Soundgarden's Chris Cornell performs at the Gorge Amphitheatre on July 30
Photo: The Recording Academy
Welcome to The Set List. Here you'll find the latest concert recaps for many of your favorite, or maybe not so favorite, artists. Our bloggers will do their best to provide you with every detail of the show, from which songs were on the set list to what the artist was wearing to which out-of-control fan made a scene. Hey, it'll be like you were there. And if you like what you read, we'll even let you know where you can catch the artist on tour. Feel free to drop us a comment and let us know your concert experience. Oh, and rock on.
By Jamie Harvey
In the middle of nowhere in the state of Washington, on the edge of a cliff, I stood smashed against a barricade with my hand outstretched toward Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell as he sang "Outshined" a few feet from my face.
Thousands of us had congregated at the picturesque Gorge Amphitheatre for a special show consisting of the influential Meat Puppets, prog-metal band Mastodon, California rock band Queens Of The Stone Age, and recently reunited headliners Soundgarden for the final show of their first tour in more than a decade. It was a roster made just for me, and a few thousand others who continue to feel grunge music's lasting impact to this day.
After a day consisting of an early flight, a long drive and hours of waiting in the heat, energy ran low as guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd, drummer Matt Cameron, and Cornell walked onstage. But as soon as they launched into "Searching With My Good Eye Closed," it made it all worth it. There's nothing like singing every word and air-drumming along to your favorite songs with the band playing a mere few feet in front of you, knowing that there are thousands singing behind you.
The GRAMMY-winning track "Spoonman" had crowd-surfers coming over my head. "Gun" took us back to the beginning — a rougher, dirtier version of Soundgarden. "Jesus Christ Pose," one of the band's quintessential songs, swirled us into their controlled chaos. "Blow Up The Outside World," from 1996's Down On The Upside, felt especially fitting for this show, as it was easy to forget any place but here existed.
Cornell introduced "The Day I Tried To Live" as a song he wrote as a "soundtrack to a day." "My Wave" had me studying Thayil's understated guitar work. But the song that really fit the day was "Burden In My Hand": "Follow me into the desert as thirsty as you are" was exactly what it felt like we had done.
"Ugly Truth," a track from 1989's Louder Than Love, had me remembering the seemingly impossible stories I heard locals share about seeing the grunge bands in their heyday. The more contemporary, mellower sound of "Fell On Black Days" giving way to older tracks "Hunted Down" and "Drawing Flies" was like hitting the rewind button on a live band. On crowd favorites "Black Hole Sun" and "Outshined," our voices almost overshadow the band's.
The speed of "Rusty Cage" got the mosh pit really going, as those of us in the front got squished for what seemed like the thousandth time that day. But we weren't going anywhere, not with "Head Down," one of my favorite tracks, next. "Pretty Noose" showcased the best of both Soundgarden worlds: a trudging hard rock sound with a pretty vocal melody over the top. "Superunknown," the title track to the band's 1994 album, gave way to the slow and ominous "4th Of July," a song that captivates my attention every time I hear it.
It felt like I had broken ribs and there were bruises on my arms and my feet had gone numb, so I had to muster every last bit of my will to make it through the encore, but it was by far the highlight of the show for me. My soul was smiling for "Room A Thousand Years Wide" and "Beyond The Wheel." This was pure Soundgarden to me — hard and heavy but with a soft touch, with guitar and vocals that just make your jaw drop.
The show closed with the driving "Slaves & Bulldozers," which was fitting as I had spent the day a slave to the music and I felt like I had been bulldozed. But this is what I do for the bands I love.
"Searching With My Good Eye Closed"
"Jesus Christ Pose"
"Blow Up The Outside World"
"The Day I Tried To Live"
"Burden In My Hand"
"Fell On Black Days"
"Black Hole Sun"
"4th Of July"
"Room A Thousand Years Wide"
"Beyond The Wheel"
"Slaves & Bulldozers"
To catch Soundgarden in a city near you, click here for tour dates.
(Texas-based Jamie Harvey is the rock community blogger for GRAMMY.com. She attended 112 shows in 2010. You can follow her musical adventures and concert recaps at www.hardrockchick.com.)