In late February of this year, Soundgarden announced a spring tour that was going to hit a ton of music festivals but also some one off headlining shows. In between playing Carolina Rebellion on Friday, and Beale Street Festival on Sunday, the boys made a stop in Tuscaloosa, AL for great evening of rock music.
I don’t think the almost full amphitheater was ready for the metalcore sound of opening band, Dillinger Escape Plan. These guys are known for being one of the most intense and aggressive live acts around, and they did not disappoint. There were a few fans of theirs at the barricade during their set, because lead singer Greg Puciato jumped down a couple times and let them scream along to the songs they were playing. Hopefully the 30 minute set from Dillinger made a lasting impression on most of the crowd, since they are calling quits at the end of this year.
After a 30 minute set change, it was finally time for Soundgarden to give the people of Alabama a show that most had been waiting on for over 20 years. The lights went dim around 9:15, and Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepard came out to the screams of the crowd and took us back to the late 80’s, for some early Soundgarden jams. They kicked off the show with “Incessant Mace” from their debut album, Ultramega OK. Cornell addressed the crowd after the first song, saying that the amphitheater was a really cool place. He thought that there were drones flying around at the back of the amphitheate,r but then realized it was a road and it was just cars driving by.
After a couple more songs from their first records, they started playing the intro to “Searching With My Good Eye Closed”, and instead of playing that song, they went into “Spoonman”. The next 5 songs in the set were a mixture of songs from their albums Superunknown, and Badmotorfinger. Soundgarden broke up in 1997, after releasing 3 huge records. They got back to touring in 2010, and released an album of new material in 2012 called King Animal. They played the first of two new songs around the 45 minute mark of the set. “Been Away Too Long” was first, and that was followed up by “A Thousand Days Before”. In between these 2 songs, Cornell addressed the crowd again. “I don’t think we have ever played Tuscaloosa before. We’ll definitely play here again. It won’t be in a month or anything but we’ll be back again.”
Before taking their break at 1:20 in the set, they plowed through “Drawing Flies”, “Fell On Black Days” and “Jesus Christ Pose”. They took a short break, and came back out to finish the show with an encore of “Blow Up The Outside World” and “Slaves & Bulldozers”.
Soundgarden has been a band for over 30 years, and they still sound great live. Cornell has one of the most unique voices in rock n’ roll, and it still sounds awesome after 30 years. I would have thought that they would have played a 2 hour set, but I can’t complain too much. Every song they played sounded great, and I can finally check Soundgarden off the bucket list.