I completed my final year of high school in 1994. I vividly remember being at home alone, studying and listening to JJJ when the death of Kurt Cobain was announced on the radio. Like many people of my generation, I was affected by this news and shocked. During high school I drank beer in my backyard with my friends singing the words to Nirvana ‘I’m on plain, I can’t complain’. One of my older sisters friends brought me a cassette copy of Nirvana Bleach, explaining it’s importance and that I had to listen.
The following summer, I’d finished high school, with very bad grades and my friends and I went to The Big Day Out. Courtney Love, the lead singer of Hole - was one of the headline acts. At this time Love was in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, causing havoc around the country as Cobain’s mourning widow. I was in the mosh-pit during Hole’s set. Maybe it was mix of weed, beer and sun; whatever it was, I got swept up in a sea of movement and passed out in the crowd, falling under a stampede of uncaring stomping feet. Some complete stranger, a lot stronger than me, picked me up by the scruff of the neck. This guy shook me sharply, then slapped me across the face and screamed directly at me to ‘snap out of it’.
As I came to, a different feeling washed over me, I wasn’t as disconnected, I started to feel right at home here. I felt like, people do actually care. Before me Love was there on stage swilling on a bottle of bourbon, smoking cigarettes and a hurling abuse at the crowd. Love had one leg with giant heals resting on the amplifier and a heavy guitar draped around her. She was singing like a wounded cat, and was pissed off at the world – I understood the tone, I connected with the grief and the anger – there was a lot to be pissed off at. I’d been to lots gigs before, but this different, this wasn’t just a gig; this was a moment, an event documenting something about my generation and what we stood for.
I wasn’t just in the crowed watching a gig; I realized that I was a member of generation X, living out the story of this music. This was unlike the generations that came before and definitely different to the ones that would come after us. Seeing Love on stage that Big Day Out has had a lasting affected me. It wasn’t just because of the music, but what it represented. It was the signpost to the future and the sum of the past. It captured the mood of the times and gave me a reason to getup in the morning. This moment still motivates me to find any kind of purpose to stay motivated and keep going.
Picture: Courtney Love, Hole, Melbourne, 1995; Tony Mott