DECADES BEFORE HARRY Styles angered conservatives by wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue, Kurt Cobain regularly dipped his toes in gender fluidity — donning dresses and makeup onstage, in photo shoots, or just hanging at friend’s houses. One memorable moment is when the late Nirvana frontman performed an encore in a lace slip and tiara, at Rio de Janeiro’s Hollywood Rock festival on January 23rd, 1993.
The show was the band’s second performance in Brazil that month; the previous one, on January 16th in São Paulo, was less than ideal. It was their first time performing since October 1992, and it showed. The messy set was packed with covers like Duran Duran’s “Rio” and Queen’s “We Will Rock You” (Cobain changed the lyrics to: “We will fuck you”), and at one point Krist Novoselic even threw his bass at Cobain and left the stage. Though the evening had some high points — Flea playing saxophone on “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the band debuting “Heart-Shaped Box” — the band has cited it as one of their worst shows.
Following the chaos of São Paulo, the Rio show on January 23rd was seen as a chance for redemption, and they capped off the set with a lengthy “Scentless Apprentice.” In the video above, Cobain returns for the encore as Dave Grohl — wearing a bra and a backwards cap — and Krist Novoselic jam on Aerosmith’s “Sweet Emotion.” Cobain wades through the opening chords of “Dive,” an early gem that was released off the compilation Incesticide a month earlier.
The clip of “Dive” would wind up on 1994’s Live! Tonight! Sold Out!!, and Courtney Love later hailed it as her favorite Nirvana song. “It is so sexy, and sexual, and strange, and haunting,” she told Charles R. Cross in his Cobain biography, Heavier Than Heaven. “I thought it was genius.”
Cobain died 27 years ago today, while Nevermind turns 30 years old this fall. Post Malone recently performed a 15-song Nirvana tribute while wearing Cobain-inspired floral dress, but sadly “Dive” was not one of them.