It’s been a while since the last entry, I know. But I decided to head to Seattle to see Soundgarden, the GUM (featuring the Pudz/Squirrels’ Rob Morgan and Deranged Diction/Swallow’s Rod Moody,) and hangout with Before Cars (with Nirvana’s Chad Channing.) So I thought I’d write about this trip.
Yesterday was a 24 hour day. As in I was awake for all of them. But it was a good thing.
I left Philadelphia at 1 am Pacific time, arriving in Seattle via Phoenix about 12 hours later. I decided to do this trip on the cheap, and fortunately my friend Rob Morgan allowed me to camp out on his couch for the weekend. I hung out with Rob in Ballard for a while, then headed over to the Paramount to see Soundgarden.
I’d never experienced one of Seattle’s “big four” bands live. I was supposed to go to a Pearl Jam show in Camden, NJ some years back, but I got tired of looking for parking and turned around and went home (although I have seen members of PJ play in bands.) So, Soundgarden would be it, and in their hometown at the iconic Paramount.
I bought a GA ticket, and got in line at about 5:30…doors were to open at 7, band on at 8. Fortunately, only about 100 folks stood ahead of me. Soon I found myself chatting with this dude next to me, Dana from Bellingham. That was good, because neither of us had anything do to for the next two hours (turns out they didn’t open the doors until 7:30.) Finally, we started to move and headed over to the venue.
As we entered the theater, we realized they had removed the chairs, so nothing stood in the way of us and the band. We poured to the front of the stage and waited.
After a couple of false starts, Soundgarden (there was no warm-up act…which was pretty cool by the way. That would never happen in Philly), finally appeared on the stage, opening with “Flower” from Ultramega OK. Amazing. It was like experiencing Soundgarden in a small club. Chris Cornell and Ben Shepherd were only a few feet from us. (Below from left, Chris Cornell, Matt Cameron, and Ben Shepherd.)
The band whipped through some classics early on, notably “Hunted Down” and “Nothing to Say” (from their first Sub Pop record), “Outshined” and “My Wave.” Chris Cornell, looking trim and fit, jumped around the stage. His vocals at times sounded strained, although at other times he exploded just like the old days. Guitarist Kim Thayil planted himself to Chris’ right.
Then there was Ben Shepherd. Watching him was a trip. He finished nearly every bass run by contorting himself and then pulling his hand away, with obvious force…made it look like he was trying to pull the guts out of his instrument. Then he would just level this death stare. Not at anyone in particular, just straight ahead mostly. It really looked like he wanted to kill someone. Then, every so often he would smile. Funny to watch. (Below, Ben Shepherd.)
At one point, Chris announced the band would play “Been Away Too Long” from the latest record, King Animal. He said the song title had a dual meaning: one related to Soundgarden’s nearly dozen years of inactivity, and other had to do with his return to Seattle.
The audience behaved itself for the most part. For the most part. The majority of the crowd was comprised of middle aged rock fans, just wanting to see a good show. But some folks have not grown up yet. Every so often, an asshole—old enough to know better—would crash into bodies and force the crowd to surge this way or that. I didn’t like it, nor did some of the folks around us. A couple of dudes almost came to blows. Another guy began making hay by knocking over both men and women indiscriminately. It pissed some people off around me, and they began to shove the moron away, which only seemed to please him. I found myself getting angry. I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck and told him to knock it off. He smiled.
Meanwhile, the band continued to play on. (Just watch Matt Cameron play drums. Just do it sometime…for five minutes. That’s all I ask.)
Matt’s son, a guitar player, joined the band on stage for one number. Next, Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready played dual leads with Kim Thayil on another (yeah, I can’t recall either song…feel free to chime in [UPDATE: see set list at the end of this post.]) (Below, Chris Cornell.)
The band finally exited the stage around 11, then came back and did an encore with “Rusty Cage.” It was then that I realized just how freaking tired I was…on my feet for several hours after an all-day trip, all on zero rest. I secretly hoped this would be the only encore.
It was. I walked out, wished Dana fairly well, and headed back to Rob’s couch in Ballard, tired but happy.
Update (Courtesy of Matt Brown), last night’s set list: Flower. Nothing To Say. Outshined. Jesus Christ Pose. Spoonman. Hands All Over. Gun. By Crooked Steps. Rhinosaur. Taree. My Wave. The Day I Tried To Live. Been Away Too Long. Worse Dreams. Hunted Down. Drawing Flies. Matt Cameron’s son playing guitar on Eyelid’s Mouth. Blow Up The Outside World. Fell On Black Days. Live To Rise. Mike McCready playing guitar on Tighter And Tighter. Non-State Actor. Ty Cobb. Rowing. Encore: Rusty Cage. Far Beyond The Wheel.
(Below, Ben Shepherd.)