Soundgarden | The Wiltern | 2/16/13

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I was a freshman in high school when “grunge” was trending. I’ll be honest with you … I was more of a Pearl Jam fan, and often pledged allegiance to Pearl Jam over Soundgarden, but over the years I’ve realized that that was just plain stupid. Stupid, unfounded childhood preferences. To think of all the amazing music I would have missed out on if I still thought so close minded today.

Plain and simply, Soundgarden’s music kicks ass. This concert is supporting their current album  “King Animal”. I wrote my review on the album here. They’ve been on an 18 year hiatus. Who knows whether their reunion was more for the money than for the music, but I could give two shits about that. Their music still kicks ass; their older songs holding fast against the sands of time- I think Morrissey would agree…..

I saw this concert tour as a musical blessing that couldn’t be passed up. I remember waking up early to get online  for the ticket pre-sale (and those who know me, know that I HATE paying the ticketing service fees).  I remember clicking the refresh button at least 50 times to finally get through to purchasing my tickets. That ticket confirmation email was like digital nirvana (no grunge pun intended). I mean there were some that thought that Soundgarden would never perform together again. After all, the band disbanded after their release of “Down on the Upside” on very acrimonious terms, most stemming from creative differences.

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The concert was everything Soundgarden fan could hope for. They played a solid set-list, powering through over 2 hours of material, covering their entire catalogue. Now, if you were a “new” Soundgarden fan, you were probably expecting a bit more “excitement” from the set.  The Wiltern had a “No Moshing, Stage Diving” policy, so that may have put a little damper on things.   And while Chris Cornell has an amazing rock-and-roll voice, his stage presence is a little, to put it bluntly, boring. It also could have helped if it wasn’t so sweltering in the venue. But while the stage performance may have been a little lacking, their music makes up for it.

IMG_0105The acoustics in the Wiltern were adequate. My friends found some space stage right about 2/3 the way in from the rear. I spent parts of the show roaming the venue, and thought that the acoustics were better in towards the rear of the venue. I also thought that the bass was a little too overpowering at times, but that could have very well been a result of my cheap ear-plugs. I thought that on the louder songs of the set, Chris voice got drowned out at times.  The drumming, in my humble opinion, was excellent. Matt Cameron smashed it, and was perhaps the most lively up on stage.  Not the most perfect concert levels, but bearable.

A friend of mine noted that towards the end of the show, before the encore, Ben Shepherd- the bassist- appeared to be pissed about something, throwing his bass off-stage, stage left. I can’t speculate as to why it was done, but it was something to note… new inter-band turmoil arising?… or just band levels?…

A little personal side story to the show:  I am a self-professed music dweeb.  I’m big into music memorabilia.  I bring a poster tube with me to shows.  If that isn’t too dweeby for you … LOL.  I was waiting in line for merchandise, when the guy right in front of me got an autographed copy of the poster.  I asked the sales people what was up with the signed poster, and they said that Soundgarden signed a handful of the posters and they were randomly inserted into the pile.  I offered some extra cash on the side if they could sift through the stack for another signed poster, and after flipping through the top 10 copies, they said they couldn’t go through the whole pile (apparently there were 150 posters printed for the event.  I still bought a poster, but I told them that I would keep swinging by to check in.

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The concert poster… unsigned.

I hit up the merchandise booth several other times throughout the evening, and the last time I showed up they said that there were no more signed copies of the poster.  I was bummed, but figured that that was life.  As I was about to head back inside to the show, the guy I had been bugging throughout the night just happened to add, “Well, there is 1 signed vinyl left…”

WHAT!?!?!  Of course I’d buy that!  In fact, it was the perfect night cap to the evening.  After all, my deluxe vinyl is still in its shrink wrap.  I tipped the guy $10 for hook up on the souvenir.

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The Jackpot!

If you want to check out some other music treasure that I’ve collected through the years, click through this link.

I ended up hitting up a bar where a buddy of mind hosts and DJs karaoke after the show. I showed him my treasure from the evening, and recounted some of the highlights- and not, I didn’t sing “Outshined” even though I had bothered my friends with a rendition of it all day. I called my cabbie (in LA, it’s a must to have the number of a cab that can pick you up without waiting) and we spoke about the show.  I told him it was “great”, but what I really wanted to say was that it was “good”.  I don’t want to diminish the concert in any way, after all the simple fact that they are performing again is, in its own right, amazing, but I still wanted more.

Below is the setlist.  I’ve inserted a couple video snippets of “Outshined” and “The Day I Tried To Live” (a couple of my favorite songs).  The Saturday setlist was the short setlist of the three day stint at The Wiltern.

1. Nothing to Say

2. Flower

3. Outshined 

4. Gun

5. Jesus Christ Pose

6. By Crooked Steps

7. Room a Thousand Years Wide

8. Attrition

9. The Day I Tried to Live 

10. Been Away Too Long

11. Worse Dreams

12. Get on the Snake

13. Ugly Truth

14. Non-State Actor

15. Ty Cobb

16. Drawing Flies

17. Blow Up the Outside World

18. Fell on Black Days

19. Eyelid’s Mouth

20. Loud Love

21. Rowing

Encore:

22. Searching With My Good Eye Closed

23. Rusty Cage

24. Beyond the Wheel

Note: Blind Dogs and New Damage were on the Encore set but cut for time

A Year of Concerts: 2012, 24 Concerts, 1 Favorite

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In 2012, I was blessed to have been able to attend 24 concerts.  This being the inaugural post of my blog, I thought it may be a good way to kick things off if I listed each of the concerts in the order that I enjoyed them (starting with the least favorite, and ending with my favorite), with a line or two of my thoughts.

24. Shuggie Otis– The Echoplex- Wed Dec 5

It’s hard to see an artist that you acknowledge as Los Angeles musical royalty without his gift.  By all accounts, a sad musical revelation for me.

23. The 10th Annual Korea Times Music Festival– Hollywood Bowl- Sat April 28

While I can appreciate the musicality of some of the K-Pop act thats performed throughout the evening, I’m assuming I didn’t truly appreciate it like the others because I just didn’t understand enough.  I’m a bad Korean-American.

22. Moby– The Annenberg Space for Photography- Sat Jul 14

Moby did two sets:  Live Folk and DJ.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t that impressed with either.  While I can appreciate his musical venture, I kind of want to hear the older hits that I grew up with.

21. Boyce Avenue– Club Nokia at LA Live- Sat Dec 08

By buddy proposed to his girl, on stage at this show.  He picked the perfect show.  Chicks dig Boyce Avenue.

20. Starting 6– Vanguard- Fri Aug 10

Hot, sweaty, party hip-hop.  These guys can rock a joint

19. Orange Tulip Conspiracy– Mr. T’s Bowl- Fri Sep 21

The musicality of this Jazz group is amazing. A must for any jazz aficionado. I hear they are recording a new album, and I can’t wait to her the new material.

18. The Airplane Boys– Roxy Theater- Wed Aug 15

Other level hip-hop.  I also saw them at Coachella.  They killed it at the Roxy like they killed it in the desert.

17. Bizarre Ride Fest– Bizarre Ride Live (Fatlip, Slimkid3, J. Swift, etc.)- The Roxy Theater- Sat Dec 29

The Pharcyde’s debut album “Bizzare Ride II The Pharcyde”, to quote my buddy David [@davidshein on twitter] is “just one of the best hip hop albums ever”.  I won’t disagree.  Even when it’s performed by only half of the original group, the music still holds up.

16. The Heavy– El Rey Theatre- Fri Sep 07

In support of the their most recent release, The Glorious Dead, I jammed out at this concert.  Their front man, Kevin Swaby, was born to perform.

15. Jason Mraz and Christina Perri– Tour Is A Four Letter Word- Hollywood Bowl- Fri Oct 05

I enjoyed Jason Mraz at the Hollywood Bowl, but I’ve seen him at The Wiltern (full band) and The Walt Disney Concert Hall (acoustic), and his music is better suited for more intimate venues.

14. Animal Collective, Flying Lotus and Huun Huur Tu– Hollywood Bowl- Sun Sept 23

Animal Collective delivered.  Huun Huur Tu entertained.  Flying Lotus blew my mind.

13. Raphael Saadiq and Band of Skulls– The Annenberg Space for Photography- Sat Aug 04

Such and odd concert pairing, but they both were amazing.  KCRW kicks ass.

12. Girl In A Coma, Pinata Protest and Sara Radle– The Echoplex- Fri Apr 27

Girl In A Coma is one of my favorite “new” bands.  These girls kick ass.  I wanted to see them again this year when they were opening for Grizzly Bear, but I couldn’t fit it into my schedule.  The lead singer, Nina Diaz, has a voice to die for.

11. Playboy Jazz Festival– Hollywood Bowl- Sun Jun 17

Ramsey Lewis is a musical savant.  I always pay money to watch genius perform.  Robin Thicke were Preservation Hall Jazz Band were good.  Was a slightly unimpressed with Spectrum Road.

10. Eric Hutchinson– Troubadour- Sat May 19

He was the first artist I truly “represented” back at my first job after passing the bar exam.  I couldn’t  be prouder of how far he’s come.

9. Allen Stone– The Fonda Theatre- Fri Oct 19

If this guys plays his card right, he could playing the Hollywood Bowl in a few years.  The first thought I had after the show ended?  “I’ll be able to tell my kids (when I have them), that I stood front row at an Allen Stone concert at The Fonda”.

8. Ben Harper– Vieux Farka Tour- Hollywood Bowl- Sun Jul 01

When Ben Harper sang a cappella, without a mic, at the front of the Hollywood Bowl stage, he earned by respect. He also played the one song I needed to hear, “Burn One Down”.  Can’t ask for more.

7. Hot Chip, Passion Pit and Omar Souleyman– Hollywood Bowl- Sun Sep 9

I went to the show to see Passion Pit. They met and exceeded expectations.  I was expecting more from Hot Chip.  I didn’t get to see Omar Souleyman.

6. Meshell Ndegeocello and James “Blood” Ulmer– Royce Hall- Fri Dec 7

Meshell Ngedeocello performed her interpretations of Nina Simone classics.  Mesmerizing.

5. Peter Gabriel– Back To Front- Hollywood Bowl- Sat Oct 6

I’m not going to lie.  I had a moment.  Flashing back to my younger years when he played “In Your Eyes”, mine started to water.  The power of music.

4. Fiona Apple– The Greek Theatre- Fri Sep 14

She may have been a bit too gaunt for my personal liking, but she can still sing.  A poetess with a voice.  There isn’t that many like her out there in the world.

3. Mint Condition– Club Nokia at LA Live- Sat Jan 28

Mint Condition has always been underrated.  In my humble opinion? They’re one of the best live, R&B bands out there, period.  Stokley’s voice is perfect for R&B.  I grew up with their music.  They are one of my favorite bands.

2. No Doubt– Gibson Amphitheatre- Fri Nov 30

I’ve always kicked my self in the rear when it comes to No Doubt.  They used to perform locally when I was growing out, but I never went to a show.  I can now cross this off my concert bucket-list.  Oh, by the way, I’m in love with Gwen…

1. The Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival– Empire Polo Club- Fri Apr 13 through Sun Apr 15

Dr. Dre & Snoop.  Radiohead.  The Black Keys. Bon Iver. Swedish House Mafia.  At The Drive-In.  Florence and the Machine.  Girl Talk.  The Shins.  Mazzy Star.    Andrew Bird.  Need I go on?

I’ve written about most of the shows on my Facebook page, so if you want to know a little more about particulars, free to shoot me a tweet [@methodman13] and I’ll send over some other thoughts.

I hope your 2013 is filled with musical discovery, and that a song stirs your heart always.