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Saturday, April 17, 2010

Live Review: Nudedragons (Soundgarden) at The Showbox

Posted by on Sat, Apr 17, 2010 at 4:30 PM

What began Thursday with speculation about the reunited Soundgarden playing a secret show Friday night at Showbox at the Market as NudeDragons (an anagram of Soundgarden) led to a shitstorm of tweets and Facebook status updates on Friday when online-only tickets went on sale at 10am, selling out in minutes. Talk/rock radio jabberjaws couldn't shut up about it, nor could the rest of the country who have had the grunge coals burning under their ass since Lollapalooza announced Soundgarden would headline this summer's festival in Chicago.

The reunion revival train has been chugging along strong for years, and virtually every ex-band has decided to put down their past differences and regroup for the hell of it (if hell was money). With Pavement and Soundgarden now back together, it seems that the only band left to reform is the Smiths.

So what about this Soundgarden? Aside from lead guitarist Kim Thayil, bassist Ben Shepherd, and drummer Matt Cameron playing a few old Soundgarden songs with Tad Doyle last year at the Crocodile, Soundgarden has not played together since 1997. I had a hard time imagining how well they would sound together after all these years. Would Chris Cornell somehow try to wrap his laughable solo work into the set? Would the band update any of their songs, or better yet, would there be new songs?

Everything about the Showbox buzzed with grunge-y nostalgia. If someone wasn't wearing their old Soundgarden t-shirt, they were wearing a limited -edition $25 NudeDragons t-shirts they picked up at the merch table (which will likely fetch a pretty penny on ebay one day). Many of the great people at Sub Pop were in house, as were Mark Arm and Matt Lukin of Mudhoney, Eddie Vedder, photographer Charles Peterson, Built to Spill's Scott Plouf, and Exene Cervenka of Los Angeles punk legends X. There was plenty of joy and stories shared amongst the crowd—it was almost like a grunge reunion, all the old guards back on the scene for the night, as though the last decade never happened. DJ Self Administered Beatdown played some choice rock n roll slabs for two hours (hats off for dropping Big Black "He's A Whore"), leading up to the 10pm arrival of Soundgarden, ahem, NudeDragons.

Once the first notes of set opener "Spoonman" rang out, the sold-out crowd inched closer to the stage, whooping and hollering, raising their fists and requisite devil horns. It was a loud, fierce opener: Shepherd whirled his bass as the low end frequencies rippled across the room; Chris Cornell, manning the microphone and guitar, hoisted his mic stand high into the air; Thayil played effortlessly and precisely, almost looking uninterested by what he was playing; and Cameron pummeled his kit with utmost dexterity and power. Cornell's voice, often as much a detriment as an asset to the overall sound of the band, proved to be in top form, hitting those highest notes of "Flower" without any pitchy warbling. The sound blasted through the speakers so clearly, you could only faintly hear the entire crowd singing along.

Midway through the set, the band launched into two songs from their first single: "Hunted Down" and "Nothing To Say." The single, which has long been out of print, was re-released today by Sub Pop on limited transluscent orange vinyl as part of the onslaught of Record Store Day releases, not that Cornell knew anything about it. (Thayil had to correct him when said the reissued single would be available this summer.)

The banter was kept to a bare minimum, Cornell only offering his thank yous after every song. Likewise, the bandmates kept to themselves onstage, setting out to play what they were there to play. There were no noticeable wisecracks or friendly gesturing amongst each other. "Been there, done that, let's just play" seemed to be their mantra for the night.

And although it was a grunge show, where stage diving and crowd surfing was a staple back in the day, only one person got himself swimming over a sea of hands before security promptly brought him back down. No one breached the stage to huck him/herself over the audience. It was a little bit disappointing. Of course, half this crowd is now too old to do that shit anyway, so who can you blame?

For 100 minutes (which included a three-song encore that closed with the Doors' "Waiting For The Sun"), the band played hard, but not aggressive, sweating in their black t-shirts and tight pants, while Cornell thrashed around his shoulder length frizz hair. Most of the songs were from pre-'93, so there was no "Black Hole Sun" for an audience of grunge purists to boo about. No new songs were debuted, nor were any songs modernized or revamped. It was a set that stayed true to what it was, and that's about all you could hope for in a reunion. Soundgarden has its place in music history, and maybe the band can never again be what it once was. That said, history does repeat itself, and sometimes the results are much greater than you anticipated.

Complete setlist after the jump.

1. Spoonman
2. Gun
3. Searching With My Good Eye Closed
4. Rusty Cage
5. Beyond The Wheel
6. Flower
7. Ugly Truth
8. Fell On Black Days
9. Hunted Down
10. Nothing To Say
11. Loud Love
12. Blow Up The Outside World
13. Pretty Noose
14. Outshined
15. Slaves And Bulldozers


16. Get On The Snake
17. Big Dumb Sex
18. Waiting For The Sun


Comments (25) RSS

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Lee 1
Are you positive you mean "detrimental"?

Also, the past tense of "lead" is "led."
Posted by Lee on April 17, 2010 at 5:16 PM · Report this
biju 2
I'm so fucking jealous
Posted by biju on April 17, 2010 at 6:02 PM · Report this
StillNon 3
GOT DAYUM, Down on the Upside is such an amazing album.

I'm so proud that they're from here.
Posted by StillNon on April 17, 2010 at 6:02 PM · Report this
TVDinner 4
@1: And while we're at it, the possessive form of its is, well its. No apostrophe. Furthermore, the band "played hard but not aggressively."

Still, I feel a tear of nostalgia reading this review.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on April 17, 2010 at 6:15 PM · Report this
Mark Arm was not there. He's out of town.
Posted by Ruben Mendez on April 17, 2010 at 6:20 PM · Report this
detrimental asset = awesome.
Posted by Oxymoran on April 17, 2010 at 6:55 PM · Report this
People posting about the stranger's Soundgarden guys. Who gives a fuck. All the shit written in the Stranger is retarded anyways. Fucking lucky assholes who got to see this show. My first concert was Lallapooloza 96 in Lee's Summit, Missouri and I wanted tickets last night so bad. Oh well....they will be playing here a few more times.

Posted by n838 on April 17, 2010 at 7:02 PM · Report this
People posing shit like "my first concert was Lallapooloza 96 in Lee's Summit"...who GIVES A FUCK? Why would we care about your first fucking concert? Save it for your Livejournal. And yes, the Stranger has entered a lazy phase. Hacky lazy douchebaskets.

Oh, Soundgarden will play again.
Posted by 939 on April 17, 2010 at 7:12 PM · Report this
StillNon 9
"Save it for your LiveJournal" (#8)

LOL, nailed it.
Posted by StillNon on April 17, 2010 at 7:21 PM · Report this
Mark Arm was there.
Posted by Italkedtohim on April 17, 2010 at 7:29 PM · Report this
@1&4- Only NERDS correct grammer on the internet and Soundgarden would agree
Posted by bullfaddle on April 17, 2010 at 8:05 PM · Report this
StillNon 12
11: He's a paid journalist who should try a little harder so shut the fuck up.

If he was a musician who made errors during a public performance, he'd face the same scrutiny.

Posted by StillNon on April 17, 2010 at 8:22 PM · Report this
It was a great set... it took me back to the days of Under the Rail and the Rock Candy.
No frills, no crazy light shows, just a night of thunder that's been missing in the Seattle scene for a while.

As far as "doing it for the money" is concerned - why the hell not? I know Ben, and he wouldn't take the stage if it wasn't interesting for him. If a big payday is coming, I'd rather see these guys get it than the cookie cutter "Hot Topic" cookie cutter shit that's out there these days.

on a side note - who gives a flying rat's ass about the grammar errors on an internet blog? Go check your feces for fiber, and let people have a typo or two...
Posted by WT on April 17, 2010 at 8:31 PM · Report this
mark was there!
Posted by mudhoney fan on April 17, 2010 at 9:03 PM · Report this
Note to 10, 14, and the rest of Seattle: Mark Arm is not interesting. He has nothing interesting to say with or about music. Only in Seattle does anyone take notice when he passes on the street or shows up at an event. Nobody else cares.
Posted by d.p. on April 17, 2010 at 9:58 PM · Report this
oh my god. i agree that it is beyond retarded to argue about whether or not mark arm was at the show...
but NEVER say anything bad about mark arm. he is the humblest, nicest, most uncaring about any fame or notice guy in the world....and hes MARK ARM.

and by the way the guy is fascinating. fuck you.
Posted by out of all the worthless douches in this city you pick HIM? on April 18, 2010 at 12:33 AM · Report this
TVDinner 17
@11: Yes, and...?
Posted by TVDinner http:// on April 18, 2010 at 1:00 AM · Report this
"detrimental asset." truly an accomplishment to be both at once.
Posted by drivel on April 18, 2010 at 11:30 AM · Report this
@15 wrote: "[Mark Arm] is the humblest, nicest, most uncaring about any fame or notice guy in the world."

I never said that he wasn't.

"....and hes MARK ARM."

Sorry, only in Seattle does that make you interesting. Q.E.D.
Posted by d.p. on April 18, 2010 at 1:02 PM · Report this
Good piece Travis! Some of these suckers haven't gone through the last minute phone call from the editor, nor the potential press list hassle at the box office. Neither have they tried taking notes in the dark after a couple of whiskeys, or gone home after the fact to sit down and write a 800-1000 story the same night. Great job!

Posted by J.A. O' Foley on April 18, 2010 at 10:55 PM · Report this
Did anyone record this set?
Posted by sexy MF on April 19, 2010 at 8:50 AM · Report this
Brian Cook 22
@12 actually, he's not a paid journalist. he's a freelancer and contributes to LineOut for the sheer joy of enduring other people's petty criticisms.
Posted by Brian Cook on April 19, 2010 at 9:46 AM · Report this
We pay Ritter (and all bloggers) in microwave burritos and beer; I've made some edits. (Also, "Detrimental Asset" is the name of Ritter's new youth-crew hardcore band; he was just trying to seed some hype about the project.)
Posted by Eric Grandy on April 19, 2010 at 10:10 AM · Report this

if you go on youtube and enter the info from the show you will find some audio. i have no idea how, because the show was no audio equipment or camera's... some people had camera phones, but the recording on the youtube vids sounds pretty good. It was a great show and I hope they do a few more shows before it is all done... and they seriously need to do a dvd of just Ben playing the bass...thats a show in itself
Posted by Benny on April 19, 2010 at 10:57 AM · Report this
I counted four backhand smears and sneers at Cornell. Knock it off, Ritter! I didn't see you smearing or sneering on any of the other guys.

Wasn't this review supposed to be about SOUNDGARDEN, the group? Three paragraphs mention members of the band with no negative inflections. Four paragraphs actually mention Soundgarden. Yet FIVE paragraphs mention Cornell with only one compliment that followed a slam at his voice.

(Make that FIVE backhand smears. I just read the "frizzy" hair comment. I love Kim, but wouldn't you consider HIS hair a bit frizzy too??? )

Posted by warriorwoman on April 22, 2010 at 10:13 AM · Report this

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