No opener. Just Soundgarden for two and a half hours. All aspects of their career were covered. The hits were played, of course: Spoonman, Fell On Black Days, Burden In My Hand, etc., as well as a handful of songs off of King Animal. But a shit-ton of deep cuts and lesser played songs were aired, and this was the payoff. Fourth of July AND Mailman? Yes, please, and thank you. Head Down, Drawing Flies, Hunted Down, Ugly Truth… hell, I could go on and on and on. Just when you thought they had exhausted everything they would launch into another one of their classics and you’d be like “Oh yeah, I forgot about this song. It rules!”. This set was really a tale of two bands; on the one hand you had the hit making machine, cranking out songs tailor made for radio and singing along to. On the other hand you had the totally out-there artrock version of Soundgarden, who would veer off into a blissed out shoegazey section during Ugly Truth for a few minutes, abandoning the song altogether. Or just play one of their mindfucks like Head Down.
Chris Cornell’s voice was in top form, and it only got stronger as the set went on. He nailed all the high notes in Loud Love and Ugly Truth from his barechested banshee days with ease. He joked around with the audience a little bit, receiving a bouquet of flowers from a gentleman caller and making a crack about it. Ben Shepherd laid down his bass lines like he fucking meant it, and I’m pretty sure he did. Kim Thayil just played the living shit out of his guitar. During the encore version of Incessant Mace, with Cornell putting his guitar aside and just singing, Thayil was allowed to solo untethered, and the band came as close to prime Led Zeppelin as any band is going to nowadays. And last but not least, I need to give a shout out to the secret weapon, Matt Cameron. Rock solid the entire time, unwavering during all of the odd time signatures and weird changes, he is the unsung hero of this band, the driving engine of Soundgarden that propels it onward.
The encore consisted of the aforementioned amazing version of Incessant Mace, a supercharged Rusty Cage, the Beatles-on-downers anthem Black Hole Sun and finally a heaving and writhing Slaves & Bulldozers, which dissolved into Cornell and Thayil making an impressive racket with their axes for a few minutes, until Cornell walked off and left Thayil alone with his guitar cranked, coaxing sounds out of it that would’ve made Thurston Moore green with envy. And then that was it. Kim walked across the stage, waving to the audience as his guitar fedback into the ether, and it was over. Two and a half hours. An epic set by any measure. Thank you.