Show Date: 5/25/2013

In the banals of grunge and rock music of the last 25 years, Soundgarden are definitely one of the most important and one of the last bands of the nineties era to reunite after the disappointing flop of Chris Cornell’s solo hip-hop and R&B influenced album, Scream.  While not an immediate retreat after it’s failure, it was clear this isn’t really where the power of Cornell lies, but with his old band mates in Soundgarden. Thus, they returned to live music in 2010 with a full tour, along with a new record, King Animal, that picked up from the trip of Down On the Upside.

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Soundgarden previously ignored the Austin area during their original reunion tour, instead choosing to play Dallas and New Orleans, but for the first time in 16 years, they returned to the Austin Music Hall this past Saturday and picked up right where things left off. Starting with the Badmotorfinger classic, “Searching With My Good Eye Closed,” they launched into the whirlwind attack of “Jesus Christ Pose,” with drummer Matt Cameron pulling off the tricks and talents only he can do.

It became quite clear as the band charged in deep with their catalog, “Hands All Over,” and “Flower,” that this was not going to be a greatest hits set, but an incredibly heavy performance showing off the bands’ more metal tendencies and likeness to Black Sabbath.

The risk in this, and what ended up happening, is that it tends to alienate all but the most hardcore fans, as those unfamiliar with anything other than the acts’ singles appear apathetic towards songs they haven’t heard in the hay days of their youth. Unfortunately for the audience, this was apparent as Soundgarden brought out some fantastic classics, including the never before played, “Never the Machine Forever,”  a song by lead guitarist Kim Thayil from their former swan song, “Down on the Upside.”

Soundgarden were one of the first bands to sign to indie darling Sub Pop, and also one of the first to sign with a major label (A&M Records, now Interscope), and though they may not get much recognition from the modern crowd it’s clear they are an unbelievably worthy live band. Chris Cornell can peel paint off the walls with his voice. Ben Shepard offer so much more than most bassists, and Kim Thayil’s lead guitar and riff style signature his performance and virtuosity without falling into the silliness of over the top metal or blues phrasings of his contemporaries.

Soundgarden shook things up loud and hard in their 23 song set, covering the full spectrum of the records they have released. Noticeably absent was the lead single off their new record, “Been Away Too Long,” which is more modern rock and straight forward than the classic moments that make Soundgarden stand well above other bands of their era. That is what they certainly proved that night.
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Setlist

Searching with My Good Eye Closed
Jesus Christ Pose
Hands All Over
Rhinosaur
Spoonman
My Wave
Worse Dreams
The Day I Tried to Live
Mailman
A Thousand Days Before
Pretty Noose
Burden in My Hand
Never the Machine Forever
(Requested by Matt’s son. … more)
Flower
Outshined
Taree
Hunted Down
Drawing Flies
Blow Up the Outside World
Fell on Black Days
Incessant Mace
Encore:
New Damage
Rusty Cage

Jeff Tom

Jeff Tom

Owner and Editor-in-Chief at The Austin Current I'm a native Austinite. In 1998 I founded one of the first successful blogs on the Internet, and have been writing daily since. I'm a singer-songwriter with my own band, have started multiple successful businesses as an entrepreneur, and have been an avid participant of the music, comedy, technology, and film scene of Austin for over a dozen years.