It happened like this: I was going to go to Soundgarden the next time they played in Sweden with the King Animal album and all, Being an old fan since the first time I heard and saw Rusty Cage and Jesus Christ Pose on MTV. I believe it was Alien Nation that broke it for us here in Sweden. This new band was more or less unheard of and the Grunge term hadn’t really starting to flow. But back to how it came to me, the guy who doesn’t like travel nor large gatherings of people went on a concert is Stockholm. For the record, it doesn’t really matter if it is Stockholm or London or New York, it is the travelling part that I hate. Being in Stockholm was a nice experience as is being in London and New York. I had on my own decided against going, making the effort to book travel, hotel and finding my way to the location for the play all felt like a mountain of problems. So while I was spending time trying to trash-talk the would have been great experience into crap more or less – my wife had other plans.
After me going through a repertoire of crap talking how dull a concert would be, she blurts out something along this: ” You are going to a concert, it has been a surprise but you are talking so much bad things about it. Oh, and WE are going – I have already talked to your mom about babysitting.”
What do you say to that? Well, I for one felt a bit shocked, awed and so damned happy that I have the best wife ever that knows me better than my own depressed ass does. 🙂
I believe that this is an important part to mention since it will give you a nice feel for how to read the following lines about the concert knowing that a guy that hates travels and don’t like large gatherings of people isn’t likely to be the most experienced with concerts…
Anyway, to the place – we started with being in time to experience the warm up band: GRAVEYARD. Now, to say that the sound was bad from a guy that is spending time and effort on getting a comfortable setup at home with headphones and amps etc would be mild. The sound that greeted us made any attempt to distinguish any song or lyrics nigh impossible. It was also a wave of discomfort. The sound was so high and badly configured that the ticket in my hand vibrated and tickled my palm. My larynx and chest also felt the huge impact of noise. I think that this was a shock for me and I just thought – “I can’t take Soundgarden for 2 hours like this!”. Panic started to creep up on me but a friend that is more experienced had some comforting words about the warm up band and main band having way different sound. To be on the safe side – I bought a pair of earplugs that would, according to the commercials, kill the bad noise – not the music. They did some comfort to my ears during the last songs of Graveyard. I really felt sorry for Graveyard because I really think that they would have been a good band had they had a better sound set-up.
Intermission, time to go into the hockey arena of grey concrete and take our seats. Soundgarden coming on stage and hope rose and then stayed. They were absolutely marvelous and the earplugs did their job and I enjoyed the +2 hours gig, and only my sore ear canals testified at some discomfort from the experience.
Jesus Christ Pose
Let Me Drown
By Crooked Steps
Been Away Too Long
The Day I Tried to Live
Fell on Black Days
Blow Up the Outside World
Black Hole Sun
Burden in My Hand
A Thousand Days Before
Slaves & Bulldozers
according to setlist.fm ->>
So how was it? Well, it started off pretty abruptly, we had more or less expected to hear Searching with my good eye closed, so when it kicked off with something different more direct, it felt like you had to run a bit to keep up. For a few songs, the audience (a measly 4860) and Soundgarden didn’t feel like it connected. But with By Crooked steps, things got up to another level and soon the entire place was in heaven. Matt Cameron and Ben Shepard laid the ground for a heavy beat and bass that rumbled. Kim Thayil made what he does, making that guitar give that edge to the songs and Chris? Well, lets just say that around By Crooked steps, he went from being good – to becoming great. There is something to say about this band, and that is that they gave it their very best from that song and onwards and the audience? Well, we didn’t want it to end. Seriously, look at that playlist, and if you like me really adores the Badmotorfinger album, you can realize that I was in heaven. Still, the setlist had some old and new songs to it, which was great.
Was it really that good or are you just that much of a fan?
Well, both I have to say. If you don’t like Soundgarden, I really couldn’t say why you would find yourself at a hockey-rink listening to a band that been on a hiatus since the 90’s and just released an album. Say you did – you would most likely be like the crowd wearing one of these shirts (unless Soundgarden was worn!); Pearl Jam, Motörhead, AC/DC, Iron Maiden, Eagles of Death Metal, Them Crooked Vultures, Rancid (yeah – one Rancid jacket, to my wife’s excitement). If not, I guess you may have felt like the culture columnist from one of the larger newspapers feeling totally out of touch with grunge and describing it like torture. She must have been more awkward around people than me. The crowd was loving it! But fortunately, other newspapers DID send rockers to review rock concerts and they too loved it. So, the sound and the place, Hovet, wasn’t really good – but Soundgarden was good enough to make these things appear minor in the end of the evening. Not a bad feat. I however also thank my impulse buy of a pair of ear plugs that helped define the music into different instruments and singing instead of a rather too bass heavy noise carpet. It may very well be a lot of that discomfort comes with my inexperience of live music and concerts. That said, I was to Green Day with my wife a few years back, and that sound was excellent – still in an open arena though.
The best part of it, was that I had seen Soundgarden live, something I felt that I should have done some 20 years or so ago when I was living and breathing Grunge music and Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Stone Temple Pilots were my house-gods. But, never accomplishing that feat due to not having much spending cash and still had that touch of not liking large gatherings of people – that travelling wasn’t so bad at that time, made me relieve it all at the age of 39. Yes, I would have loved to see them when I) was 17-18 but feeling like 20 again at 39 years – that is a feat I would like to share with many people. So, thank you Soundgarden, thank you very much, for everything that you have done for me. You thanked us for being fans – and with a band like yours – that is not something that has ever felt hard to defend or explain or being proud of.
Can’t wait to see you play again!