Rock Archives: Nirvana’s 1989 NYC Pyramid Club Show


Seattle Grunge lands in New York City

By Floyd The Barber

January 10, 2024

Pyramid Club, NYC

On July 18th, 1989, Nirvana played their first ever show in New York City at the Pyramid Club. The venue was located at 101 Avenue A in Manhattan on the outskirts of the East Village. They had released their debut album Bleach just days before and were building a reputation at home in Seattle as a visceral live act and across the country through college radio airplay. The show itself was notable for several reasons that we’ll summarize here. Shout out to whoever captured this piece of history on video.

Nirvana’s drummer, Chad Channing, was late. Kurt was pissed and never really let it go, hatching a plan at that moment to replace Chad. His replacement would end up being Dave Grohl. The most significant element of the show though was not the band's presence, but the presence of some key audience members. In attendance was Gary Gersh, A&R for Geffen records. Nirvana at that moment were looking to jump ship from their current label Sub Pop and were interested in signing to Geffen. Gersh was impressed enough to call the band afterward, triggering the sequence of events that would lead to the label change.

Also in attendance was none other than the Godfather of Punk himself, Iggy Pop. Iggy was also impressed by the performance, recounting in many interviews that he saw the band's potential for white hot fame that night. To add even more flavor to the soup, Kurt was walking around the bar afterwards in a Stooges shirt, with no idea The Stooges frontman was watching. Talk about serendipity. Here’s a short clip of Iggy reflecting on Kurt Cobain's life and death.