When Soundgarden announced they would be reuniting and going on a North American tour, a legion of die-hard fans and casual listeners came out of the woodwork. People were excited to relive the ’90s and rock their faces off with one of the most versatile and prolific bands to come out of the grunge era. But as stoked as people were to be singing “Black Hole Sun” along with Chris Cornell and jam out with Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd, there was a bit of skepticism floating about. After all, a lot of bands reunite after a decade, only to fall a little short of fans expectations.
Luckily, for the nearly sold out crowd at Vancouver’s Rogers Arena, this was not the case. But first came the openers: Queens of the Stone Age and The Meat Puppets.
The Meat Puppets were reliably fun, though due to an early start they played to a half-empty crowd. The people who were there to catch the show though were treated to hits like “Plateau” and “Lake of Fire” (both made famous by Nirvana, who were greatly inspired by the band). It was a rather laid-back intro into the night of music, easing fans into the set.
The ease and casual vibe continued as soon as Queens of the Stone Age hit the stage. This is one of the few bands that manages to make stoner rock sound positively boisterous. The set was unfortunately short, but the audience was treated to a range of the So-Cal band’s hits: “Make it Wit Chu”, “No One Knows” and “Sick, Sick, Sick.” Frontman Josh Homme kept the crowd on their toes, telling one lucky girl that he loved her in between swigs of his vodka bottle, while the rest of the band worked as one tight, rollicking unit. Stand-outs included the psychedelic “Better Living Through Chemistry,” the catchy “First it Giveth” and closer “A Song for the Dead,” which pummeled the audience with Joey Castillo’s relentless drumming and the grinding guitar work of Homme and Troy Van Leeuwen. It left people breathless and won over a whole slew of new fans.
There was barely any time for people to lower their heart rates and get a beer before Soundgarden came on. Looking around at the crowd from my vantage point in the photo pit, you can could read the anticipation in their faces. This was the first time the band had played in Vancouver in 14 years and nobody knew what to expect. They were just excited to be there.
Then it was go time. The lights lowered. The crowd cheered. And out came Chris Cornell and his guitar, his hands raised in the air, a huge smile on his face. From that entrance alone, which just brimmed with sincerity, everyone knew they were in for one hell of a night. The band reveled in the applause that filled the arena and plowed into the dreamy, slow start of “Searching With My Good Eye Closed.” And from those first notes, any skepticism was quickly erased. I’m not sure how, but Cornell sounded better than he did back in the 90’s. His voice was stupendous; clear in its direction, powerful in its delivery and that piercing wail that just seemed limitless. “The Day I Tried to Live,” “Outshined,” “Loud Love.” These songs couldn’t have sounded better. The fans agreed, as almost every single person was playing air guitar and singing dramatically into pretend microphones. To me, the joyous comradery among fans was just as memorable as the band’s flawless performance.
Near the set’s end, Cornell told the crowd that they would be back again soon and that a new album was in the works. This meant this wasn’t just a quick reunion tour for money, this was a new phase for the band, one that would hopefully last for a very long time. With the way Thayill intricately played, often with a small smirk on his face, to Shepherd’s steady bass pounding, to Cameron’s powerful hits, it was the best news a Soundgarden fan could hope for. The Seattle boys are back and better than ever.
Searching With My Good Eye Closed
Jesus Christ Pose
Blow Up the Outside World
The Day I Tried to Live
Burden in My Hand
Fell on Black Days
Black Hole Sun
4th of July
Beyond the Wheel
Slaves & Bulldozers
Queens of the Stone Age Setlist
You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, but I Feel Like a Millionaire Play Video
3’s & 7’s
Sick, Sick, Sick
First It Giveth
Better Living Through Chemistry
Burn the Witch
Make It Wit Chu
Go With the Flow
No One Knows
A Song for the Dead