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Soundgarden Guitar Hero Secret Show Review – 9/27/10 – Paramount Studio – Hollywood, CA

29 September 2010 13 Comments

By: Darius

Monday was supposed to be an ordinary day. Go to work, go to the gym, watch football, go to bed. Typical Monday for me at this time of year. Well, with great thanks to Rob Patterson of Filter, this past Monday was anything but ordinary for me as I took a chance, got lucky, scored entrance and was in attendance for a secret show put on by a recently reunited hard rock outfit that many consider the foundation of the Seattle music explosion in the 1990’s. It was a matter of happenstance that I decided to check my twitter feed at 5:30pm, a mere 30 minutes before I was set to leave work for the day and not look at a computer screen again until the following morning. Well, right at the top of the feed was the following tweet sent out by Patterson just 15 minutes prior:

A tweet by Rob Patterson

Soundgarden? What is he talking about? I knew Rob Patterson lives in LA so the wheels started turning, I began searching online, and within a minute found out that Soundgarden, a band that I love and personally never thought would find it in themselves to reunite, was playing a live show about 10 minutes away from where I was sitting. The only problem was that the band was set to play on the Paramount Studios lot, not a traditional venue, and that the only way one could gain access was to obtain a wristband that no longer existed. The band had sent out an email several hours earlier to LA area fans that had signed up on Soundgarden’s website prior to Monday to go to Amoeba Records in Hollywood and get these wristbands (2 per person) for free of charge. Ok. So the first thing I did was call Amoeba and was told by the friendly store clerk that the wristbands are long gone and there were only a limited number to begin with since this was a special event.

Chris Cornell of Soundgarden

Chris Cornell

This special event was actually a release party for the new Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock video game that was released yesterday nationwide. Soundgarden bundled their recent greatest hits, titled Telephantasm, with the first 1 million copies. Smart move by the band, I must say. Soundgarden hasn’t been around in over a decade and didn’t even have a website one year ago. The vast majority of kids and teenagers don’t know who they are unless they were fortunate to have been exposed to them somehow. The Guitar Hero games are hugely popular and this is a terrific way to bridge the gap separating generations of music loving fanbases. It’s anything but a traditional form of breaking bands, but if it steers kids away from such atrocities as Cute Is What We Aim For or Fallout Boy and onto Soundgarden, than I’m all for it.

Ben Shepherd of Soundgarden

Ben Shepherd

Regardless of the fact that I didn’t have a magical wristband, I figured I would show up at the studio and see what I could do; sacrifice the night and perhaps see a band I’ve loved since childhood. Nothing to lose, right? I arrived to the Paramount Studio lot at 6pm and was one of the first few people there standing in a rapidly growing line. Everyone had wristbands except for me and a couple of other guys. I walked up and down the line a few times asking if anyone had an extra to no avail. It was such an odd scene since we were standing on a street outside a movie studio and there weren’t the usual bouncers, tour buses, etc. Furthermore, it was nearly 100 degrees outside and we were all sweating like hell. Two and half hours pass and they finally start letting people into the studio. I tried to sneak in by hiding amongst a cluster of the friends I made standing in line and got caught. Slightly embarrassing but who cares? Then I tried to talk my way in by pretending I was supposed to be on the guestlist. That wasn’t working either. In my sheer last desperate act, I just started asking every other person that walked past if they had an extra wristband.

The rock n’ roll gods above must’ve felt sorry for me because maybe the fifth person I asked was a middle-aged, unassuming woman with a friendly smile on her face. This saint of a woman just looked at me nonchalantly and said, “I have one” and than pulled an extra wristband out of her purse. And just like that, I was in! Amazing!

Kim Thayil and Chris Cornell

Kim Thayil and Chris Cornell

Entering the Paramount studio lot was surreal. I was transported into New York City. There were subway stations, brownstones, sky rises, NYC police cars, and even actors dressed up like bums with 40 ounces walking around! I found out that this lot has been used for years to film numerous New York based movies and television shows. You really have to walk around this set to believe it, but I really did feel like I was back in New York, despite the sweltering heatwave we have been suffering through in Los Angeles.

Matt Cameron of Soundgarden

Matt Cameron of Soundgarden

It was quite the scene. Open bar stations were everywhere. Food stations with everything from pastrami sliders to pizza slices to gourmet chicken tacos. A DJ spinning on top of a NY police car. Guitar hero stations for anyone to walk-up and try the new game. Just ridiculous. Finally, the show was to take place inside “CBGB”. They actually recreated the outside of the old heralded NY music venue. A huge line was already forming to get into the show and at the very front of the line were my new friends who I was talking to for hours beforehand. They let me cut right in front and after a few beers and some food, we were right in front of the stage to see the mighty Soundgarden! I was no more than 3 feet from the stage.

The band took the stage to raucous applause and played a 10 song set that included a few noteworthy hits as well as a few rarities that are included in Telephantasm. They sounded amazing. Chris Cornell needs to be in Soundgarden and nothing else. His solo work is horrifying and his Audioslave output is mediocre at best. But you can’t deny the Soundgarden catalog; it’s truly some of the best quality music of its time. The most pleasant surprise was that Cornell, after all these years, still hits all those high notes that made him a household name. He sounded fantastic.

Soundgarden Setlist Guitar Hero Party

The rest of the band was amazing as well; they sounded tight and the performance was flawless. I have to give special recognition to bassist Ben Shepherd. This guy is a beast. I had no idea. He plays with his fingers and he plucks the strings with such force that it’s a wonder how he keeps his instrument together. By the end of the second song, he had rubbed the skin off the tip of his middle finger. Blood actually ran down the body of the bass guitar and coagulated, where it remained for the entire set. I’ve been to hundreds of shows in my life and I have never seen that before. I know it hurt too because you could occasionally see it on his face; it was definitely bothering him. However, he continued to play with his fingers until the very last song of the encore, when it was too much for him and he switched to playing with a pick. Crazy.

It was packed in there and probably 150 degrees but it was so worth it. I walked out of that tent a sweaty mess but obviously in huge spirits. I gambled and won. I saw Soundgarden play only their 4th show since reuniting a few months ago. I also witnessed the very first live performance of “Black Rain,” the recent unreleased single off Telephantasm. I can only hope that the band announces some real tour dates so everyone can get a chance to see them. This music needs to be heard by younger fans and should be re-lived by the older generations. They were one of the very best back in the day and they haven’t lost a single step.

***Soundgarden: Setlist – Hollywood, CA 9/27/2010***

Hands All Over
Spoonman
Rusty Cage
Hunted Down
Outshined
Burden In My Hand
Black Hole Sun
Black Rain

Encore

Beyond The Wheel
Gun

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13 Comments »

  • 1942 said:

    Gold! A pleasant read and a story of triumph!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • mAAT said:

    KIM LOOKS SO OLD BUT NOT OLD BUT JUST HIS AGE

    GREAT WRITING MAN KEEP IT UP, PERSISTENCE HAHAHAHA

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Paris said:

    This is the best review written ever. Love it.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • OKLAST said:

    This is what happens when you make a pathetic attempt at a hip hop album.

    I so wish I was at this show. It sounds like a once in a lifetime thing.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Carla said:

    This isn’t a show reviews, folks … it’s an essay on living life to the fullest.

    Do it!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • subway6 said:

    I completely disagree with your assessment of Chris’ body of word. The solo stuff can’t be defended. It sucks balls. The Audioslave stuff better than mediocre. Too many albums too fast.

    I really enjoyed your article.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • dropbows said:

    Amazing story, and all because of twitter. You’re too kind not to at least post a link to cornell’s “part of me” video. I’m assuming Matt Cameron isn’t leaving Pearl Jam altogether for this, right?

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Darius said:

    Matt Cameron is very much a full-time member of Pearl Jam. he made that well known from the start. plus, pearl jam is done with their past album cycle and onto doing other things at the moment. Stone is back together with the guys in Brad, Eddie is likely drinking wine and surfing all day, etc. hell, soundgarden still doesn’t have concrete plans for recording OR touring, which is a damn shame.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Andrew said:

    I find myself amused, enlightened, and often times, inspired, by Darius’ show reviews.

    However, none of what you read holds a candle to the post-show phone calls I sometimes get – priceless.

    And, as great of a vocalist as Chris Cornell is, there never, ever, ever will be excuse for his last solo album – ever.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Grant said:

    @Andrew: I was obsessed with Soundgarden for many years and my girlfriend now my wife is more into the Europop (Goldfrapp and the like). Took her to see Audioslave with me when we were visiting family in the US. She didn’t quite get it if you know what I mean. She knew I was obsessed with Cornell musically though. She laughed at me after seeing his video on TV here. He should really condemn that effort. He grew his hair out and hopes people will give him a pass. They should.

    Good stuff in that Stooges show mates!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • atestaplatates said:

    Best AKF article EVER!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • WORLD of SHAME said:

    “The rock n’ roll gods above must’ve felt sorry for me because maybe the fifth person I asked was a middle-aged, unassuming woman with a friendly smile on her face. This saint of a woman just looked at me nonchalantly and said, “I have one” and than pulled an extra wristband out of her purse. And just like that, I was in! Amazing!”

    Greatness.

      (Quote)  (Reply)

  • Oscar said:

    Do you have photos of the venue? It would be cool to see all that stuff. Stoked to hear you got in! Persistence!

      (Quote)  (Reply)

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