Thursday, 11 August 2011

Review - Soundgarden (San Francisco, CA)

Soundgarden w/ The Mars Volta
Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
San Francisco, CA
Thursday, July 21, 2011

As a casual fan of Soundgarden I managed to check them out at Lollapalooza 2010 and enjoyed myself. However, in that setting I suspect there were more casual fans attending rather than the dedicated ones that made it out on this night.

Right from the get-go the crowd was into this set and it was apparent, especially with front man Chris Cornell who looked to be having more fun than their reunion gigs last summer. I would certainly suggest checking out the band, but their pricetag might turn off some people (thankfully, I blindly bought it and tacked it onto my personal vacation fund...).

Plain and simple, these guys play straight-up rock which may get repetitive but that is exactly what their audience wants. Upon plowing through a diverse set of old and very old tracks, the band made San Fran feel special on this night by breaking out the track Drawing Flies which was the first time the track has appeared on their setlist since their reunion last spring.

Be warned: Soundgarden is an extremely LOUD band, plan accordingly. Long after set-closer Slaves & Bulldozers concluded, the ringing could still be heard outside of the venue and even while walking on McAllister Street. I knew this coming in (based on Lolla) but thought it may have been a cumulative effort on behalf of each band I saw that weekend. Really though, it was Soundgarden.

Opening for them was The Mars Volta, a band from El Paso, Texas who I had always been told to get into but never gave them the proper listen. After this show I have made a slightly stronger effort to but despite that I can fully endorse their live show (I honestly have just not had time to check them out in the last few weeks). Playing tracks primarily from their untitled upcoming album, the band ripped through a 7-track set in explosive fashion while doing their best to ensure the headliner had a tough act to follow. Lead singer Cedric Bixler-Zavala managed to break the ice with a Full House reference (in San Fran afterall) while splicing in The Facts of Life during the rest of the set; this lightheartedness mixed with some solid music full of very natural-feeling jams made for quite an opening set that Soundgarden would have to work extra hard to top.

Great night of live music in a really cool venue. The Bill Graham Civic Auditorium has a very large vibe to it, but allows the audience to obtain clear sight lines and feel close to the action. Picture an oversized high school gymnasium with a second level of seats, in addition to a very wide floor.

Setlist (Soundgarden):
Searching With My Good Eye Closed
Room a Thousand Years Wide
Jesus Christ Pose
Blow Up the Outside World
The Day I Tried to Live
My Wave
Ugly Truth
Fell on Black Days
Loud Love
Drawing Flies
Nothing to Say
Rusty Cage
Black Hole Sun
Black Rain
Burden in My Hand
Head Down
4th of July

Beyond the Wheel
Pretty Noose
Like Suicide
Slaves & Bulldozers

Album Breakdown:
Superunknown: 9
Badmotorfinger: 7
Down on the Upside: 3
Louder Than Love: 2
Screaming Life/Fopp: 1
Telephantasm: 1
Ultramega OK: 1

Setlist (The Mars Volta):
The Whip Hand
The Malkin Jewel
Broken English Jam

Album Breakdown:
Untitled New Album: 5
The Bedlam in Goliath: 1
Cover: 1
Amputechture: 0
Frances the Mute: 0
Octahedron: 0
Scab Dates: 0

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