Using his popularity for good, Post Malone treated fans to a 75-minute-long livestream of Nirvana covers and used the performance as an opportunity to raise money for the COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund for WHO.
Joined on bass by Brian Lee and Nick Mack on guitar (playing from Post’s house in Salt Lake City), and on drums by Blink-182’s Travis Barker, all four musicians were connected via in-ears making for a seamless mix that cycled through shots of each one playing.
Nearly 200,000 tuned in within 5 minutes of Post going live at 3 p.m. PT. and were treated to a greatest hits set of songs by the beloved grunge band, including such favorites as “Come as You Are,” “In Bloom,” “Lithium” and “Heart-Shaped Box.” At one point, Post acknowledged that Courtney Love, widow of late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, and Krist Novoselic, Nirvana’s bassist, were watching on YouTube (see the show in its entirety below).
No stranger to the Nirvana catalog, Post explained that the band’s songs were his go-to while on tour, often turning into a backstage jam before or after shows (he’s also been known to perform “No Apologies” live). The stream was equally raw, though well-rehearsed (Post said they only had two run-throughs), and featured his signature vocal inflection — lest you think it was purely a ProTools creation — and “no autotune at all,” he sheepishly boasted midway through. “Everybody knows that I can’t sing for s–t,” he cracked.
Standing in front of his home bar, where Bud Light is on tap, Post (and Lee) wore a flower dress that would have made Cobain proud seeing as the Nirvana singer was known for eschewing gender norms when it came to his own onstage fashion. Smoking cigarettes and bantering between songs, he revealed that a new Post Malone album is coming. “I’m trying to put it out as soon as I f–ing can,” said Post. “I’m really proud of the music that we’re making.”
Elsewhere throughout the webcast, he pleaded with viewers to donate (Google will match every dollar raised with $2 — some $500,000 in total for the Post stream) and shared his enthusiasm for the task at hand: to entertain, above all else.
Indeed, you sensed that Post, who was several dates into a tour of arenas when the coronavirus shut live music down, really misses engaging with an audience, and, like the rest of us, might be feeling a little stir crazy. Certainly that explains the bluster by which he delivered the hard-driving “School” with its “no recess” refrain, “Territorial Pissings” with its mantra to “find a better way” and the “Breed” lyrics, “I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care, I don’t care.”
Mostly, Post stayed true to the originals, going so far as to enlist Lee to grab a violin for “Something in the Way,” the closest Nirvana came to a ballad (off of 1991’s “Nevermind,” home to much of the set list). Post would later jab: “Would you call that a fiddle?”
Lee provided more than stellar playing, his harmonies were on point, particularly during “On a Plain,” and he helped take some of the pressure off of Post’s vocal cords, which were starting to sound strained by the time he got to show closer “In Bloom.”
Perhaps the most poignant moment came when Post introduced the song “Stay Away”: “A long time ago, I got this song tattooed on my face.”
A few more hints to Post’s isolation obsessions were dropped throughout the livestream, including shout-outs to the Powerpuff Girls, Boba Fett, Jiffy Lube, Applebees and Little Caesars. He wrapped the performance clearly jubilant, telling the viewers, “What a f–ing blast.”
Post Malone-Nirvana tribute set list:
Frances Farmer Will Have Her Revenge on Seattle
Come as You Are
Something in the Way
About a Girl
On a Plain