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Nirvana – the story behind their concert in Rome in 1991 with the promoter Corrado Corry X

February 12, 2020


so here we are in Rome with Corrado or Corry X since several years around as a DJ it’s thirty years in November but in the past you did other jobs including organizing concerts exactly, promoter
something I did at the same time I booked several concerts in the past and among them there was a special one: Nirvana Sure
Which year was it? 1991, November ’91 at Castello, Cinema-Theatre Castello actually
Where was it? Via di Porta Castello close to Via della Conciliazione Nirvana, as you may recall, had already played in Rome at Piper Club, if I remember well it was in November 1989
the tour of their first record “Bleach” yes, I was there, I had worked only
with the promotion at that time and in my opinion that concert wasn’t that great Cobain was pretty stoned it was a band considered at risk booking that band, though with many followers,
you didn’t really know how it will work
Will they manage to play or not? it wasn’t the most-wanted band within the promoters I was working with the booking agency Subway Music
at the time and I was in charge of the concerts’ promotion,
the graphic design and the printing of the posters in the whole country but mostly in Rome so there was a European promoter, I guess, an italian one and one in Rome? yes, yes actually…
no, the Subway was the italian promoter we did the whole italian tour which was rather chaotic
because the first gig, if I remember well was in Bologna, then Rome, Treviso and then
the gig at Hiroshima (Mon Amour) that was canceled
in Turin then? exactly, Turin because it wasn’t the most appealing band
Why did you choose the Castello theatre? which wasn’t the best location
it was our regular venue was it?
we already had there some Metal concerts
including Morbid Angel we did as well more grunge gigs the capacity of the venue was
between 800 and 1000 people and that was what we were
expecting with Nirvana
and how was it? well, the concert…it’s 28 years from now
so I might forget something forgive me
we booked the gigs at the end of June around five or six months earlier then as I said already,
there wasn’t any competition with other promoters
I got the idea of giving Nirvana a second chance
mostly because that band didn’t cost that much in those days so we got this gig
and then the agency also made sure of having the whole italian tour and then we put it in a folder with
the other dates we had of course we couldn’t predict the “Nevermind” effect “Nevermind” was released in September I’m not sure about the month honestly
it was late September and suddenly it was such a big success
it happened in a very spontaneous way the album hadn’t been promoted in a huge way
even though the music video of “Smells Like Teen Spirit”
sure but still wasn’t a huge promotion it came out it in such a simple and beautiful way and the word started to be spread
there was interest record stores selling a lot of records
they did but mostly when we were promoting other
concerts from the same agency we noticed that instead of being us giving flyers was people asking for them
two months earlier people were asking for more infos but those were just some vibes
as a promoter I couldn’t rely much on that
what really count are the pre-sales but you know about that only
a couple of weeks before the show Radio Rock was playing the songs every day
actually was a great album and it was selling a lot
there was as well a lot of talking about it anyway we were regularly working with Castello theatre and we estimated that a Nirvana gig would get around 800 – 1000 people upgrading one step forward
at that time meant doing it at the Teatro Tenda
but that wasn’t an easy step for us we might have trust our feelings
but it might had been a wrong move
like it happened to me several times already what was the capacity of Teatro Tenda?
Over 2000 then the question was, shall we do the 800-1000 venue or the one with 2000? yes, the only problem was that all the
costs were bigger I’ve been often asked why we didn’t understand it yes we did but it was risky of course
obviously the pre-sales went quickly sold out we had about
a thousand pre-sales we had always been honest
we never did any overbooking tickets were gone before a minute
I remember we had it at Cantieri del Nord that was still at Via del Corso
and they were asking us for more tickets but we hadn’t it was already sold out
a while before the date of the gig but even if we sold a thousand tickets
we were not sure we can sell 2000 more because at Teatro Tenda 1000-1500 wasn’t enough
the amount needed would have been around 2500-3000 and it was anyway too late
we would have had to change all the promotion how went the concert then? Did you enjoy it?
No, I didn’t see it I didn’t see it at all because this is what happened then the Castello theatre was actually a cinema for sure we sold one thousand tickets but
outside there were at least two thousand more people which means that the entire
Via di Porta Castello was stuck I didn’t see the concert because I was worrying
about what was going on outside the venue not only about the people
without tickets who can’t get in because no way we can allow
them in but for those who had tickets we somehow had to guarantee
them to get in and it wasn’t that easy having a mob
of two thousand people outside the venue and they were pushing because
it was a narrow street I actually spent all the time there
Doing what?
Helping the security Did you talk to the people?
Sure we decided to let in 2 or 3 people
just to show them how crowded was inside because it seemed that we didn’t want let them in actually it would be rather good for me to
have more audience if there was enough room but you can’t just open the doors and let in
2000 people in a place with a capacity of 1000 it would have been a disaster so the 3 persons we let in came back saying that
there was no space at all inside the venue but it was not easy, really
I didn’t see one song just to mention, the barriers front stage were bended anyway even if it was very crowded it was alright without
fainting or other bad things but with only 100 more people or even less getting in it would have been very dangerous luckily it was all good I later watched the video filmed by Videomusic TV and it was a great concert
the other way around of the one in 1989 do you regret not having done it at Teatro Tenda? yes, sure
but it is what it is consider that it was my second concert as a promoter I trusted my more experienced partners and then the band came back in 1994 yes but with a bigger production
they played at Palaghiaccio in Marino they were no longer with the label Sub Pop everything was bigger afterwards did you meet Nirvana in person?
I didn’t some privacy was guaranteed to the band but I think they enjoyed the concert I don’t even have one photo of the concert cameras were forbidden we’re talking of another era
nowadays there are maybe too many pics at that time only the reporters were allowed no way of getting into the dressing room for a pic but it’s still a beautiful memory unfortunately more from the body
rather than from the heart but I’m glad that after all those years we’re still talking about it
and I keep it as a memory to tell the grandchildren
thanks for sharing it with us absolutely in the same years you started a DJ set with Luciano, the Toretta Stile
sure, indeed we were already doing some parties at Forte Prenestino with Luciano and other people just bringing some random records from home one day for fun we decided to play Raffaella Carrà or a 7 inches of Renato Zero we did it in a squat to provoke it was 1990 when nothing was taken for granted but it worked out good because the
people understood the joke we didn’t want to support those artists
not everyone got it at the beginning our goal playing this kind of music was just doing some bullshit and some jokes after a couple of hours and a few cocktail there was someone in the dancehall
wearing the kefiah like a bandana with bare chest singing “Mi vendo” this was just a part of the evening
then we played what we liked punk ’77, ska, Italian beat, soul and then there were those funny inserts it has started at Forte Prenestino then Yes, the name is in fact “Toretta” because the parties were in the tower in the very early days it was called just “Discotecah” then we decided to change the name
it’s with only one “R” it’s not dialect but rather a typewriting mistake It was supposed to be Torretta Stile
but something was wrong written but Toretta went very well and we kept it and when was the very first party as Toretta?
it was a bit later on in 1993, the first Halloween
again at Forte Prenestino and it wasn’t obvious at all to have a halloween party in Rome
probably enough we were the first doing it because it was considered an American party
sure it is yes but now it’s in every bar at that time it was a trial
and it went very well we gathered a crowd of almost a thousand people
at the “Polveriera” beautiful spot in the cellar and this way Toretta has started
still on today? sure, still on
even if in a slower way the times have changed but we do 2 or 3 a year we try to make the right parties
including halloween however in our own peculiar way we keep going and see that there are
still people who like to dance and sing along with us
as long as it goes like this it’s good great
Corrado, thanks sure, thank you

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