Dave Grohl drums along to Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit during The Storyteller live event

His day job might mean that we see less of Dave Grohl the drummer these days, but that doesn’t mean he won’t take any opportunity he can to jump back behind the kit. That’s exactly what happened at New York Town Hall during his promotional tour for new book, Dave Grohl: The Storyteller, as he jumped on the drums for a rare, intimate performance of Nirvana’s biggest hit, Smells Like Teen Spirit.

Sat grinning behind an uncharacteristically small (for Dave Grohl) Ludwig kit, Grohl performed the Nevermind drum anthem in its entirety, giving us a rare chance to see him play the band’s breakthrough song (thanks to audience footage) without camera cuts, and with added clarity from the drum-heavy audio.

Despite the lack of trademark flailing and head-banging we’re used to seeing accompany Grohl in Nirvana mode, his powerhouse flams - which he recently revealed were inspired by disco drummers - and machine-gun single-stroke snare rolls explode through the speakers as he jams to the track.

Just before the guitar solo, Grohl’s cymbal stand gives way under what appears to be Grohl at ‘relaxed’ hitter level, creating the perfect reminder from some audience camera angles that the former Nirvana drummer not only plays Zildjian cymbals - the only cymbal brand he’s ever endorsed, but that even legends suffer gear malfunctions from time to time.

He also went on to perform acoustic versions of Foo Fighters hits, My Hero and Everlong at the event, as well as detailing the primitive approach to multitrack recording he adopted as a teenager using two cassette recorders, which you can watch below. 

Dave Grohl: The Storyteller is out now in print, digital and audio formats.

Stuart Williams

I'm a freelance member of the MusicRadar team, specialising in drum news, interviews and reviews. I formerly edited Rhythm and Total Guitar here in the UK and have been playing drums for more than 25 years (my arms are very tired). When I'm not working on the site, I can be found on my electronic kit at home, or gigging and depping in function bands and the odd original project.