Last Night: Soundgarden and Mastadon at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie

Soundgarden, Mastodon
Verizon Theatre
October 26, 2011

Better than: VH1's I Love The '90s.

2011 has been a pretty big year for grunge music. As this year marks the 20th anniversary of albums like Nirvana's Nevermind, Pearl Jam's Ten, and Soundgarden's Badmotorfinger, there seems to be a bit of a revival currently going on. 

Enough time has passed, it seems, that some of that late '90s grunge backlash has worn off. 

Just enough, in fact, to have things feel nostalgic without feeling too old to be relevant.

When these bands came to prominence in the early '90s, it was with perfect timing to reclaim the purity and dignity of rock 'n' roll from the ostentatious hair metal acts -- and, with Soundgarden's recent reunion and return to touring, the band is once again poised to salvage the genre from the Foster the Peoples of the world. 

The band's stop at Verizon Theatre in Grand Prairie last night saw them in peak form, not missing a step despite their 13-year break from performing; Matt Cameron's drumming is just as thunderous and precise as ever, Chris Cornell's highest wails can still shatter champagne glasses, and Kim Thayil's chops are still razor sharp. 

From the reprinting of Badmotorfinger-era merch to the band's enormous energy and dexterity, one would be hard pressed to tell the difference between the Soundgarden of 2011 and the one from 1997 -- save for having a fancier light rig and the fact that so many people in the pit were in their mid-40s this time around. 

Never did the band give off the dreaded I'm-just-here-for-the-paycheck vibe. Instead they came off more than content in their role as the Gods of Grunge. Last night, it felt like they were saviors of rock 'n' roll as well. There's just something about a horde of people, fists raised, aggressively shouting out the words to "Outshined" over a wall of blistering guitars that makes modern day synth-pop/indie rock feel so puny by comparison. 

Although Cornell intimated at one point that the band's new album will be released in the spring, the band refrained from previewing any new material. 

Still, they managed to play for two hours just on the strength of their most popular old favorites. 

The best part: If Chris' promise to play the new songs next time the band comes back was sincere, it doesn't sound like fans will have to wait another 15 years before Soundgarden comes back to town. 

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
For my money there isn't a better sounding live song that "Jesus Christ Pose" with its chaotic and brutal drums and unrelenting guitars. Chris Cornell's solo touring bands always did a phenomenal job with it, but Soundgarden's version is other-worldly good. 

Random Note: While Cornell was waiting on Thayil to tune before "Rusty Cage" he started playing the riff from Johnny Cash's cover of the song. 

Random (Local) Celeb Sighting: I've seen Chris Cornell four times now and somehow every single time I've ended up standing/sitting near Taz Bentley. I guess the dude's a pretty big Cornell fan. 

Soundgarden Setlist:
Searching With My Good Eye Closed
Jesus Christ Pose
Blow Up The Outside World
The Day I Tried To Live
My Wave
Burden In My Hand
Ugly Truth
Fell On Black Days
Hunted Down
Drawing Flies
Black Hole Sun
Rusty Cage
Head Down
Pretty Noose
4th Of July

Room a Thousand Years Wide
Beyond the Wheel
Slaves and Bulldozers 

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