Tag Archives: Down on the Upside

Down on the Upside

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This was released when grunge was losing its popularity, but this “commercial disappointment” still went platinum several times over. Although this album is cleaner and less heavy on the whole than previous efforts, lyrics such as “only happy when you hurt” (from the standout album track “Rhinosaur”) show that the band hasn’t softened up too much. In fact, songs such as the lead single “Pretty Noose,” with it’s swirling guitar lines and monster drum fills, are as intense as anything the band has ever done.

Elsewhere, Zeppelin-esque highlights both minor (“Zero Chance,” “Dusty”) and major (“Burden In My Hand,” the album’s signature song and arguably the band’s best song ever) are heavily reliant on Eastern tinged atmospherics, while “Blow Up The Outside World” starts with a mellow, trippy Beatles-esque melody before exploding into the splendor of its huge chorus. Actually, the first half of the album is mostly excellent, presenting a more accessible Soundgarden that still rocked plenty hard. On the whole, the album doesn’t quite have the diversity of Superunknown, however, and it has much more filler, as the second half gets bogged down by too many unmemorable tracks. I wouldn’t miss “Never Named,” “No Attention,” or “An Unkind,” the albums punkiest songs along with the first side’s far superior “Ty Cobb,”, and though the playing on “Never The Machine Forever” is impressive, the songwriting is only so-so, while “Applebite” is a simple yet strangely alluring (mostly) instrumental that probably could’ve been cut in half. Better is more melodic fare such as “Switch Opens” and “Boot Camp,” while successful multi-sectioned epics such as “Tighter & Tighter” and “Overfloater” also attest to the band’s undiminished ambition and ability. On the downside, this mellower, less edgy album under utilizes their greatest asset by not unleashing Cornell more, but there’s still enough first rate stuff here that had the band left the lesser songs on the cutting room floor, they could’ve had another classic on their hands. As it is, this turned out to be merely a very good goodbye, as Soundgarden broke up soon after this albums release.

Having emerged from the first wave of grunge to stand tall amid other great Seattle heavyweights such as Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Alice In Chains, I am lucky to say that I’ve seen Soundgarden live twice  (Lollapalozza 2010 and Vegas 2011), and hope to see them more when the release their long awaited 7th studio album in Oct. 2012.

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Soundgarden

August 8th, 2010 – Lollapalooza at Chicago, IL

Rumors of the demise on Chris’ vocals were greatly exaggerated. Chris does sound different. His voice when singing came across a little more horse and raspy. He can not hit all the high notes and hold them as long. But he still sounds good. And the band sounded great. Hard to believe this was only their third show this year. ‘Jesus Christ Pose’ is my favorite Soundgarden song so glad that was in the setlist. One thing I like to see is a band that can “finish with a bang.” Slaves & Bulldozers was one the best single song live performances I have ever seen. Went on for about 10 minutes. At the end, Cornell and Shepard were waving their guitar in front of and across the amplifiers much like Nirvana and Sonic Youth would do. At the same time, Kim was briefly playing his guitar with his tongue! Mind blowing.


During Outshined, Chris Cornell got off the stage and ran towards the crowd. Only after running down the fenced off area toward the soundbooth and lighting, Chris went out in to the crowd and kept singing. He came within 10 yards of me but I did not get close enough to him. 😦


The opener for the Thursday show (Aug 5th, 2010) in Chicago was Minus the Bear. Old school Seattle and new school Seattle. How cool is that? Best show of the year 2010 for me, without a shadow of the doubt.

Setlist:

Searching with my Good Eye closed
Spoonman
Gun
Rusty Cage
Blow up the Outside World
Let Me Drown
Flower
Outshined
Jesus Christ Pose
Fell on Black Days
Ugly Truth
Get on the Snake
Burden in my Hand
Superunknown
Black Hole Sun
Mailman
4th of July
Face Pollution
Like Suicide
Slaves & Bulldozers