Foo Fighters fans got the surprise of a lifetime when the band made way for a Nirvana reunion at the Cal Jam festival in San Bernardino, California on Saturday, Oct. 6. The jam-packed lineup included headliners the Foo Fighters along with Iggy Pop, Garbage, Tenacious D, and many more musicians, but the six-song Nirvana set was a surprise for the concert crowd.
More than 24 years after the death of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain — and nearly 27 years to the day that the band’s breakthrough album, Nevermind, was released — surviving members Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic, and touring guitarist Pat Smear were joined by Deer Tick’s John McCauley for a set that included the early 1990s songs “Serve the Servants,” “Scentless Apprentice,” and “In Bloom.” Rock legend Joan Jett then took the stage to sing lead vocals on “Breed,” “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and “All Apologies,” per Ultimate Classic Rock.
The Cal Jam set was the first time since 2014 that the Nirvana veterans regrouped to perform under the band’s name alongside the familiar supporting players. Fans may recall that at the after party for Nirvana’s 2014 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction, both McCauley and Jett joined the band for Nirvana’s first performance since Cobain’s death in 1994.
According to UCR, at Cal Jam, Novoselic thanked McCauley and Jett for joining the band onstage, and then asked the audience to give “one big cheer for Kurt Cobain.”
Of course, concert-goers had been hoping for a Nirvana reunion at Cal Jam, and eagle-eyed fans caught some hints from the Foo Fighters that something big was happening. Rock website Consequence of Sound noted two cryptic Foo Fighters tweets in reference to Cal Jam. One of the tweets included footage from Nirvana’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame after party featuring Jett, with the caption “Anyone got @joanjett’s number?”
Fans also made note that all three surviving Nirvana members were scheduled to play the Cal Jam festival. Grohl and Pat Smear currently play together in Foo Fighters while Krist Novoselic’s current band, Giants in the Trees, was also on the lineup. With the inclusion of McCauley’s band Deer Tick and Joan Jett at Cal Jam, diehard fans of the ’90s grunge band strongly suspected the stage was set for a Nirvana reunion but it wasn’t confirmed until McCauley and Jett took the stage after the Foo Fighters set.
You can see Joan Jett performing with Nirvana at Cal Jam in the video below.