The band Nirvana had a tumultuous history with their most famous song, "Smells Like Teen Spirit," which became a worldwide hit. The song wasn't even written by Kurt Cobain until after the band had already established a following in the underground. When the music video for the song became popular on MTV, it was simple to identify the fans who were only casually interested in the band based on the songs they shouted out during performances.


In 1994, Cobain told Rolling Stone that everyone had focused so much attention on one particular song. "People have watched it a million times on MTV, which is why it draws such a large reaction from the public. It is ingrained in their minds through repeated exposure.


Although it was a staple in their setlist for the vast majority of the time between 1991 and 1994, when they played their final shows, the song "Teen Spirit" was played less frequently. However, it was still performed on occasion during that entire time period. In 1992, while Kurt Cobain was playing a gig in Buenos Aires, Argentina, he became so enraged by the crowd that he made the decision to purposefully disrupt the performance in order to make a point. After the opening act for the band, Babes in Toyland, was booed off the stage, Kurt Cobain proceeded to exact revenge on the audience.


According to the book Nirvana: The Chosen Rejects, which was published in 2004, Kurt Cobain was once cited as saying, "Before every song, I'd play the entrance to 'Smells Like Teen Spirit,' and then stop." They were unaware that we were holding a demonstration in opposition to what they had done. We played for approximately [forty] minutes, and the majority of the songs were on [the compilation record] Incesticide, so they didn't recognize anything we played."


That was only partially accurate; the playlist featured well-known pieces from Nevermind such as "Lithium" and "In Bloom." Nirvana opened the night with a violent improvised jam before careening into "Aneurysm," displaying one of their more belligerent sides during this particular performance. Before shifting into the following two songs, 'Breed' and 'Drain You,' Kurt Cobain gave the crowd a taste of what was to come by performing 'Teen Spirit' in between songs.


"We wound up playing the secret noise song ['Endless, Nameless,'] that's at the end of Nevermind, and because we were so in a rage and were just so pissed off about this whole situation, that song and whole set were one of the greatest experiences I've ever had," Kurt Cobain would express later on in interviews. Anyone who went to the concert anticipating the band to perform "Smells Like Teen Spirit" was let down because the band did not end up performing the song on that particular night.


Of course, that did not mark the series finale of "Teen Spirit" in any way. Nirvana eventually made their way back to South America, this time performing in Sao Paulo, Brazil, three months later. Flea, bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, joined the band during one of their most experimental performances ever and played trumpet during their rendition of "Teen Spirit." At one point in the performance, all three band members switched instruments in order to perform a series of cover songs. These songs included Kim Wilde's "Kids in America," "Should I Stay or Should I Go" by The Clash, "867-5309/Jenny" by Tommy Tutone, and "Rio" by Duran Duran.