Spent much of this weekend just staring around in amazement, repeating the phrase “Holy freaking God” over and over again. This is a special 53rd installment of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series as it took us to Newark Airport, where I hopped on a plane and came out to Washington State(Home of the Cougs) to meet up with some of the Northwest chapter of Concert Confessions: thenaturalstoner ,Mr Sparkly (Who Are Hosting Me) and possibly another 3 as at last check we were to have five Concert Confessioners who will be in attendance at the Gorge Amphitheater in George, WA for the epic bill of Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age, Mastodon, and The Meat Puppets on an awesome summer Saturday … Had NOOOO idea what I was getting myself into..
‘We’re not at PNC Bank Arts Center anymore’ is the thought in my head as we start to drive into the campground.. yea that’s right I said it, campground. A sea of tents pitched everywhere, people getting wasted everywhere; and this place was about 1000 times the size of ANY venue I’ve ever been to in my homeland on the Least coast. If I was at this show by myself, there’s no way camping out all night would’ve even been a thought in my head. We don’t camp in NYC, we take sweaty train rides after shows and get home at 2AM… but there I was after the show sleeping on a folding chair outside the tent using a sleeping bag as a blanket , but trust me we will get to all that later.
So we pitch a tent, camp out and pre-funk for a little while.. we decide to head down to the box office and claim the photo passes that were left for us through me via Meat Puppets personnel.. To not run off on a tangent here, lets just send out thanks over to those imbeciles (Livenation) that run the box office at this place for fucking that photo pass experience up for me. If I wasn’t walking over this hill and seeing heaven on the other side, I’d be super pissed-as opposed to just really pissed.
So after several up hill climbs through the scorching hot sun (Yea, I came to Washington State and didn’t see one drop of rain, not one CLOUD my entire time here! False advertisement right there-I thought I was escaping the heat), we finally make it to the the gigantic mountainside that is The Gorge Amphitheater.. I’ve been to venues with lawn based seating, but this is ONLY lawn seating and the hill is a hell of a lot of steeper then the one at PNC in Homdel or that similar, bigger venue in Camden, NJ.. and it’s not a polluted highway behind the stage, it’s a freaking river. It’s like this piece of land split in half causing a canyon to open-and they placed a stage in the middle. I know I sound a little too blown away by seeing the Northwest -but I’m from the city, this is all new to me. A one mile stretch without a cement building is something I’ve never seen before-let alone a valley(or a “Gorge” they might say).
Meat Puppets come out at 6PM with the guns blazing, they were heavy from the start..I knew it was gonna be “Oh, Me” to kick it off by the sound of the guitar jingles.. but I didn’t know they were going to come out that intense with it. I was thrilled to see as many people down on the cement area in front of the stage(every part of this place is general admission-lawn tickets get you everywhere here) can walk down to the front and get rocking out.. Because I know a lot of people are missing them right now, and that sucks. Jumped into “Sam”, the lyrical demonstration that it is..moving faster than R.E.M.’s “It’s the end of the world as we know it”.. Then “Plateau”, which was fitting considering we hiked many hills and plateau’s to arrive where we are. Except there was way more “nothing at the top” at this Plateau, there was the freaking Meat Puppets right in front of me for the seventh time. It was the first time I’ve ever seen Curt Kirkwood use his Les Paul live with my own eyes before, the six times on the east coast I’ve seen them he played his teal Fender Strat.. That’s a query I need answered: Is it a coastal thing? Not like they sound any different, it’s just something that’s been in the back of my mind for a while. “Backwater” followed, the one Meat Puppets song I was able to get played on the radio when I was the in-studio guest at my local college radio station a week ago(88.9FM WSIA or www.WSIA.fm), so we were diggin our heels in, and again I loved the people up front so into it. That one time I caught the Pups as a first opener there was like 30 of us there at a 3500+ capacity venue it saddened me.. so glad I’m in WA. When they followed Backwater with “Sloop John B” (Beach Boys cover) I started getting really excited. Not for Sloop John B so much as for the fact that I was completely sold on the fact they would play “Hey Baby Que Paso”, I’ve been going over the lyrics to the song with the kitchen staff at my day job for months. Then I recognize the little lead in that’s about to be “Lake of Fire”.. as much as I love that freakin’ song, it hurt like a stab in the chest because I knew the set was ending in a little over 7 minutes when the end this song.. Damn, I figured this venue would give them at least 40 mins, they got a half hour, if not less. Again I’m not exactly from around these parts, but I know for a fact that the Meat Puppets didn’t request to only play six songs. I think doors should’ve opened earlier and had longer sets for the bands. It’s not like we’re in a residential area here-we’re all camping here all night.. I just don’t get it. The boys were done at 6:30
Which brings me to my next point: If there’s one band to remove from this bill to make this a full out amazing Ménage à trois of great bands playing long sets, which one would it be? Who’s the odd man out here? Then at 6:48 when Mastodon came out and we started to make our way back up the lawn, that was the question wondered aloud. And lets not take this as a shot at Mastodon, they do what they do and judging by the herds of people heading down for their set-they do it well. Caught them on the BlackDiamondSkye tour at it’s Madison Square Garden stop …so as they plowed through their 40 minutes set while we were walking up the mammoth lawn, they were plenty loud enough where we heard the entire set no matter how far away from the stage we went.
Another wild card to the evening, what is Queens of the Stone Age going to play? They’ve been on a album-themed tour, playing their first record in it’s entirety.. and we just had a 30 minute set followed by a 40 minute set. It’s 7:53 when they came out, there is a lot of show left tonight.
Not recognizing the first four songs was the indicator that this first album thing was going down. First song I recognized was “Giveth Then Take It Away”.. a little while later we had Josh Homme, who is the man by the way, saying “everyone’s waiting for it to get dark so they could do all those things they can’t do in the light” … introduced a song called “Make It Wit-Chu”, saying it was a song for the ladies. Then suddenly out of no where we turn and two people just got engaged during the song-now obviously that guy was aware of what the set list was going to be, we should’ve found him… from that guy popping the question and onward was magic.. my eyes are drawn to the left, as I notice the sun is beginning to set. I know it’s happens everyday, but man during those last three songs “Little Sister”, “Go with the Flow” and “No One Knows” with the sun setting and beams of light bouncing off the river, silhouetting the people on the lawn.. man that 8 minutes or so right there may have been the greatest moment of my life (well, besides Jen Cartiglia of course). They went off at 8:43.. epicness
So it’s coming up on 9 and Soundgarden is on deck.. Little note to keep in mind for the duration of Soundgarden’s set-I hate Eddie Vedder, and I hate Pearl Jam-personal preference, lets not muddy this up. Anyway, being the last show on Soundgarden’s tour and being in their backyard(even though Eddie Vedder is from California,he wears flannel so he can say he’s from there) combined with my luck I had a bad feeling we’d be having a Temple of the Dog section of the set and me in tears during everyone’s glee. All the awesome stuff I’ve seen over here in Washington, this gorgeous venue, this epic adventure can easily be turned into another Jay Porks Bogus Journey. I hate to be the one guy in the building praying for it not to happen(no I don’t), but I think I’m the only one in the building who traveled 3000+ miles for this. If would be the equivalent to finding out the hottest girl you know has a penis.
Save the suspense, as we can read in Jakob’s review, there was no PJ sighting, no Vedder appearances, no Hunger Strike or whatever non sense it is that they do…Also in Jakob’s review he mentions the bootleg tee shirts they were selling outside the venue.. it had all four bands listed on it. Not only did it have the wrong Meat Puppets drummer on it in the picture, but above the words Queens of the Stone Age was a picture of Pearl Jam. I, of course, bought this shirt. With Vedder staring right at me, didn’t notice it til the next day.. (I can’t get away from this guy). So besides that, I’m also thinking “How is Soundgarden going to top this? Seriously, what are they going to do, play a 2 hour set of nothing but their best?”
To answer the question in my last paragraph-Hell yes. It’s exactly what Soundgarden did. The sky was still a bit pink as the sun was behind the mountains. I don’t care how far away I was the sound if freaking golden on some of these videos I got.. 9:10 was the official first riff. And speaking of video, “Spoonman” was the 2nd song in.. “Gun” followed. This place is rocking like I’ve never seen a place rock before. And I got to see “Jesus Christ Pose”! For that girl screaming it in the row in front of me at Town Hall a few weeks back for Cornell’s Acoustic Songbook tour. See, 2 years ago when Soundgarden said they were getting back together, I didn’t think I’d have to wait this long to see them-I thought they’d do some heavy touring-they never did. So these guys were going to have to earn it blowing me away tonight.. and when “Blow up the Outside” smacked me in the face, I knew they were doing just that. Seeing Cornell acoustic songbook tour gave me a reminder that I needed to see this band live, one day, some how. Blow up the Outside at Town Hall just didn’t pack the punch that I needed it too-now here, it’s laying heavy fists to my face repeatedly..
Just an observation here, what’s up with the little slowed down version of “Black Hole Sun”? That’s the song I need to blow up in my face, not the song I can’t wait to hear toned down a bit-but that’s my only critique here about this set, and its minor. I’m just sayin’.. he’s screaming like hell on every other song so it’s not like he’s voice is out.. And then it was only 10:18 when the song ended, which begs the question: So when do they start packing up here? I’m not used to seeing bands just keep playing awesome songs for hours .. everyone else had short sets, who knows.. And keep in mind Vedder walking around the back of my head, me thinking I was going to have to walk out and meet the group at the campground.. Out of no where, Chris Cornell, in one of the more humorous displays I’ve seen, got pissed off that the NBA took Seattle’s basketball team. I don’t know what got him, maybe he spotted a Sean Kemp jersey in the crowd- but he starts saying “Man, they fucking took away our team-It’s fucking bullshit to take away a basketball team!”
Fell on Black Days, My Wave..-they’re still kicking out the fucking jams. During “Burden in my Hand” I asked thenaturalstoner if the lyrics were actually “I shot my load today”.. then around 10:40 he turns and is like “Pretty Noose and I’m good”.. Freaking psychic is what he is, and I forgot how much I love that song. Played “Rusty Cage” and “Head Down” right before it….By now I’m playing with house money, I had stopped taking pictures(or little video snippets) for a while to just sit back and enjoy this.. I’m in the Pacific Northwest watching Soundgarden tear the place apart. We kept saying to each other (Mr Sparkly by now is down front and apparently found Phish Beard) “So what else you think they got?, what else can they play?”
Well they could play , “Head Down” and“Outshined”before topping us off with “Superunknown” before ducking off at 10:52, only to come back out at 10:56 and rock three more songs. On the last song they rocked out and eventually drifted into a pure feedback orgy.. it made me want to cream my pants. They distorted sounds from 11:13 to 11:20, and that’s when the sound was turned down.. it was over.
This is usually the time where I gloat about catching whatever scheduled train I need.. but not the case tonight.. we’re climbing back up the hill and all the way down back to the campsite, where we will spend the night in the tent.. not for nothing, NYC’s been sweltering the last few weeks.. and here, unlike home, when the sun goes down it actually cools off significantly.. I had an extremely comfortable folding chair, plenty of bud and brews- I said “fuck it , pass my sleeping bag over, now it’s a blanket”. After the show while we’re (Me and thenaturalstoner until Mr Sparkly eventually showed up, minus Phishbeard) discussing the night’s proceedings (so glad to be at a show with these dudes, usually when I’m telling a random cab driver or some stranger about an epic night, I spend most of the discussion explaining to them who the bands are. NY is so lame).. main topic is Sparkly being quoted to saying he was “Underwhelmed”. And we’re just about to delve into this deep convo about what show he was watching, those dickheads camped out next to us who where annoying as hell before the show ended up showing up and annoyed the crap out of us all over again. All of a sudden the drummer has a mouth. These dudes say they’re in a band that “sounds like NOFX and Blink 182” named after some actor I can’t remember the name of now. Anyway, your band sounds like NOFX/Blink 182? Yea, that’s just about the time we called it a night.
A side note, my alarm on my phone set to 930 eastern time woke us, and the rest of the surrounding campers up.. seems I’m the only one who didn’t hear it until I was awoken.. So we packed up, and headed into Spokane to catch Willie Nelson at the Northern Quest Casino and Resort before I fly home Monday… Awesomeness.