×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Soundgarden

On the second night of its trio of Wiltern dates, a revitalized Soundgarden leveled the sold-out audience with an emphatic, two hour set that felt more like a resurrection than a nostalgic retrospective.

On the second night of its trio of Wiltern dates, a revitalized Soundgarden leveled the sold-out audience with an emphatic, two hour set that felt more like a resurrection than a nostalgic retrospective. Many of the group’s biggest hits were omitted — most conspicuously, the ubiquitous “Black Hole Sun” — but they were hardly missed, re-christening songs that may have passed with little fanfare during the band’s first go-round.

With its legacy somewhat obscured by the passage of time and the ever-growing mythology surrounding Kurt Cobain, Soundgarden has missed out on the critical deification that has elevated Nirvana to a sort-of untouchable strata in musical history. In fact, Nirvana is seemingly the only grunge band that most people remember when making a cursory appraisal of the era. This is perhaps understandable, considering the litany flannel-wearing posers that emerged from the Pacific Northwest in the early ’90s, but Soundgarden deserves — and seems to be finally receiving — its just due as a truly talented and innovative artistic force.

Opening with the doom-laden thud of “Nothing To Say” — an obscure track from the group’s debut EP “Screaming Life” — Soundgarden showcased a deliberately paced, distortion-laden motif that would maintain throughout the evening. Drummer Matt Cameron struck his kit with overwhelming force as guitarist Kim Thayil displayed a wonderfully-nuanced technical sensibility; channeling Sabbath, Zeppelin and Blue Cheer into an awe-inspiring psychedelic concoction. Forceful readings of “Outshined,” “Gun” and “Jesus Christ Pose” followed, with the latter benefiting from Cameron’s virtuosic, unrelenting drum performance. Singer Chris Cornell was in top form throughout the evening, utilizing his dexterous, husky vocal style to cut through the overwhelming cacophony created by the instruments.

Cornell is a rock frontman in the prototypical sense, delivering a combination of overt sexuality and devil-may-care attitude that is entirely captivating in the live setting. In his baggy white shirt and unkempt, grunge-era maine, Cornell cascaded across the stage, effortlessly tearing into his vocal chords for the bleeding, hypnotic refrains of “Get On the Snake,” “Drawing Flies” and “Blow Up The Outside World.” “Ty Cobb” provided a blast of mid-’80s hardcore while “Fell On Black Days” revealed the band’s more contemplative melodic capabilities. Often, Cornell’s persona has overshadowed the stunning power of his band, but on this evening, both forces seemed to work in perfect tandem.

The bluesy, rough-hewn strut of “Rowing” closed the 21-song set with a restrained fury; typical of the material found on the band’s 2012 reunion album “King Animal.” After the audience bellowed and applauded for a handful of minutes, the group returned for a three-song encore that ended with the stunning slow-burn of “Beyond the Wheel” — a composition that finds Cornell entering into an operatic blend of falsetto and chest voice that somehow works splendidly. Thayil and bassist Ben Shepherd concluded the evening with a blistering drone of feedback that sent the audience home with ears ringing.

At a little over two hours, the concert ran a bit long for a band that purveys such a sonically abrasive brand of rock music. Still, the audience remained attentive and enthusiastic until the very last squall of feedback dissipated.

Soundgarden

Wiltern Theater; 2,200 capacity; $85 top

Production: Presented by Live Nation. Performers: Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron, Ben Shepherd. Reviewed February 16, 2013.

More Music

  • 'Blurred Lines' Suit Ends With $5

    'Blurred Lines' Suit Ends With $5 Million Judgement Against Robin Thicke, Pharrell Williams

    After five years, the legal battle over the copyright of the Robin Thicke’s 2013 hit “Blurred Lines” has ended, with Marvin Gaye’s family being awarded a final judgment of nearly $5 million against the song’s primary writers, Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, according to CNN and other reports. The pair were accused of copyright infringement [...]

  • Jingle Punks at 10: Production Music

    Jingle Punks at 10: How the Production Music House Turned Passion Into Profits

    In a typical post-awards show scene, two music professionals start a friendly conversation at a bar. “I start telling him, ‘I’m the king of all jingles,’” says Jared Gutstadt, co-founder of Jingle Punks, the venerable production music house that he launched 10 years ago.“I thought I was talking to a complete stranger.” Turns out he [...]

  • Alison Wenham Steps Down as CEO

    Alison Wenham Steps Down as CEO of WIN

    After 12 years at the helm of the Worldwide Independent Network, a global trade organization for the independent music industry, Alison Wenham is stepping down as Chief Executive, it was announced today. Prior to joining WIN full time in 2016 Alison was CEO of The Association of Independent Music (AIM), which she started in 1999. [...]

  • Forrest Gump

    Guild of Music Supervisors Awards to Honor Joel Sill; King Princess to Perform (EXCLUSIVE)

    The Guild of Music Supervisors has announced that Joel Sill will receive the organization’s Legacy Award for his contribution to music in film. Sill’s body of work includes “Forrest Gump,” “The Goonies,” “Blade Runner,” “The Color Purple” and “My Cousin Vinny.” He will be joined by Spotify’s RISE artist, King Princess, who will be performing as [...]

  • Radiohead Seem Completely Underwhelmed by Rock

    Radiohead Seem Completely Underwhelmed by Rock Hall of Fame Induction

    Even by Radiohead standards, the group seem underwhelmed by their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, which was announced this morning. “The members of Radiohead have been surprised to learn of the band’s induction into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2019,” the group said in a statement. “The band thanks the [...]

  • Taylor SwiftTaylor Swift in concert at

    Taylor Swift 'Reputation' Concert Film to Hit Netflix on New Year’s Eve

    Taylor Swift today announced that she is “gifting the world front row seats to the last show of the U.S. leg” of her “Reputation” tour with a concert film that will premiere on Netflix New Year’s Eve. “This epic concert film features pyro, fireworks, multiple stages and of course, a 63 foot cobra named Karyn,” [...]

  • Radiohead Santa Barbara

    Radiohead, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks Inducted Into Rock Hall of Fame

    The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame  officially announced its 2019 inductees: Radiohead, Janet Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Def Leppard, The Cure, Roxy Music and the Zombies, according to Rolling Stone. The ceremony will be held at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center on March 29 and aired on HBO and broadcast on SiriusXM radio later in the year. Ticket details will be announced in January. Artists [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content