Review: Soundgarden at Red Rocks, 7/18/11

Categories: Last Night

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Aaron Thackeray
Soundgarden last night at Red Rocks with the Mars Volta
SOUNDGARDEN at RED ROCKS | 07/18/11
With turrets of light bathing the stage in purple, the opening strains of "Searching With My Good Eye Closed" set the stage perfectly for the entrance of Soundgarden. It certainly felt like these guys believed in their music again, and as one of the band's best (and signature) songs came to a close, bassist Ben Shepherd held his instrument aloft while still laying down the deep grooves that are an often-overlooked element of the band's music.

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Aaron Thackeray
Chris Cornell's "Jesus Christ Pose."

Chris Cornell regularly engaged the audience with gracious and intentionally silly banter, including one part of the show where he got the crowd to scream so that he could hear the sound amplifying off the walls to the stage, commenting that it was trippy. "Jesus Christ Pose" seemed even more harrowing and scary-sounding than the original -- which seemed almost like a noise rock track on Badmotorfinger.

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Aaron Thackeray
Kim Thayil of Soundgarden

Thayil's guitar throughout seemed to have the ability to sear through in the upper registers while simultaneously ripping through the low end. Pretty much every song most fans of Soundgarden ever wanted to hear found a place in the 23-song set. And as the show went on, it seemed as though the guys were feeding off the energy of a crowd, who was very much into the show and seemed to know the words to every song, so much so that Cornell often held his mike to the audience during choruses.

Before performing "Big Dumb Sex," Cornell said the band had written to song to "make fun of the some of the same people who ended up liking it." Hilarious and true. Cameron's drum intro on "Rusty Cage" was so ferocious and heavy, it was almost hard to believe we were getting to see something like that -- and even more so when the whole band joined in. "Nothing To Say" was as impressively heavy as ever, and Soundgarden didn't skimp on the early material as the main set ended with the noisy and distorted "Beyond the Wheel."

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Aaron Thackeray

Kicking off its encore with "Hunted Down," another early track, the band seemed to be very in-the-moment through to the end of its closing number, a frenzied and warped rendition of "Slaves and Bulldozers," which made the studio version seem tame by comparison with Thayil and Shepherd making a razory cacophony and drone to end the show with an incandescent sonic glow. Hopefully these guys realize this show felt like something special.

Click through for review of the Mars Volta, setlist and Critic's Notebook.

Location Info

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Red Rocks Amphitheatre

18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison, CO

Category: General

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27 comments
Remy Sega
Remy Sega

Possibly the best show I've seen at Red Rocks.  Every song felt worthy of being the last song I ever hear.

Jerry
Jerry

Im going to start off by saying Im a TMV through and through, they were the only reason I bought the ticket. Soundgarden to me was just a bonus. But at 45 min The Mars Volta is only getting warmed up, and its hard playing to a crowd of people that have no idea the genius they are listening to so they just sit there lifeless. Soundgardens set sounded terrible like it was going through a giant phaser the whole time, It wasnt the wind. They still have rookie playing skills and need to up the ante. Shoulda stayed in the grunge era...

Cindy
Cindy

I really liked to two keyboard girls - they killed it!

Seejohnedrum
Seejohnedrum

I really liked the show and a big fan but, I've never heard so many effects on a hard Rock Vocal.  Chris would hit all his notes but only for a moment then let the effects do the rest.  The band? Amazing.  Matt on drums,  Wow.  Red rocks, Duh.  I was up close so I could see it.  I also sensed some tension.  Did anyone up close think chris was drunk or Matt was not amused with his band mate?

I do think it's funny when folks try to say Soundgarden has Punk roots like Nirvana or Pearl Jam. Even you pros do it.  Not!  These guys were into Metal and Prog when they figured it out.

MusicElitist
MusicElitist

Im just upset I missed Mars Volta...Sound Garden was cool when I was in the 9th grade

SxPxDxCx
SxPxDxCx

I thought the show was really good.  It was great to hear those songs live again after 15 years.

I was pretty close and I though the sound was decent but not great.  I think a lot of the on stage mics could have used some wind screens.  At one point Chris ask "was that thunder"  No Chris that was the wind blowing. 

DeNov
DeNov

The show was entertaining, but the "SG better than ever" cries are a bit hyperbolic. Cornell's voice was strong but not what it once was and the ever-present echo-chorus effect on his mic only highlighted that. While the band was locked in tight at times ("Spoonman," "Slaves and Bulldozers,") there were other times where it was 3 separate musicians, unaware of the others, all held together by Matt Cameron. The wind and front-of-house sound didn't do them any favors, either. Kim Thayill was often buried in the mix under Cornell's guitar. I'm not asking for my money back with a flaming pitchfork, but I'm also not clamoring to pack up the RV and devote my summer to them.

Rbv2345
Rbv2345

Soundgarden should have opened for The Mars Volta. Volta was on fire yesterday at Red Rocks playing almost an entire set of unreleased music takes balls and they completely delivered. The half Rapid Fire Tollbooth rendition of Goliath that they ended the show with felt like some sort of psychedelic gospel praise revival and it melted my face off.  Soundgarden was  ok they just aren't on the same progressive artistic level as The Mars Volta and should be very grateful a band  of  that caliber would open for them cutting their normal 1 and half to 3 hour sets to 45 minutes

Mfarrimond
Mfarrimond

Amazing show, beginning to end. They played like they had something to prove, and I bought in 100%. Who can rock like that? Few, if any.

Niccoletta
Niccoletta

Are you kidding?  The sound was MESSED UP, certain speakers kept coming off and on or something, plus Chris was really not able to pull off most of the vocal strength those songs are known for.  The set list was pretty good, but it sounded like crap (at least from where we were standing).  I'm from Seattle and have seen them multiple times and trust me, they were not playing their hearts out.

Lynn C
Lynn C

You're crazy-Cornell rocked-complaining about those screeching ass vocals-what can you do as well now as you could 25 years ago-obviously not judge sound....or effort....were you the drugged out chick that got booted to upper General Admission-ok then I can understand your impaired judgement..

Niccoletta
Niccoletta

Oh Lynn, settle down.  I was hoping to discuss the show, but forgot how bitchy and ignorant people can be online.  Why so hostile just because you don't agree, is Chris lying next to you crying about my comment?  Post as many catty comments as you want, I'll not be back! 

David
David

Typical Seattle elitism. Chris's voice sounded amazing!

Niccoletta
Niccoletta

Did I say I was an expert?  I don't have a PHD in Soundgarden if that's what you're looking for.  As I said, it sounded like crap from where we were standing.  It wasn't windy until the very end, which was why it seemed so weird that the sound was bad.  His voice has changed and isn't as strong as it used to be.  I'm not a fricking elitist, I just have a few prior experiences to compare this show to, plus this was one of my most favorite bands growing up.  Jeez.

Paul
Paul

Seejohn, I've seen a lot of shows at red rocks and there can be atmospheric issues in the upper third but what's been happening of late isnt the same.  I have been in the lower 3rd of the amphitheater and in the middle on calm nights and the sound sucks frankly.  They either have speaker issues or its all in the mixing.  Just my opinion

Seejohnedrum
Seejohnedrum

You found the secret of Redrocks.  When the wind kicks in like the second half of the show last night, the sound in the back half gets sketchy.  Been that way forever.  

Hitman
Hitman

I also had seen them 3 other times in the early 90s. They've always been sloppy live. Who gives a shit.

HItman
HItman

 Ya know, the f'n point of last night was to be able to see one of the greatest bands ever in my opinion come back and kick some ass. I was there in 96 when they played Red Rocks and I was there last night when they returned. Last night was waaaay better than in 96. I was 3rd row and it was loud as hell and the power was amazing. Did Chris hit all the notes? No, who the hell could 15 and 20 years later than originally recorded? Did Matt hit every stroke? Of course not, I'm a drummer who knows how to play most of the songs and know when he's not in the pocket or messes up and smiles. I would have loved to have been in Seattle in the late 80s and early 90s to hear them at their best and I can appreciate that Niccoletta was, but ya know what,they were loud, grungy and sloppy and exactly how I wanted them to be! AND THEY"RE BACK!

Paul
Paul

The sound was not good last night nor has it been at the last few shows I've seen at Red Rocks. The speakers fade in and out, sometimes very abruptly. I think someone from RR sound team needs to spend some time in the seats and listen. I've been seated in row 39 and 40 recently and had the same experience. My last RR show until they fix the problem.

David
David

Oh I was just playing, no worries. I have some friends from Seattle and I always give them shit for being elitist snobs... Long story. But my basis for saying his voice was spot on was based on how he sang "Pretty Noose" at the the end of the set. That song is frickin' high, and he absolutely slayed it. It was pretty damn impressive, and his voice sounded spot-on, in tune and devastatingly powerful throughout the whole night.

SG
SG

You still don't get it.

Betheball
Betheball

It's pretty funny that whenever someone says they're from Seattle people interpret that as bragging.  If you said you were from Chapel Hill and had seen Archers of Loaf a bunch of times and therefore have a basis for your opinion about how they played, would everyone attack you for being "elitist"?

SG
SG

Sweet. I didn't know that being from Seattle made one an expert on Soundgarden. I'm from Colorado, and I'm guessing that you've never been to Red Rocks and were stuck sitting at the top where the wind messes up the sound... sit closer next time.

Oscar
Oscar

Great fucking show!

SG
SG

Setlist missed Ugly Truth

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