Soundgarden: 7/10 & 7/13

Finally. Waking the grunge: a Soundgarden tour. I creamed my flannel pajamas. Fuck Coachella, this was it. A reunion I thought would never happen because Chris hated the idea. Besides saying he put a lid on it, in ’09 he cynically said, “Someone in my position, if I wanted to sell out I’d just get one of my old bands back together...Do a thing like go play a big show and get paid to play an hour of songs that I wrote in 1992.” He was using that logic to deny accusations of selling out on Scream, the tragic failure that is probably responsible for this very reunion! Thanks, Timbaland!

7/10: Jones Beach, Long Island. Long Island sucks and Jones Beach is a seated venue. Area 2, Section F, row 12, seat 6. The seats were OK, but fuck seated venues. Unless it’s Steve Miller or the Doobie Brothers, why the fuck would I sit down at a concert or stand a mile away? But tailgating was a go and they don’t pat you down. Fat bowls.

Soundgarden opened with a heavy tweaked version of “Searching With My Good Eye Closed,” soon followed by “Gun.” Fucking “Gun.” Awesome. They got all the Superunknown megahits out of the way early, so you didn’t have to worry about hearing them later. And they played shit-tons of Louder than Love, which was unexpected.

At one point Chris got very sarcastic about Jesus, which was great to hear, because I was kinda worried he had gone religious or something. He kept saying things like “Everyone stand for Jesus,” and “Jesus is always watching you!” After a plodding, crushing version of “Beyond the Wheel” he said, “I hope you were standing for that. Jesus always checks in for ‘Beyond the Wheel.”

They closed with “4th of July,” and the encore was: “Hands All Over,” “Loud Love,” “Like Suicide,” “Slaves and Bulldozers.” Unbeatable five-song block. Chris mentioned that “Like Suicide” was a song about a bird that kept flying into a window until its neck broke. I never knew that.

One thing about the seated venue: I absorbed it all and I stayed in control. No powdered doughnuts, I didn’t go nuts, and I remember everything. A strange but welcome experience for me.

That’s Chris in the crowd during “Hunted Down.” He sang the whole song out there. Pretty badass, except for all the phones in his face. A sign of the times; they’re all around us. Expensive close seats: a bunch of dazzled yuppies and spoiled brats who don’t know how to live in the moment. They are, of course, missing the entire essence of rocking out. I would love to open up a pit right there – with an aluminum bat. (A paradox: as I’m posting with the very media that I’m hating. Anger is a gift.)

7/13: Festival Pier, Philly. Soundgarden, general admission, in the greatest city in the world. About time. $2.50 pints at the bar next-door, mushrooms, a flask and some weed. I got caught in a mind riot.

Their set wasn’t as good, but my going completely bonkers made up for that. Not standing a mile back watching a jumboscreen made up for it. The massive pit made up for it. Unleashing a can of pent-up, chemical-and-music induced raging made up for it.

Consequently, my memory of the concert is just a blur, or a smudge. Energy and movement, pushing, headbanging. “Jesus Christ Pose.” The crushing end of “Rusty Cage.” I remember that the only song off Louder was “Ugly Truth,” but that they played “Pretty Noose” and during the encore, “Mailman.” Which is almost a fair trade.

“The Day I Tried to Live.” Classic, heavy. Notice the dude who crowdsurfs through at 1:25. What a fucking badass. (It’s me.) People don’t crowdsurf anymore? Fuck that. How could crowdsurfing ever go out of style?! Find me during other epic moments of the 7/13 vids.

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