Monday, May 13, 2013

Soundgarden review - May 12, 2013, Stage AE - Pittsburgh

I have mixed emotions regarding last night's Soundgarden show at Stage AE.   I cannot remember the reason but I missed the 1992 Lollapalooza show at Starlake.  You know, the one with Pearl Jam, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Soundgarden.  Not quite sure where I was.  I imagine I was out and about following the Grateful Dead.  It's a matter of conjecture I do not wish to fully explore.  Suffice to say, I've never seen Soundgarden.  And they're easily one of my top 10 favs.  I've never done a legit Top 10 list.  Maybe at the end of this post I'll have that figured out.  Oooh, to be an innocent blog reader... the building literary orgasmic anticipation. 

Anyhoo, Gig and I hit up the show last night.  She scored a couple freebies in advance so we weren't too concerned about getting there early.  Plus, it was unseasonably cold.  I didn't check the weather but there was a frost warning.  Weathering Heights Sons of Bitches.   I imagine it dipped down to the low 40's.  Kind of windy too.  But then again, I've dealt with considerably worse through the years.  There were a few Steelers games where my genitals fully retracted into my abdomen/spleen.  Not kewl.

I had noticed there was no opening band listed.  Kind of peculiar since the gates opened at 6:30pm.  But I was adamant about not seeing the set list.  So I had Gigi take a look.  We came to the conclusion that there would NOT be an opener.  Therefore, we had to bust ass and get our buttocks down to the lot formerly known as Gold Lot 2.  But we're too cheap, so we parked on the North Side and hoofed it on down.  We arrived with plenty of time to spare.

We saw this creepy rock'n'roller dude looking through a tiny hole in the fence.  I suppose he was hoping to catch a glance of his heroes.  His motives may have been true, but he was gradually evolving into this "yinzer, hipster peeping tom."

Another guy, considerably cooler than greasy, peeping tom, was playing an upright bass right outside the main entrance.  I think he probably made about $15 or so.  Surprisingly, I've never encountered this roving street artist.  Watch for him in the future.  He was decent.

It was an old school crowd.  Lots of unshaven playoff beards.  A good omen as they're preparing to announce the dates for the Ottawa-Pens series.  I'd still have rather played the Rangers, but it is what it is.  They have a game 7 tonight against the Caps.  Huzzah.

Speaking of beards... I have unilaterally decreed that this guitar dude (Kim Thayil) shalt be the bearded benchmark by which all beards shalt be judged.

Last night I think I figured out why Soundgarden took a 16+ year hiatus.  Let me say that I think they are the #2 band of the early 90's.  Pearl Jam gets the top ranking of course.  All the others pale in comparison.  Alice in Chains, Chili Peppers, etc???  Gimme a fucking break.  I'd put Jane's Addiction at a close #3.

These guys are brilliant songwriters and musicians.  BUTT... (and that's an outstanding bubble butt from the waitress at the St. Clarisville Steak'n'Shake), I don't think they ever bother rehearsing.  Some of their tunes are a little intricate for never being played.  I think this is why Matt Cameron (drummer) prefers to play with Pearl Jam.  Soundgarden just isn't as cohesive a unit.  I don't think they "care" as much.  It's part of their charm though.  That dark, foreboding, awkward, grungy, super bass heavy, piercing sound.

But what about how the show actually "sounded" ???  I don't known what it was last night.  Several of the songs had this crazy, muffled, "warbling" sound.  It sounded like the concert was recorded on a taped over TDK D90.  Left underneath a passenger car seat in the middle of August.  You clean out the car and discover the tape - it's cleverly marked "Sound-Gardenia Mix."  The damn tape is sticky from a spilled can of Busch Light draft.  Do you see what I'm getting at?  Do you garner my inference?  I think their mixing board guys were tripping their brains out.  Something just wasn't right.  It's a complete shame because this is one of the only shows I was truly looking forward to.  Still, I'm not going to bitch.  They completely rock your brains out.  But like I said, something just wasn't right from a technical standpoint.

As an avid bootleg collector of rock from the early 90's, I was always bitterly disappointed with the lack of quality Soundgarden shows.  I'd kill for a decent boot from the Superunknown tour, but there just ain't any out there.  It's commonly thought that their head sound guy from back in the day... well... to put it delicately... he sucked.  I wonder if it's still the same dude.

Tangent - I knew this one peculiar sound guy named Chuck who worked for a local band that shall remain nameless (Sleeping Giants).  This one night, we're at a Pittsburgh bar after hours and he regales the table with a story of his sexual exploits.  But this was no ordinary Penthouse forum story.  Chuck told of us of this strange proclivity - having sex with fruit.  You see... he would go out and purchase a large melon.  Apparently a ripe honeydew was the ultimate choice.  Then, he would meticulously carve a hole in said melon.  You'd think the story's over... but no, it has just begun.  Next, he would insert handfuls of slightly cooked warm Ramen Noodles.  According to him, this made the texture "just right."  Of course, at that shining moment it's off to the races.  I've heard of people having sex with multiple inanimate objects.  But never fruit.  Makes you second guess the post Jimmy Buffett show-consumption of that vodka infused watermelon.  I call that Parrot-head justice.

Back to the saner topic at hand.  Highlights for me were definitely the opener "Incessant Mace", "Burden in my Hand", and a song I never thought I'd hear live... "4th of July" - made for a killer closer.  They seemed to focus on the newer material which I'm unfamiliar with, but I'll forgive 'em.

  1. Encore:
Although stilted and disjointed, Soundgarden blew everyone away.  Even though the sound "warbled" beyond the boundaries of normalcy, they were easily worth the price of admission... especially since the show was free.  Long concert - kicked in around the 2 hour mark with this bizarre, never-ending bass feedback loop that droned on longer than the war in Afghanistan.

And here it is... Sonofsaf's top rock bands.
In relatively suggestive, but no particular order...

Pearl Jam
Grateful Dead (only 1985-1990)
Led Zeppelin
Pink Floyd
Beatles (& solo McCartney)
Slayer (RIP Jeff Hanneman)
Foo Fighters
Ratt (not kidding)
My Morning Jacket

into the lesser stratosphere with even less restrictive protocol...

Marilyn Manson
The Who
Rolling Stones
Death Angel
Fleetwood Mac
Beastie Boys

honorable mention: Duran Duran, Live, Filter, Nirvana, on it goes...

Remember, it's an all-inclusive list.  Certain stuff appeals to you at different times in your life.  For example, I was a big Duran Duran fan when I was gay.


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Anonymous said...

Your top ten makes me think your a moron! Foo fighters, ratt. Lmfao smh, Dave grohl even nows better.

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