Frank Micelotta, Getty It was 19 years ago today that Nirvana singer Kurt…
- Posted on Oct 3rd 2011 5:30PM by Sam Sutherland
Sam Sutherland for AOL
Oct. 1 marked the sixth annual Nuit Blanche in Toronto, which featured the much-hyped 'A Brief History of Rebellion,' or, to many, 'The 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' Thing.' The concept was simple -- musicians from Toronto were going to perform the Nirvana classic 144 times in a row, for 12 straight hours. Organized by local media/arts collective Juicebox, the event gained momentum thanks to support from members of F---ed Up, Tokyo Police Club, Alexisonfire-affiliated Gallows, and the other players who took the stage.
Sam Sutherland, an organizer of the event and co-founder of Juicebox (as well as Spinner contributor), offers a full recap of the festivities that took place at Toronto Underground Cinema, an old Chinese movie theater buried deep below street level in the city's downtown. Shockingly, the 12 hours flew by, thanks to some surprise appearances, mash-ups, and the occasional klezmer band.
7PM -- There are already people here, including three who announce their intention to last the entire 12 hours. Only one does. We begin. Then, we begin again.
8PM -- Guelph punks the Decay arrive two minutes before their scheduled time as an hour-long backing band. The band has been stuck in traffic and misses their scheduled practice time. Their first performance is their first time playing the song together, ever. Guitarist Tyler Savage figures out his solo a little better every time, and by the end of the hour, he can almost play it properly.
10PM -- The first "Big Name" guests begin to show up, with CBC Radio 3 personality Vish Khanna pounding out a repetition on drums before partnering with rapper D-Sisive for a beautiful duet performance. Their attempts to start a mosh pit are quickly squashed by insurance concerns raised by the already booze-slicked floor of the theater.
10:30PM -- Silverstein bassist Billy Hamilton joins classic rockers Teenage Kicks, belting out a note-perfect version before picking up a bass and, hilariously, forgetting the post-chorus section completely.
11PM -- Recent Arts & Crafts signees the Darcys take to the stage and quickly draw first blood when guitarist and vocalist Jason Couse rips his finger open, spraying blood all over a rented guitar and quickly handing if off to an audience volunteer. At one point in the band's set, only one actual member is still on stage, and folk singer-songwriter Basia Bulat is left playing bass.
12AM -- Half of the members of the Flatliners take to the stage with half of the members of Junior Battles, before Spookey Ruben leaps onto second guitar. The result is a dueling guitar solo that finds Ruben halfway into the crowd, tearing into one of the most outrageous interpretations of the night. He returns to scream into the mic for a solid 45 seconds following the song's final ring-out.
12:05AM -- After only expecting a member or two of Tokyo Police Club to show up, the entire band arrives, ready to play. When vocalist David Monks can't be found, Wade MacNeil from Gallows (and former guitarist and vocalist in Alexisonfire) steps up to front the band. The outfit is appropriately sloppy for the late hour, and MacNeil is appropriately fierce given his hardcore background. It is amazing.
2:00AM -- F---ed Up frontman Damian Abraham arrives at the theater and is on stage within minutes. On a lone day-off from an exhausting North American tour, Pink Eyes still gives a performance befitting his stature and image, lovingly attacking the front row of the audience and growling through the parts of the song (ie: the second verse) that no one seems to actually know the words to.
2:10AM -- Having just finished opening for Drag the River at the Horseshoe Tavern around the corner, local bluegrass punk Snakeoil Salesmen of Southern Ontario manage to totally silence a theater of 600 people to perform an unplugged, inspired version of the song.
2:30AM -- Another rag-tag group, featuring Gentleman Reg, Laura Barrett, members of Weezer cover band Sheezer and Tokyo Police Club, crash through a version of the song that includes more high-flying leg kicks than any other performance throughout the night.
3:00AM -- The Decay return to the stage, with Savage now fully capable of playing the guitar solo. Erik Hughes from Moneen and Cunter joins the band on drums.
5:00AM -- I'm told while eating backstage, "You have to come out here. There is a full klezmer band that wants to play." They play. It's the turning point of the night, restoring everyone's energy and providing one of the best, strangest moments of the entire 12 hours.
5:10AM to 7AM -- After an encore performance from the Lemon Bucket Orchestra, the next two hours fly by; audience members swap out instruments and take turns singing. At 6:55AM everyone from the now-dwindling crowd gets on stage for the final repetition. At 7:01AM we play the first few bars of 'In Bloom,' the second song from 'Nevermind' which follows 'Smells Like Teen Spirit,' and walk off stage.