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You may already know this story: Band forms in 1986. Puts out a couple of EPs and its first (and up until last month, only) record in 1989. American grunge god name-checks them often as one of his favorite bands, names his only daughter after one of the singers, covers a few of the band’s songs live and on record, and creates a buzz about them. As Carl Spackler might say, “Cinderella story!” right?
Sort of. If you don’t know this story, the band is The Vaselines and the grunge god was Kurt Cobain. Remember Nirvana’s performance on MTV Unplugged and that great song, “Jesus Don’t Want Me for a Sunbeam”? Yup, The Vaselines. The “sort of” comes into play because the Vaselines had broken up well before the name-checking began, a casualty of its record company closing and a dissolved romantic relationship between the two lead singers. The band lived on in cult status until a charity gig brought it back together in 2008.
The Vaselines opened for Teenage Fanclub at the 9:30 Club Saturday to an adoring crowd, much of which sang every word to every song. The group drew from its new record and its original run, with singers Eugene Kelly and Frances McKee’s delicate harmonies and folk-like trade-offs of rather naughty verses offering a sharp contrast to garage-y guitars, thick bass, and heavy percussion that backed them.
It definitely seemed to be a Vaselines crowd at the 9:30. Teenage Fanclub took the stage and after about four songs, I noticed the crowd had thinned considerably.Tthe folks that did stay were treated to the shimmering guitar and pitch-perfect harmonies that have long been a major charm in the Fanclub’s music.
The rest of the photos from both sets can be seen here.