Ever since I started listening to music, I have wanted to see Soundgarden in concert. Growing up in the MTV generation, the “Black Hole Sun” video and the band’s breakthrough album, Superunknown, were my introductions to the group and were soon on full rotation throughout my teen years. The glorious meshing of heavy metal guitar riffs, psychedelia and the rasp of Chris Cornell drew me in, and though I always wanted to see them live, an opportunity never arose, and then all of a sudden, they were broken up. Fast forward 16 years and one reunion album later and I finally get the chance to satisfy my teenage dream of seeing Soundgarden live.
Probably one of the best parts of the show was there was no opener—just a solid two-and-a-half hours of Soundgarden. The band kicked off the performance with a raucous rendition of Badmotorfinger standout “Jesus Christ Pose,” which was a pummeling representation of things to come. The night’s setlist was an eclectic mix from the band’s whole discography, but it tended to veer toward the earlier, heavier stuff. Following “JCP,” Soundgarden tore into “Spoonman,” followed by “Let Me Drown,” an excellent start to the night.
Kim Thayil effortlessly shredded through the songs like he could do it in his sleep, while Chris Cornell’s signature growl, though weathered by the years, was still as commanding as ever. The band was a well-oiled machine of hard rock.
Highlights of the night included crowd-pleasers “Dusty,” “My Wave,” “Fell On Black Days” and “Outshined.” The new track, “By Crooked Steps,” also impressed, while early songs like “Flowers” provided a welcome blast of nostalgia. The absolute highlight of the night was “Hands All Over,” whose pummeling guitar riffs seemed louder and more in your face than anything else in the band’s repertoire. Soundgarden finished off the night with a huge bang, performing earlier classics “Rusty Cage,” “Ugly Truth” and “Beyond The Wheel,” which was a full-throttle early ’90s rock out that provided a triumphant ending to the show.