Dave Grohl’s 13-year-old daughter Violet fills in for Kurt Cobain at Nirvana-reunion charity gig

Violet and Dave Grohl onstage at the Art of Elysium's Heaven 2020 gala at the Hollywood Palladium on Jan. 4, 2020. (Photo: Lyndsey Parker)
Violet and Dave Grohl onstage at the Art of Elysium's Heaven 2020 gala at the Hollywood Palladium on Jan. 4, 2020. (Photo: Lyndsey Parker)

On Saturday night, Nirvana’s surviving members reunited at Los Angeles’s Hollywood Palladium for the 13th annual Heaven gala, a charity event held by the Art of Elysium (a non-profit organization that pairs volunteer artists with individuals in need).

Former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, bassist Krist Novoselic, and guitarist Pat Smear were joined onstage by St. Vincent, who lent her vocals to opening number “Lithium,” and by Beck, who crooned “In Bloom,” “Been a Son,” and Nirvana’s iconic MTV Unplugged version of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World.” (Beck also amusingly recalled that the “most insane mosh pit” he'd ever experienced in his life — one that actually left his hands bleeding — was at Nirvana’s Palladium show in 1990.)

However, the most memorable moment of Nirvana’s five-song set was when Grohl’s 13-year-old daughter, Violet, emerged onstage to sing “Heart-Shaped Box” with the band. The younger Grohl seemed undaunted by the mighty task, looking surprisingly Cobain-like with her bleached bob and baggy clothes as she intoned the dark and brooding In Utero classic, while her father and his all-star cohorts bashed and crashed behind her.

Dave, who has performed Foo Fighters, Adele, and Billie Eilish songs with Violet at past concerts, seemed more than happy to cede the spotlight to his daughter. Event co-chair Kerry Brown revealed onstage that when he’d asked the elder Grohl if he was excited for Saturday’s show, the current Foos frontman exclaimed, “Are you f***ing kidding me? I get to play the drums tonight!”

This wasn’t the first time that Nirvana had reunited. In 2014, St. Vincent, a.k.a. Annie Clark, joined them when they were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame; it was in 2016 that they first performed "The Man Who Sold the World" with Beck, at Clive Davis's annual pre-Grammy party. The last time that Grohl, Novoselic, and Smear played together was at the Foo Fighters’ Cal Jam festival in 2018. However, on Saturday, Novoselic revealed that Nirvana don’t plan reunite again for “another four or five years,” noting that they just “couldn’t resist the temptation” to play one more time for a worthy cause.

The Art of Elysium’s Heaven 2020 event — curated by We Are Hear business partners Linda Perry and Kerry Brown (who received the night’s 2020 Visionary Award) — also featured short sets by a ferocious L7, Marilyn Manson (who stunningly performed raw and stripped renditions of “The Dope Show” and the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams” with accompaniment from Perry), and powerpop legends Cheap Trick. Perry excitedly introduced the latter band by confessing that she used to get stoned and repeatedly listen to their iconic 1979 concert album Live at Budokan when she was a teenager.

Cheap Trick dedicated their That ‘70s Show theme, their famous cover of Big Star’s “In the Street,” to That ‘70s Show actor Topher Grace — who, along with his wife Ashley, had won the Spirit of Elysium Award earlier in the evening. Topher revealed in his acceptance speech that he had met Ashley, who is currently pregnant with the couple’s second child, at an Art of Elysium gala seven years ago.

Celebrities in attendance at the Palladium Saturday included Bella Hadid, Billy Idol, Jack Black, Moby, Rufus Wainwright, Gilby Clarke, Shooter Jennings, Evan Ross, Maxwell, Emile Hirsch, Ian Ziering, Kat Graham, Michell Trachtenberg, James Marsden, Jesse Metcalfe, Abigail Spencer, Ali Larter, Alicia Witt, Summer and Rain Phoenix, the X Ambassadors, Roger Joseph Manning Jr., Audrina Patridge, and renowned rock photographers Henry Diltz and Mick Rock.

"The generosity of all these artists has left us speechless" Perry and Brown said in a statement. "We wanted to create a truly unique experience with the Art of Elysium; the way they help people in need triumph through art is rare and beautiful."

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