Scene report: Soundgarden on a roof
By Ramon Ramirez
Editor’s note: This article was originally published March 15, 2014
Half of Soundgarden’s hard rock specialists are AARP members. The band still obliterates trendy indie jokers like a Saint Bernard shaking off raindrops.
Turns out If you’re going to stage a series of made-for-Direct TV, Guitar Center-sanctioned concerts, the rooftop, urban rock space is still pretty cool.
“You will be on TV do you understand this?” a cat-herding producer told an eager, heavily dude-centric mass of fans on top of the W. 6th St. Starr building Friday night.
“3 … 2 … 1: lose your minds.”
Re-recording introductions and general crowd cheering proved a small tariff. The pop up Guitar Center “Picking Parlor” was was an instant hit for anyone that ever killed suburban hours by messing with the expensive stuff at their area Center.
The event catered to rock fans that live by the 101X dial, and could be found downtown 15 years ago tolerating bands like Flickerstick.
Soundgarden—singer Chris Cornell, guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd, drummer Matt Cameron—walked on-stage in dark denim and black, informal blazers. Thayil’s lush, gray beard and black beanie dad swag is still a sight to behold.
The band clocked a just shy of 20-song set that dipped into its Sub Pop years (“Hunted Down”) and reliably closed with monster singles (“Spoonman,” “Black Hole Sun”) followed by—and this teeth-kick sequence is vital—“Outshined,” “Rusty Cage,” and 10 minutes of forest fire feedback. Shepherd knocked over two ampeg stacks and hurled his bass.
Soundgarden’s South By Southwest run—one that also budgeted in a well-received, cover-to-cover polishing of 1994’s “Superunknown” Thursday night at the iTunes Festival—was about industry timing, sure, but also a mounted defense. Hard rock is powerful, technical stuff. The difference between Cornell and, say, Win Butler of Arcade Fire, is that it’s just about impossible to sing and play Soundgarden’s songs at the same time.