When Conan O’Brien took over as host of NBC’s Late Night in September of 1993, he wanted to take advantage of the wide popularity enjoyed by alt-rock bands of the era leading the New York Times to declare, “Alternative rock doesn’t seem so alternative anymore.” Over the course of the first few months of Conan-hosted Late Night’s, O’Brien welcomed an array of alt-rock acts to the Studio 6A stage including They Might Be Giants, The Breeders, The Lemonheads and Bad Religion.
Thanks to YouTube we can look back at a number of these alt-rock performances from the first few months of Late Night with Conan O’Brien. This week’s B List brings together 10 such clips, though we do warn we took liberties with the “alt-rock” tag.
Kim and Kelley Deal brought The Breeders to Late Night for a performance of the second-best known song from their Last Splash LP – the super-catchy Divine Hammer.
Juliana Hatfield achieved commercial success with the release of Become What You Are in 1993. The Juliana Hatfield 3’s My Sister was a staple on alt.rock radio that year and Spin The Bottle was used in Ben Stiller’s Reality Bites film. Hatfield and her trio performed My Sister on the September 30th, 1993 episode of Late Night.
Okay, maybe calling Barenaked Ladies alt-rock is a stretch, but this was before the days of One Week when you could hear the Canucks on every Top 40 station. Brian Wilson had already been out for over a year when BNL made their Conan debut on September 29th, 1993.
Not only did They Might Be Giants visit Late Night to perform Why Does The Sun Shine? on October 26th, 1993, but they also stuck around for an extended interview segment.
Evan Dando and The Lemonheads visited Late Night in support of Come On Feel The Lemonheads and performed the somewhat controversial Big Gay Heart. Dando inserted “I don’t need you to duck my sick” instead of the line “suck my dick” found on the album version as he sang the song for the national TV audience.
Just a year after The Sugarcubes broke up, Bjork visited Late Night with her solo band to perform her first international solo hit – Human Behavior. The singer then sat for an awkward but fun chat with O’Brien in which she reveals her mother is a fortune teller.
It’s not every day you see someone playing a didgeridoo on TV, but that’s exactly what happened with acid-jazz/funk act Jamiroquai made their Late Night with Conan O’Brien debut in late 1993. Singer Jay Kay and his talented band treated the audience to the groove-heavy When You Gonna Learn.
Punk/hardcore pioneers Bad Religion had been together for over a decade by the time they made their Conan debut in 1993. The band had just released Recipe For Hate which would propel them to commercial success thanks to singles such as American Jesus and Struck A Nerve, the song they performed on Late Night.
Chicago’s Urge Overkill were really feeling their oats as 1993 came to a close. Not only did they open for Nirvana on the Nevermind Tour, but they also had the privilege of opening for Pearl Jam on the Vs. Tour. When they made their Conan debut on September 21st, 1993 they played the catchy rocker Sister Havana.
Boston’s Buffalo Tom were the darlings of the alt-rock world in 1993 thanks to the release of the impressive Red Letter Day LP. The album’s biggest hit, Sodajerk, was used in commercials and was found on the soundtrack for My So-Called Life, but we’re more partial to the song they played on Late Night – I’m Allowed.