Words by Audra Tracy | Photo by Joe Papeo
Hey New Jersey: hang your heads in shame, because you gave a superbly poor showing at the Soundgarden concert at Monmouth University last night. Where the hell were you guys? Are the grunge fans of our fair state officially too old to come out to a rock show on a week night? Did it cut into your tight schedule of ‘not having fun’?
“Is today the last day of school?”, lead singer Chris Cornell asked a dazed and distant audience inside the half-empty auditorium in West Long Branch. “You guys seem pretty bummed”, he noted in between songs off their latest LP, King Animal.
To the band’s credit, they handled the low turnout like true professionals. Like the anti-Kanye, they didn’t throw a tantrum, or end the show early, or even berate the audience for being so lame. Instead, they did what they came to do, which was celebrate 20+ years of rock n roll history with a career-spanning twenty-seven song set.
Nostalgia set in to the tune of songs birthed from the 90’s grunge scene like ‘Fell on Black Days’ and ‘The Day I Tried to Live’, but new material from King Animal reigned supreme on this night.
How Cornell can scream his head off for two straight hours without needing a case of Ricola to recover remains a mystery, but his epically broad vocal range was definitely on full display. And the ever-stoic Kim Thayil delivered loud and loaded guitar solos with ninja-like finesse, especially during stand-outs like ‘By Crooked Steps’, ‘I’ve Been Away For Too Long’, and ‘Non State Actor’ .
Sure, Soundgarden took the lackluster reception all in stride, but you better believe they won’t be returning to the Jersey shore in the near future. They probably went back to their tour bus after the gig, found a map, and drew a giant X over the Garden State. And can you blame them?
Let Me Drown
Jesus Christ Pose
By Crooked Steps
The Day I Tried to Live
Been Away Too Long
Blow Up the Outside World
Fell on Black Days
Big Dumb Sex
Black Hole Sun
(Bruce Springsteen cover)
Live to Rise
Slaves & Bulldozers
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