duo playing Nirvana? Something was obviously wrong.
… it doesn’t take too long to figure out that he was referring to “I Hate Myself And Want To Die“
It’s getting close to show time and finally, FINALLY, there he was. Justin walks onto the tiny stage after he retrieved his guitar from its case. It’s a Fender Jaguar, of course (what else would it be?). I had spoken with Anthony a little bit before the performance to ask if they were going to play (my favorite Nirvana song) “Aneurysm“. Anthony assures me that they are. He also clued me into the fact that they were going to open up their set with a Nirvana song that wasn’t on any one of their studio albums. Now, being the Nirvana fan that I am, it doesn’t take too long to figure out that he was referring to “I Hate Myself And Want To Die” from 1993’s The Beavis and Butthead Experience (a compilation album of some of the 1990’s heavy hitters.) You know what? It didn’t stink.
My worry about Justin being able to do Kurt’s vocal justice wasn’t alleviated until the band hit their 2nd song, “Heart-Shaped Box“.
These boys knew their Nirvana. They remained true to the Nirvana’s music and didn’t deviate from the formula set by the future hall of famers. My worry about Justin being able to do Kurt’s vocal justice wasn’t alleviated until the band hit their 2nd song, “Heart-Shaped Box“. If I had one critique of Justin’s performance, I’ll say that his voice could’ve used a little bit more gravel, but aside from that, if you closed your eyes, you were listening to Nirvana live and really, what more could you ask for?
Overall, Lounge Act had me hooked through their whole performance. Everyone that was lucky enough to be at the Parkside Lounge this past Saturday was singing along to ever word that spewed out of Justin’s mouth. Anthony (Nater) was bashing away (Dave Grohl would have been proud.) Anthony (Ruggiero) was hitting all of Krist Novoselic‘s bass lines and just like Krist liked to do whenever performing, Anthony was dancing around, feeling every song that the band was playing. There might never be another Nirvana ever again in life, but the band left a legacy of such rich and memorable material, that, if it wasn’t for bands like Lounge Act, Nirvana’s music would only reside in the original recordings. Nirvana was a band that shined out during their live performances and I’m more than happy that Lounge Act exists to keep Nirvana’s flame alive.