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Music journalist Travis Hay drops some knowledge and insight about local and national music news, offers reviews and offers a place for conversation on all things music.
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Posts Tagged ‘Soundgarden’

The best concerts of 2010

Monday, December 27th, 2010

When I look back at all of the wonderful shows I was lucky enough to attend in 2010 it seems pretty clear that it was a great year for concerts in Seattle. From big names like Arcade Fire, Gorillaz and Muse coming to town to festivals like Bumbershoot attracting music fans young and old to see the likes of Drake, Bob Dylan and Weezer, in my book there was no better place to be than in Seattle for concerts in 2010.

With so many amazing concerts to choose from I’m surprised I somehow managed to narrow down my list of favorite concerts of the year to 15. Not surprising is that 11 of my 15 favorites were from local artists big and small. Here are my favorite shows of the year in chronological order with a one-sentece summary for each :

Shabazz Palaces at Neumos 01.08.10
One of the most hyped local hip-hip acts delivered during its public debut

McCready and McKagan having a hootenanny Photo by Jason Tang

Hootenanny for Haiti at the Showbox 02.28.10

Some of Seattle’s biggest stars came out for a good cause

No-Fi Soul Rebellion at Nectar Photo by Alex Crick

Ear Candy Birthday Bash at Nectar 03.20.10
A birthday with Katie Kate, No-Fi Soul Rebellion, Lisa Dank and Queerbait! is a damn good birthday

Shawn Smith fronting a reunited Mother Love Bone

Brad and friends at the Showbox  04.14.10

Why yes I would like a Mother Love Bone reunion featuring Shawn Smith on vocals.

Soundgarden at the Showbox 04.16.10
The biggest reunion of the year in a very small setting (more…)


Full details on Soundgarden’s new album Telephantasm

Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Information on the new Soundgarden album was released earlier this morning.

As previously reported the band will have a “new,” unreleased song “Black Rain,” featured in the upcoming Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock video game, which hits store shelves Sept. 28. New is in quotes because the song is an unreleased b-side from the band’s Badmotorfinger recording sessions.

 Today it was announced that  1 million copies of the game will also come bundled with Soundgarden’s highly anticipated career retrospective album “Telephantasm.” This will be the first time a game in the Guitar Hero series will be released with a music album. The track list for the 12-song album reads like a greatest hits album with 11 songs previously released and “Black Rain” acting as the lone unreleased song. Songs for the album are taken from  the Deep Six EP, Screaming Life EP, Fopp EP, Ultramega OK, Louder Than Love, Badmotorfinger, Superunknown and Down on the Upside (Full track list below the jump).

(more…)


Unreleased material from Soundgarden coming later this year

Friday, June 18th, 2010

The first bit of new music from Soundgarden will be released later this year in the form of a playable song on the video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock.

The unreleased song “Black Rain” is a part of the tracklist for the game, which will be released Sept. 21, 2010. The song will be the first bit of new music from the newly reunited band in more than a decade. Since reuniting not much has been going on in the Soundgarden camp this year aside from playing a one-off reunion show at the Showbox (read Ear Candy’s review here) and prepping for its upcoming Lollapalooza headlining set. A heavily rumored box set that is expected to include rarities, b-sides and more unreleased goodies has yet to be dated for release. Perhaps “Black Rain” surfacing is a good sign the box set will see the light of day some time this year.

A reunited band releasing highly anticipated new music via video game isn’t a new marketing tactic. A few years back Rock Band 2 featured “Shackler’s Revenge,” a then unreleased song by Guns N Roses, when Axl Rose was attempting to make a comeback with Chinese Democracy. Of course, Soundgarden is a bit of a different beast than GNR.


REVIEW & Set list: Soundgarden triumphantly rides the reunion snake during its return to the stage

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

The Showbox at the Market hosted the most buzzed-about band rehearsal ever in Seattle Friday night when the reunited Soundgarden played its first show in nearly 13 years.

Being away from the stage for nearly a decade and a half didn’t seem to phase Soundgarden, which is gearing up for a headlining spot at Lollapalooza in August and other tour dates. Once the band hit its groove a few songs into its 18-song set the seminal grunge rockers were on top of their game and the ecstatic sold-out crowd was on top of the world. For 90 minutes they took a group of fist-pumping, mosh-pitting, hair-swinging fans on a ride filled with hits, deep album cuts and rarities.

All the pieces were in place for the makings of Soundgarden’s monstrous hybrid of straight-ahead rock and powerful, dark metal. Kim Thayil’s massive riffs, Chris Cornell’s wailing vocals, Ben Sheperd’s booming bass licks and Matt Cameron’s thunderous drumming all played equal roles in the band’s triumphant return. Things kicked off with “Spoonman” signaling what could’ve been a safe set of radio staples. But the minute the heavy, droning opening notes of “Gun” began, which was the second song of the set, it was clear the show wouldn’t be  a romp through the hits (“Burden in My Hand,” “Blackhole Sun” and “Jesus Christ Pose” were noticeably missing from the set list). Soundgarden not only proved they are back they also made a statement that they’ve come back on their own terms, and those terms don’t necessarily involve catering to the members of their fanbase who know them best because of commercial radio.

The decision to stick to mostly older material – although I suppose all of the band’s material can be considered old since the band’s last studio record was released14 years ago – was definitely the right move. While the band didn’t have the same sense of danger and volatility it held back in its Sub Pop and SST days, songs like “Big Dumb Sex,” and the band’s first single, 1987’s “Hunted Down” sounded fresh, aggressive and somewhat raw when the band dusted off its catalog. The latter is being reissued by Sub Pop as a limited-edition 7” single today. Surprisingly, the show ended with a cover of The Doors’ “Waiting For The Sun.” The band gave the song a near demonic twist with Sheperd putting a heavy emphasis on the low end and Thayil’s guitar taking the riff in the devilish direction of heavy metal territory.

I was lucky enough to see the band twice when the group was in its prime – once in 1994 at the Kitsap Bowl and again in 1996 at the Gorge as part of Lollapalooza where they performed after the Ramones and before Metallica – and Friday’s show was on par with how I remember Soundgarden. Sure Cornell couldn’t quite hit his howl as high as he used to and he definitely didn’t hold the notes for as long as he did when he was in his twenties, but that’s to be expected. Oh, and unlike the past Soundgarden shows I’ve witnessed Cornell kept his shirt on (sorry ladies). But don’t think because he remained fully clothed that he isn’t still the golden god of grunge.

If there is any bad blood between the members of the Soundgarden camp they did a good job of masking any animosity. The guys were all smiles throughout the evening. During the bridge of “Outshined” Cornell playfully waved the microphone stand over his head. When he wasn’t bashing away at the skins Cameron could barely contain his grin and Sheperd could also be seen smiling on occasion. Cornell even walked behind Thayil during a guitar solo and raised his hands in the air encouraging the crowd to give it up for the lead axe man. It was pretty clear they were having fun together while working out the kinks and that there was some chemistry happening on stage.

While you could tell the band was having fun, they were still officially “rehearsing” so for the most part the guys were all business which made for little banter between songs. At one point Cornell thanked the fans for being positive about the reunion and another he said the band wasn’t going to just play songs they stopped playing in 1998. He said the band would be playing songs they stopped playing in 1990, hence the depth of the set list. Other than those two comments there wasn’t much interaction with the audience.

Watching Soundgarden, which has sold an estimated 20 million records worldwide, play to a hometown crowd in a club setting (the Showbox has a capacity of about 1,000) made it feel like 1991 all over again. Adding to that atmosphere was Chris Cornell’s hairstyle and the large number of grunge icons in the crowd. Cornell grew his hair out for the reunion and while it’s not at its Louder Than Love level of length and volume, it is at shoulder length which is a far cry from the spiky and short hairdo he’s been sporting the last decade. During “Flower” he shook his head left and right as if he was trying to remember how to rock out with his new locks and while doing so he ended up looking a lot like his old self. Spotted in the crowd were dozens of major players from the days of the OK Hotel and Velvet Elvis. Mark Arm, Kurt Bloch, Bruce Fairweather, Stone Gossard, founding Soundgarden bassist Hiro Yamamoto and even Sub Pop head honcho Jonathan Poneman were on hand to witness the band’s return.

The evening definitely felt historically significant for Seattle’s music community but it wasn’t solely because of who was in attendance. Two days earlier at the same venue hosted another grunge reunion of note. Members of Mother Love Bone reunited with Shawn Smith helming the microphone in place of the deceased Andy Wood and Malfunkshun, Wood’s band with his Brother Kevin, also took the stage with Smith handling the vocals. Both bands were instrumental in the development of the genre. The concert also took place during the first night of this year’s Coachella Music Festival, which is where earlier this year the band was rumored to make its first reunion appearance, although for the longest time the possibility of a reunion was always denied.

In 2005 during Cornell’s days in Audioslave I had the opportunity to interview him on his tour bus. It was supposed to be a 10-minute conversation but I ended up getting more than an hour of face time with him while he was doing vocal warmups. The experience remains one of the highlights of my career and the result was this profile. During our conversation (read the full transcript here) I asked him about the possibility of reuniting with his Soundgarden bandmates and he made it sound like it would never happen.

“I don’t think there are too many rock bands in history that can look at the beginning and middle and ending of themselves and see what I see when I think of Soundgarden. I think from the beginning through the middle and the end it was such a perfect ride and such a perfect legacy to leave,” said Cornell. “(Getting back together) would take the lid off that and could possibly change what up to now, to me, seems like the perfect lifespan of the band. I can’t think of any reason to mess with that.”

Obviously things have changed quite a bit since then. Rumblings of a Soundgarden reunion started when Cornell and the rest of Audioslave split in 2007. But the rumors really began to fly in March of last year when three-quarters of the band performed three Soundgarden songs on stage together at the Crocodile with Tad Doyle of TAD (who was also in the crowd Friday) fronting the band. It was a jaw-dropping moment to witness and after that show the flames were stoked for a reunion.

Cornell officially announced the reunion and the launch of a website, Soundgardenworld.com, on New Year’s Eve. Details about the reunion were pretty much nonexistent until it was announced the band would play its first reunion concert at this year’s Lollapalooza a few weeks ago (take that Coachella). Thursday morning a rumor about a secret Soundgarden show at the Showbox was leaked onto the Internet but there was confusion over whether it was a private party or a public show. Later Thursday afternoon Billboard.com reported the show was indeed happening and the cat was out of the bag.

No information was made public about how to buy tickets, which led to fans lining up outside of the Showbox Friday and waiting for up to five hours to have a chance to buy tickets only to find out the venue was not selling tickets at its box office. Soundgarden eventually ended up playing under the name Nudedragons, an anagram for Soundgarden, and tickets were sold exclusively online. Unfortunately, the email blast with the information for how purchase tickets was randomly sent to fans who signed up for the band’s fanclub which meant some fans got the email while others were left waiting for news about how to purchse tickets. I waited in line at the Showbox to buy tickets and I didn’t get an email from the fanclub until 12:09 p.m., a good two hours after the show had already sold out. I was able to attend the show because a very generous friend offered to take me as his +1. Here’s to hoping the next time Soundgarden plays in town the ticket-buying process won’t be as frustrating.

It took 13 years for Soundgarden to reunite and return to the stage and when they did they seemed to pick up right where they left off. Now that the band has shook off some of the rust it built up after being out of commission for so long there’s no telling what will happen next. If the band sounds as good as it did Friday at future reunion gigs maybe it will lead to a bigger local show (I’m looking at you Bumbershoot), or even better, a new album.

Setlist:
Spoonman
Gun
Searching With My Good Eye Closed
Rusty Cage
Beyond the Wheel
Flower
Ugly Truth
Fell on Black Days
Hunted Down
Nothing to Say
Loud Love
Blow Up The Outside World
Pretty Noose
Outshined
Slaves and Bulldozers
Encore:
Get On The Snake
Big Dumb Sex
Waiting for the Sun (Doors Cover)


What’s happening with the Soundgarden reunion?

Monday, February 8th, 2010

It’s been more than a month since Chris Cornell let the world know he is getting his old band back together via Twitter, and since nary a word has been spoken of the reunion plans.

On Jan. 22 a brief e-mail was sent out to those who signed up for the latest Soundgarden news over at Soundgardenworld.com. It reads as follows:

“Thanks to all for signing up. Stay tuned for more details! Loudest of Love – Ben, Chris, Kim and Matt.”

The band was rumored to be headlining a night of the Coachella Music Festival in Indio, Calif. but when the festival’s lineup was dropped Soundgarden was missing. So what are Ben, Kim, Matt and Chris up to, and when will they make their reunion show debut?  I haven’t the foggiest idea, but here are a few guesses about what could be in the works for the Soundgarden camp.

The rumor has been that the band will likely tour the summer festival circuit instead of plot out a countrywide trek due to Matt Cameron’s commitments to Pearl Jam. This seems most likely what will happen, but don’t expect to see too many U.S. festival dates. I’m guessing the band will play lots of European festivals this summer and perhaps come back to the states next year.

Speaking of stateside festivals, while Coachella is out out the mix for potential festival appearances this year, don’t rule out other American festivals. Lollapalooza seems like a no-brainer given the band’s association with the 90s alt-rock roadshow. Also, Sasquatch! has yet to reveal its lineup and there’s Bumbershoot too. Yes, Soundgarden definitely is not your typical Sasquatch! fare but it would be a coup for the festival to nab a Soundgarden set and the festival is sort of on the band’s home turf. Also, a Bumbershoot with Soundgarden as a headliner could be massive.

Another interesting thing to think about is how many reunion shows the band will play. They could pull a Pixies and only perform select dates and then reunite for a full tour a few years later. Or they could pull an Eagles and reunite “when Hell freezes over” and have a reunion tour that lasts almost an entire decade. My money is on the former happening.

All of this is pure speculation of course, but since mums the word from the band speculation is all fans are left with for the time being.


Soundgarden reunites, ruins my prediction column

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

That’s the question I asked myself when I heard the news of the Soundgarden reunion. It was announced Dec. 31 by Cornell via Twitter.

You see, on Dec. 30 I wrote a predictions column for Crosscut letting its readers know what to expect from the local music scene in 2010. The column, which has yet to be posted, included my prediction that Soundgarden would reunite. Now it was no stretch to assume such a thing was going to happen, but I find it to be almost too coincidental that Cornell dropped the news of the reunion hours after I filed my column with Crosscut.

When the reunion was announced I sent an e-mail to my editor and the Nostradamus-esque paragraph I wrote predicting a Soundgarden reunion was taken out of my predictions column and it was turned into this blog post in which I share my thoughts on the reunion and I play Nostradamus again, this time hopefully predicting a Monsters of Grunge triple-bill of Soungarden, Alice In Chains and Pearl Jam at Bumbershoot 2010 (hey, a guy can dream, can’t he?).

I will post some of the column here once it gets posted over on Crosscut, until then here is what I wrote on Dec. 30, 2009 in regards to what was then the possibility of a Soundgarden reunion. And if you’re looking at this Chris Cornell, yes I did share my thoughts of an AIC, SG, PJ show in hopes that you were reading.

“Also on the grunge note, the Crocodile hosted a show in March where Tad Doyle, formerly of grunge heavyweights TAD, played a three-song set of Soundgarden songs with every member of Soundgarden except for Chris Cornell. This immediately flamed Soundgarden reunion rumors and while Krist Novaselic shot down the rumors of the band headlining Coachella 2010 (for the record, I believe him), a reunion could still happen. Why? Because Cornell’s last few albums tanked and all four band members were spotted hanging out together (this time it wasn’t at a Cinnabon). Also, as we all know money talks and if the price was right I’m sure Soundgarden would reunite (even though in 2005 Cornell told me a reunion wasn’t likely). The only reason I see it not happening this year is due to drummer’s Matt Cameron’s current Pearl Jam commitments.”


Soundgarden to reunite? Here’s what Chris Cornell has to say

Wednesday, April 8th, 2009

It looks like the possibility of a Soundgarden reunion is coming closer to a reality. Or at least it does based off some of the interesting, and somewhat contradictory, statements made by Chris Cornell in the wake of TADGARDEN.

Well, okay, maybe the possibility of a Soundgarden reunion doesn’t actually exist. Chris Cornell is making it difficult to read between the lines here.

continue reading


Soundgarden reunites!

Monday, August 11th, 2008

Apparently the allure of freshly baked Cinnabons can do what the 20th anniversary of Sub Pop Records couldn’t: reunite Soundgarden.

There are simply too many jokes that could be made of this reunion story, which in itself is one big joke, so I won’t even try.

Just go ahead and click here to read about the reunion.

If you want a brief rundown of how things happened before clicking the above link, according to the story, Matt Cameron was “killing time between Pearl Jam practices,” Kim Thayil was scolding Chris Cornell for not wearing a shirt at the Cinnabon managed by Thayil and Ben Shepherd happened to be walking by and noticed his former bandmates at the mall.

I can’t wait for the upcoming Soundgarden shows at the Sunglass Hut and Piercing Pagoda.


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Music journalist Travis Hay drops some knowledge and insight about local and national music news, offers reviews and offers a place for conversation on all things music.