You will be redirected back to your article in seconds


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.


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

  • Danny Bennett, Tony Bennett, Sir Lucian

    Verve President Danny Bennett Steps Down as UMG Restructures Jazz and Classical Divisions

    Verve Label Group president/CEO Danny Bennett has stepped down, Universal Music Group announced Thursday. Oversight of Verve will be taken over by Dickon Stainer, president/CEO of Universal Classics and Jazz, who will add the labels to a stable that already includes heading up Deutsche Grammophon and the Decca Label Group. The restructuring was cited by the [...]

  • Exclusive All RoundMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Lennon Stella's Post-'Nashville' Pop Video Shows 'Bitch'-iness Cuts Across Genders

    What happens when a Canadian country girl goes pop? America is finding out this year via Lennon Stella, the 19-year-old former co-star of TV’s “Nashville,” who signed to Barry Weiss’ Records imprint (which has a deal via Columbia Records) in the winter of 2018, and who this month released a stellar new song, “Bitch (Takes [...]

  • Members of the public mourn at

    Guy Oseary’s New Zealand Fundraiser Nears $150,000, Continues Raising Money

    In the wake of the horrific shootings at New Zealand mosques last week that killed some 49 people, Maverick chief Guy Oseary launched a GoFundMe campaign to “support those affected by this tragedy at this very difficult time,” and began it with an $18,000 donation. Boosted by donations from many celebrities — including Amy Schumer, [...]

  • Justin Carter Dead: Country Singer Dies

    Country Singer Justin Carter Dies After Accidental Shooting on Music Video Set

    Texas country music upstart Justin Carter has died from a gunshot wound, in an accident that took place while a gun was being as a prop for a music video being filmed in his apartment, according to reports out of Houston. Carter, 35, died Saturday, the same week he had signed a management deal and [...]

  • Karen O

    Karen O & Danger Mouse Talk ‘Lux Prima,’ Perform at New York Times Event

    “We’re gonna do one more song…” Karen O said at her and Danger Mouse’s performance and chat in New York Wednesday night, “… and then comes the hard part, which is talking about music.” She was probably inadvertently paraphrasing the age-old adage that attempting to write about music is like “dancing about architecture,” but the [...]

  • Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend Roger Daltrey,

    Why Aren't the Who Playing Woodstock 50?

    Whither the Who? That’s a big question for anyone perusing the Woodstock 50 lineup and noticing that the biggest act from the original 1969 lineup that is still around and active is not on the bill. The timing might have even seemed fortuitous, since the band recently announced plans for a 29-city American tour this [...]

  • KCRW

    KCRW Moves Into New Headquarters as Star DJ Jason Bentley Mulls His Future

    Influential public radio station KCRW has finally left the basement and entered its new home: a sparkling, 34,000-square-foot, three-story $21.7 million glass structure on the campus of Santa Monica College. Part of a $115 million development of its Center for Media and Design, it’s a glittering, shiny and massive step up from its previous studio [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content