Watching the YouTube video I can almost hear the sound of a tape rewinding backwards as the frozen images of what was to come evaporate to a time when things were much simpler for Kurt Cobain. Before he turned the world of rock ‘n’ roll upside down for the decade ahead and sealed his place in the 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. On this September night he was just an unknown, long-haired, troubled 20-something musician in a band called Nirvana releasing his musical rage to a tiny club literally one mile from my dorm room.

It was September 26th, 1991. A Thursday night to be exact. It was just two days after the release of their first major label album called Nevermind and just three days before “Smells Like Teen Spirit” was to debut on MTV’s 120 Minutes. Nirvana was playing at a small club in New Haven called The Moon.

Before the tragic suicide, before the highly-publicized escape from rehab, before the near-death overdoses, before his face was on the cover of every music magazine, before Frances Bean, before Courtney Love and before MTV made them overnight flag-carriers of the new Grunge movement, Nirvana was just a working band passing through town looking to make a name for themselves anywhere they were welcome to perform.

I was a 19-year old sophomore at Southern Connecticut State University living on the fifth floor of Farnham Hall that night. I was years away from getting my first professional radio gig. I was months away from joining in on the weekly ritual of Thursday night drinking until passing out with my college buddies. I was only weeks if not days away from meeting the person who would become my first true love Lori. But even closer to me that night, literally a mile away as I was likely lying on my bed staring at the ceiling of my dimly-lit dorm room, was Kurt Cobain was strumming his guitar and singing his guts out.

What I would give to go back to that night now. To find my roommate Chris Robinson and floor-mate/best friend Mike Celano and head out into that early fall night with the early-fallen leaves kicking around us as we head to the club. To walk into that dingy, smoke-filled room and see Kurt Cobain, Krist Novaselic and Dave Grohl play for me and a few hundred people with the fire and passion of a band who was playing Madison Square Garden.

The Moon is no longer. If you Google the address 399 Whalley Ave, New Haven you’ll see it’s now an apartment complex. All that remains of the venue is a fan Facebook page and maybe a few photos on the internet. But what does remain from that autumn night in 1991 is a video preserved permanently on YouTube which gets me as close to my missed Nirvana moment as I’ll ever get.

Hindsight is always 20/20. If I only knew then what I know now.

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