Soundgarden at The Woodlands, 8/16/2014
Although Soundgarden somehow managed to disappear from the hard-bitten rock landscape for more than 13 years, their fan base never went anywhere. Buoyed by continuous rock-radio airplay of their mid-'90s hits, the cult continued to grow in the band's absence, and large crowds are still more than happy to plunk down a decent chunk of change to hear Chris Cornell belt out "Fell On Black Days" again. And if he took his shirt off, that'd be just fine, too.
While the dark and lean Cornell remains physically ageless, the rest of Soundgarden are unashamedly showing their age these days. Kim Thayil and Ben Shepherd are not the kind of rock stars who get facelifts and hair treatments. Thayil might've been sporting quite a few white whiskers up there, but his guitar sounded as freaky as ever as the curtain dropped and he cranked up the wah pedal on the thunderous opener, "Searching With My Good Eye Closed."
It was the beginning to a confident and low-key performance opening for Nine Inch Nails in the Woodlands. Soundgarden's place in rock and roll history is long since secure, and they've got a large and loyal fan base still eager to turn out and hear the hits. With Trent Reznor's A/V spectacular anchoring the bill, all Soundgarden has to do is show up and play, and that's pretty much exactly what they did on Saturday night,
Never much given to smoke machines or pyrotechnics, the band simply chugged through a set well-stocked with the essentials. Though snippets were thrown in from Louder Than Love and King Animal, the bulk of Soundgarden's set came from their best two albums. "Spoonman" and "Black Hole Sun" from Superunknown, which turned 20 years old in March, drew huge cheers. But the good stuff from its predecessor, Badmotorfinger, had the most snap on Saturday.
Though he kept his relaxed banter to a minimum, singer Chris Cornell couldn't help but mention that Texas always put him in a Badmotorfinger sort of mood. After nailing the ear-shattering high notes in "Rusty Cage," he was able to elucidate why.
"If Tony Iommi and Billy Gibbons got together and had an ass-baby, I think that's the kind of song it would write," Cornell said. "Fortunately, that didn't happen."
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