On Friday night I almost took my knitting to a Nirvana tribute show but I didn’t get a chance. Let me explain.
When it comes to knitting in public, I truly have no shame. I’ll knit anywhere, any time, and I do. Once in a while it brings on comments of derision or just plain confusion, but mostly people I know who are not knitters have come to terms with it and life goes on. They might say ‘oh she’s the one who’s always knitting’ with a knowing nod or bit of an eye roll but generally, it’s no big deal.
Sometimes during the week I’ll go sit in a cafe by myself at lunch time and knit. I’ll stick on my headphones to get a chapter or two of my audiobook knocked over, with a pot of tea and some knitting. Or if it’s a lovely day I’ll sit in the park opposite my work and pass an hour in the shade of a big tree, like the day I took this photo of knitting my Egelbad doily in summer.
On a side note, regarding audiobooks, I’m all about stalking the celebrities and their audiobooks right now. I just finished listening to licorice voiced Alan Rickman reading Thomas Hardy’s The Return of the Native and am currently devouring another favourite English actress, Emillia Fox (from crime show Silent Witness) reading Pride and Prejudice. It’s fabulous. It’s like I’m reading P&P for the first time!)
Anyway, onto public knitting moments that didn’t happen.
Friday night. The one just gone. We were supposed to go to a gig at a local venue called The Basement. Ok let’s be honest and call it a dive, and I say that with affection even though I’ve never been there. It’s a place my sister (Alice’s mum) goes to often and I think it’s a beloved venue by those who spend time there, the kind of place that still exists in spite of the proliferation of huge, money hungry clubs that are generic and soulless. Places like this are to be celebrated because they’re unique in a time when the little guys gets squashed. It’s called The Basement and before I went there on Friday night, I don’t think I knew what to expect. I’d actually pictured a small dark pub. I was wrong.
We were going there because a few Canberra bands were doing a Nirvana tribute night. I can’t claim I was a huge fan of Nirvana at their peak. I came to them later, mainly because Tori Amos covered Smells Like Teen Spirit in the 90s, after Kurt Cobain died. Only then did I get a sense that something great had happened in the early part of the decade, and I’d missed it.
This week marked 17 years since Kurt Cobain’s death by suicide so it was fitting there was to be a tribute show in the band’s honour. About an hour before we were to leave (that in itself was strange – it’s been ages since we got dressed AFTER dinner on a Friday night to go out!) I was asking Sean about the Basement. Mainly, I wanted to know if I could knit there.
He laughed. “You’ve never been there have you?” Ah, no. In the 12 years we’ve been together, he’s gone to see bands there but i’ve never gone. It’s the place my sister goes. I’ve never been.
He said it wasn’t like places where I usually go to knit – pubs with mid-level lighting, background music and, most importantly, seating. He said there wasn’t much in the way of seating; the carpet was sticky (at best) and the the lighting was dingy. He said I could take my knitting just in case but probably it wouldn’t be a good knitting night.
I was bummed, to say the least. I had totally pictured a night with a couple of beers, interesting Nirvana covers playing on the stage and tucked into a booth with my knitting.
How naive am I?
We arrived shortly after the time the first band was supposed to go on. I got the sense as we drove around the venue looking for parking that there were a lot of people there already, and probably people, based on what i could see in the crowd outside, who didn’t look like the kinds of people who saw knitters show up very often but you know looks can be deceiving so who knows what might have happened.
Which brings me to my next point. We didn’t get in. A venue that doesn’t often fill to capacity had to turn people away at the door. I wonder what Kurt Cobain would make of that seventeen years on? Dude, a long time after you died, stinky venues deep in suburban Canberra are turning away patrons who’ve come to hear three bands cover your songs on a Friday night. What do you make of that? Did you ever think that could happen when you were a janitor in your old high school? I bet you didn’t.
But it’s what happened. I had to flag my sister down and talk to her through the bars of a fence, explaining to her that we made it but couldn’t get in, while inside a crowd lingered around a bar and pool tables waiting for the grunge to begin. I’m actually kind of sorry I missed such an iconic moment, much like I’m sorry I missed the night Nirvana played the ANU bar in 1992 and the crowds spilled out in a way that people still talk about, even those who weren’t there (like me).
Sometimes you’re destined to spend your days wishing you’d been there at great moments. I wish I’d had the chance to knit at a Nirvana tribute gig. I like to think Kurt would have approved. He was like that. He was ok. He was a bit different himself so I do think he’d have been totally cool with someone knitting at one of his gigs, or tribute gigs.
But I guess we’ll never know.