Yes, Soundgarden came home.
Back in Seattle, and for two nights! So of course I snagged up my tickets the minute they went on sale a few months back and was stoked to be able to go to both shows.
The venue was at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre, one of my favorite places to see a show. It’s small, intimate and the late 1920s architecture is phenomenal. Of course, Seattle being the birthplace of Soundgarden, fans were excited to have the band return the a venue they used to frequent in the early 1990s. (The only downside to The Paramount is the sound isn’t nearly as good as when they play outdoor shows.)
This would be my third & fourth time seeing Soundgarden. The first time I saw them was at Lollapalooza 1992 and then again at The Gorge July 2011 (read my review). I was blown away both times so I knew the shows at The Paramount would be worth the coin. Besides, I’ve sworn to never miss them again when they are in town.
For Thursday night’s show I managed to settle into row 5 or so, it was General Admission on the floor. We were right in front of Ben Shepherd, who was the usual menacing, scowling, awesome rockstar that he is. If people beat the shit out of the crowd trying to get to the front row, Ben would order security to rip them out of the crowd and send them on their way…back to the back of the crowd. It reminded me of the ’92 show when I witnessed Ben lashing out at some random jerkoff doing the same thing. Ben just rocks. But he’s not that scrawny little dude anymore, that’s for sure, but he’s still angsty!
Friday night’s show at The Paramount I scored 2nd row, and was even closer to the magic. The trick? Get in line half hour before doors open, once inside, skip bathrooms and booze (bring a flask!) and head right for the stage. Both nights were exceptional but I felt the band had more energy Friday night. I hate to admit it, but Soundgarden don’t thrash around onstage like they used to. I miss that part of their old shows. Remember the hair flying, the necks rolling and the maniacal jumping around? Yeah, me too. It doesn’t happen so much anymore. Ben pretty much stands in one place, sometimes he walks around and gets a little frisky, but not like the old days where he would viciously stab the air with his bass while playing. Chris kind of skips around onstage, nodding his head, and every once in awhile you’ll get a good hair flip from him.
On Thursday, Mike McCready of Pearl Jam joined Soundgarden for a song (a bartender later told us that some roadies told him (I know) that Eddie Vedder was at their that night, having cocktails with Soundgarden, but I’m not buying it. Both Thursday and Friday night drummer Matt Cameron’s son played guitar during “Eyelids Mouth”. Looks like Raymond might be following in his father’s footsteps.
I was lucky enough to catch some video.
Ray Cameron with Soundgarden on “Eyelids Mouth” from King Animal:
Soundgarden played hits from every album, from Ultramega OK to King Animal, and Cornell sang them with the same gusto he was known for before the band split in 1997. Although his voice is notably a bit “raspier” than it used to be, he still has amazing vocal capabilities that bring back memories of the long-haired, shirtless (yum), Doc Marten, flannel wearing days of his past.
Soundgarden’s “Beyond the Wheel” from Ultramega OK:
Worth the money? You bet. Any chance you get to see Soundgarden, especially in smaller venues, hop on it. Matt Cameron can still pound the drums like nobody’s business (he’s so underrated) Kim Thayil can still deliver raw, edgy riffs, Ben Shepherd is a rock god on the bass and Chris Cornell still rules my world when it comes to…well, everything.
Photo & Video Credit: Carrie Milburn