Soundgarden – 01/23/2013
Hammerstein Ballroom – New York City
Words/Photos/Video – Jay Porks
If this was my start to 2013, then boy is it going to be tons of musical fun. What goes on people, welcome yourselves to yet another Jay Porks Experience. Tonight it’s Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City to see Soundgarden, who are on the 2nd night of a back to back here at this dreadful venue located at 34th and 8th. It’s 15 degrees outside and I don’t have any money. No money means no cabs. No cabs mean spending 2 hours traveling and being frozen by the time I got to the venue. Luckily tonight, Cornell and Co. were here to help thaw out roughly 4,000 icy New Yorkers.
Let’s talk about the security outside of Hammerstein Ballroom for a second. At about 7:30 I was able to make my way inside without much of a line, the doors are at 7 and the show is at 8. The search at the door was insane. They’re making people take off their ski hats and everything. Searching every single person. My friend Pam is en route. They let me wait for her in the lobby so I’m watching this all go down. I get a call at 8:15 from Pam asking if the line I got on was around the block, because that’s where she is. I head outside to find a line has indeed, formed around the block. These guards are searching three people at a time. This place holds close to 4,000 people, and you guys can’t get a few more event staffers out there and get us in quicker? They’ve created a situation where half the crowd won’t be inside by the time this show starts. It’s 15 degrees out here. I’m not saying I know a better way, but there has got to be some sort of alternative to this. Can we do it like the TSA at the airport? I want to tell these people that I’m only going to be here for 2 hours or so, there’s no reason to bring every single illegal thing I own to this building. Not worth the struggle. This is one of the many reasons why I choose not to visit this venue if I don’t have to. What a scumshell this place is. This is not an issue I have at any other venue and they all do searches.
So remember that “show is at 8” part? Well, we didn’t get to our seats til after 8:30. Another travesty, the seating in the mezzanine. The seats are in “first come, first serve” order. So no matter what number it says on your ticket, no matter if you got tickets 5 weeks ago or 5 minutes ago you have your pick of the litter from all the seats up top. So what did I pay $65 + fees for if my seat isn’t reserved, that’s my only question. And if you caused fans to get into the building a half hour late because of your rigorous search outside, then whats all that weed I smell everywhere?
We seated ourselves in the last two seats on the right side, in the last row. Literally the furthest place you can be in this place. But remember folks, last time I saw Soundgarden I was about a football field away from them at the Gorge in 2010. So being able to actually see the action on stage was a treat. Somewhere between 8:30 and 9 the lights dimmed and the band was set to hit the stage. Ladies and Gentleman, SOUNDGARDEN.
When Soundgarden hit the stage and kicked things off with “Searching With My Good Eye Closed” they began a career spanning (I hate the term “career spanning”) set of old hits, old obscure tracks, and of course a nice dose of King Animal spun in there. We didn’t get into King Animal though, until “Non-State Actor” checked in as the 10th song of the evening. “Spoonman”was awesome in the two slot a the band ripped through “Gun”, “Rhinosaur” and “Flower” before I had to turn to Pam between songs and say “We’re seeing fucking Soundgarden!”. I was excited. I’m happy Twitter exists because I’m terrible with song names. Speaking of Twitter, last night I read tweets about an oversold Hammerstein Ballroom. I read that it was crowded on the floor. Tonight the floor looked packed out, and even though I was in the last row of the building, I did notice people standing behind me by the time we were into “Loud Love” and “Drawing Flies”.
It was during “Drawing Flies” I decided time to grab some quick drinks, and I stood on a line that had 4 people in front of me for the duration of that song as well as “Hunted Down”. I ordered a Coors Light and a Captain and Diet and received a Budweiser and some fruity looking beverage that was clearly not Captain and got charged 17 bucks (Pam got charged 17 bucks). I swear the only people who should be paid for working here tonight are the four on stage because everything else going on inside this venue is a train wreck.
I didn’t even need to hear the lyrics as soon as I saw that backwards American flag on the video screen I knew we were into “Non-State Actor” by now,
so I figured they’d go back to back with new tracks and hit us with “Been Away Too Long” but not so fast-they slipped “My Wave” between them.
“Worse Dreams” into “Blow Up The Outside World”-now we’re in a new one, old one portion of the set. It’s only the halfway point. Kim is adding a little extra funk in his riffs for this one, I hear his guitar trailing off in another direction from time to time in this one, and I like it. “Zero Chance” and “Eyelids Mouth” preceded “By Crooked Steps”-
another one of my favorites off the new record. Speaking of the record, Chris Cornell said at one point earlier (and I have this on video if it ever uploads): “the new record is called King Animal.. if you haven’t bought it by now, well I don’t care if you steal it or whatever” before jokily retracting the statement when he said “I think the president of our record company is here tonight”. “Outshined” was a little extra special tonight
heard everyone in my section screaming along to that one. That place was rocking all night long. Such an amazing live band these guys are. I’ve seen them do it outdoors now I’m seeing them do it indoors. The guy walking around my section who looked like Scott Ian from Anthrax was really getting into it with his girl during that one. I was waiting to have a good laugh when “Blood On The Valley Floor” came on.
The reason for that is because the other day while moving quickly to post a video of Soundgarden performing a song never heard live I mistakenly said that “Blood On The Valley Floor” was unreleased and wasn’t on King Animal. So here I am taping it and I can’t help but laugh at myself. Great track none the less. This King Animal record isn’t an album people should brush to the side while only being grateful that Soundgarden playing together again-this album is awesome. And I really thought I appreciated it when it came out. But seeing these songs brought to life live, Cornell‘s howling, the back drop of a powerful Matt Cameron on drums. Just cause he’s currently ¼ of the band I hate the most in my life he is also ¼ of Soundgarden and he’s tearing stuff up back there. One song another dude was drumming with him on the same kit. I also have that on video, again, barring it uploads anytime this month.
Moment of truth time: Yes they did indeed play “Black Hole Sun“. It was a sweeter version of the song, the ever so slightly more mellow chorus much like I witnessed two years ago across the country. I hate when bands don’t play their biggest hit so I’m happy they played it. Although, had I known what would come or not come later, I would have traded it for Jesus Christ Pose and Pretty Noose(both of which absent tonight).
But like I always say: When you’ve got a bitchin’ camera doubling as binoculars, sitting in a seat rocking out to Soundgarden next to a cool chick who loves Seinfeld as much as you there’s really no way that can turn into a losing situation. “Rowing” was next up before they ducked off. People were exiting since Outshined so lots of people walking in front of my camera. I have no desire to go back out into that cold I’m sitting right here til they make me leave. Came out to a four song encore of “Head Down”, “Rusty Cage”, “The Day I Tried To Live”
and “4th of July”-the middle two of the four being my highlights of that section. I was so into this show I wasn’t even keeping notes besides songs, I wasn’t writing down exact times and stuff.
After “4th of July” Chris left is guitar on the floor of the stage face down and feedback fed through the PA until it faded out into the house music. Somewhere between 11-11:30 they were done and we were on our way out.
You know you’ve taken in something of epic proportions when there’s a handful of songs you wanted to hear that didn’t get played and you’re still walking down the block chatting it up about how amazing the show was. And that’s what Soundgarden brought to the table here tonight. 28 songs. Count it, 28. That’s like a Bruce Springsteen type number. And someone tell Billy Corgan that if what I just witnessed was nothing but a “cash grab” then Cornell and company can snatch my wallet anytime they please.
May have mixed up a few songs in the paragraphs above in terms of order, but the full set list is below the fancy pictures. Late..
Searching With My Good Eye Closed
Live to Rise
Been Away Too Long
Blow Up the Outside World
By Crooked Steps
Blood on the Valley Floor
Black Hole Sun
The Day I Tried to Live
4th of July