Photography by Breanna Keohane
The night was cold, but Rock On Philly’s 2nd Annual Tribute for Kurt Cobain heated up the cozy room at the Tin Angel. With the ignition of delicious, Nirvana-themed blondies provided courtesy of Cake and the Beanstalk, four Philly artists, Josh Miller, Katie Barbato, Andorra, and Sansom, showcased their impressive talents and took pieces of Nirvana’s catalog and made each song uniquely their own.
Josh Miller kicked off the unplugged party with an emotive performance. No frills, but clearly full of talent, Miller used his soft baritone to make “All Apologies” fit his already stripped-down aesthetic.
Katie Barbato was up next, and took a page from Cobain himself and covered not one, but three songs but the late, great musician: “Something In The Way,” “Marigold,” as well as “All Apologies” with a gracious nod to Josh Miller who performed the track earlier. Her performance, though interrupted briefly by a chatty crowd, was just right in honoring Cobain.
Our current Battle of the College Bands gauntlet-holders, Andorra, buoyed the first two performances’ emotional energy and transformed not one, but two Cobain-penned songs in two different ways. The grunge rockers, stripped down to a rotating trio, surprised the crowd with a creative mashup of the iconic guitar riff of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and the Beach Boys! The second tribute was with a cover of Leadbelly’s “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?”, with frontman Kevin McCall channeling the clear turmoil of Cobain’s MTV Unplugged performance seamlessly.
Sansom, stripped down to three members of the usual five-piece, brought the night to an emotive and funky close with a new sound. The trio featured front woman Jennifer Logue, drummer Demetrius Millner, and bassist Andrew Barndt, and transformed “About A Girl” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit” with a performance that just worked. The songs, stripped of the usual guitar and added keyboards, focused solely on the power of Cobain’s lyrics through Jennifer’s delicate yet jazzy soprano. These two tributes were the perfect close to a show that honored Cobain’s inventive and rebellious spirit.
Check out all the photos from the show below!
Editor’s Note: Original post incorrectly stated Katie Barbato covered “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?” by Lead Belly