Soundgarden rocked the Gorge on July 30, 2011
For Generation-Xers such as myself, Soundgarden’s music is the soundtrack of our youth. But could Chris Cornell’s vocals withstand the test of time? Could Soundgarden still rock as they once had? I had no question in my mind that the answer to both questions was “yes,” but I still was not prepared for the awesomeness that I witnessed at the Gorge Saturday evening.
Having last seen Soundgarden in 1992 in Bremerton, WA, the bar for them was already set high, but what I soon found is that the band is back and stronger, louder and fiercer than ever. With a lot of “aging” rock bands you find that they just don’t have the same impact they once had. They’re not as tight, the singer’s vocals are weaker or their stage presence has gone flat. None of those were the case, and in fact, I think the band is even better NOW than when I saw them last, 19-years ago.
The entire lineup of the show was amazing. Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age, The Meat Puppets and Mastodon. Well worth the $71 tickets and $100 camping. The Gorge campgrounds were abuzz with exhilaration from fans who were all pretty damned excited to be at the venue despite the unforgiving 100 degree heat.
Having never seen Queens of the Stone Age I had no idea what to expect, but I am a big fan of theirs to begin with, so I was pretty stoked to see them. What I found was QOTSA is SO good live, in fact, that I had to pick my jaw up off the beer soaked concrete under my soon to be mashed toes. They are one of those bands that you just have to see live because they are razor sharp. Every band member has incredible energy and man, those riffs are just crazy live! I found myself mesmerized at how flawlessly these guys all play together. Next time they pass through Seattle, I am IN. No question.
YouTube video of Queens of the Stone Age performing No One Knows at the Gorge. (Not my video.)
Soundgarden’s setlist was chock full of all the band’s favorite hits and as a self professed Soundgarden freak, before the show I was secretly hoping they would open with Searching with My Good Eye Closed. And they did. The opening cut from Badmotorfinger was the perfect song to begin the show with. I found a video of the show’s opening on YouTube, the sound is pretty terrible, but you get the idea. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFN5b1PTSRU
Soundgarden’s complete set list for the Gorge 2011:
Soundgarden did not only perform one encore – or even two – but THREE(!) encore songs, thrilling fans like myself who wished the night would never end.
Soundgarden played all their pre-1997 songs despite having newer ones on the table. You can bet the band’s next tour will showcase fresh tunes. For old-time fans like me, this tour was the trip down memory lane we had all been hoping for.
In the video above (not mine), Soundgarden and Chris Cornell perform Jesus Christ Pose. Cornell’s lyrics, often misinterpreted, voice his frustration with celebrities abusing the crucifix and images of Jesus Christ. He explained in the past: “You just see it a lot with really beautiful people, or famous people, exploiting that symbol as to imply that they’re either a deity or persecuted somehow by their public. So it’s pretty much a song that is nonreligious but expressing being irritated by seeing that. It’s not that I would ever be offended by what someone would do with that symbol.”
Chris Cornell in the Jesus Christ Pose
Seeing Soundgarden in 2011 was as magical as it had been in 1992. Actually, it was even better.
Chris showed the crowd at the Gorge that he’s stayed true to his Pacific Northwest roots by mentioning Seattle’s former basketball team the Seattle Sonics’ move to Oklahoma City. He ranted: ”They took our f***ing team from us. Since I was ‘this’ high, they had that team, and they f***ing took them away. It’s bullsh*t to take away a basketball team!”
Now, I’m a huge sports fan, especially of Seattle teams, but basketball I’ve never cared for much. But after Chris mentioned it, I was ready to burn down the city to get the Sonics back!
Having elbowed, pushed and shoved my way to the front, I think I was in a musical trance during Soundgarden’s entire set. I ended up losing my flip-flops in the mosh pit as the 200-lb. men surrounding me stepped or jumped on my feet for two hours. Black and blue feet and toes = ow, bruises everywhere = ouch, seeing Soundgarden upfront at the Gorge = priceless.
Soundgarden is the best of the best. Louder than ever with the same powerful vocals, presence, and raw, grinding rock n’ roll that is a rarity with rock bands these days. I can honestly say that Soundgarden/Queens of the Stone Age was the single best show I have ever attended, and probably ever will. You just can’t top this level of perfection.
And just as Searching With My Good Eye Closed was the perfect opener, Slaves & Bulldozers, a song which shows off Cornell’s insane vocal range, was the perfect closer.
With two other concerts coming up in the next few weeks, I am left wondering how any concert I attend in the future can possibly live up to this. The answer is, they can’t. Thank you Chris Cornell and thank you Soundgarden for the single best show of my life.
SEE MORE PICS OF SOUNDGARDEN AT THE GORGE 2011 AFTER THE CUT!
The reviewer and her hubby before the show started:
Visiting the Gorge Amphitheater in George, WA anytime soon? Here are some TIPS!