It was the hottest ticket in Chicago -- and possibly the rock nation -- Thursday night: Soundgarden at the Vic Theatre warming up for their headlining Lollapalooza set Sunday night with their second gig in the past 13 years. The Seattle grunge pioneers rocked through a marathon 22-song set that spanned two and a half hours, from hits ("Black Hole Sun") to deep cuts ("Flower"), and only 1,400 lucky fans got in on the action.
The show was a head-throttling reminder of all things grunge. Singer Chris Cornell walked onstage like a 1992 version of himself -- in cut-off shorts, high-top sneakers, and a raggedy t-shirt. He and the band drummer Matt Cameron (who also drums for Pearl Jam), guitarist Kim Thayil, and bassist Ben Shepherd -- kicked into an epic set that was the sonic equivalent of a blueprint of the Seattle sound: heavy, loud, and full of metal guitar heroics and classic rock pomp.
Highlights included the classic "Rusty Cage";the crisp rock ballad "Fell On Black Days"; and "Superunknown," which hit so heavily it caused fans to create makeshift toilet-paper earplugs. The band didn't chat with the crowd, instead powering forward with a steady energy.
With his bass slung low, Shepherd stomped onstage in his big black boots, locking in with Cameron on songs like the bulldozer "Mailman." Thayil, marching in circles dressed all in black, including a top hat, played distorted chainsaw riffs on tracks like "Head Down." On "Jesus Christ Pose," Cornell, looking like a grunge Jesus with his shoulder-length hair, spread his arms like a crucifix, cocked his head back, and wailed. His instrument -- arguably the band's finest asset -- was in top form all night.-- William Goodman
Browse SPIN's photog gallery from the show for more on Soundgarden's return!
"Searching With My Good Eye Closed"
"Let Me Down"
"Jesus Christ Pose"
"Fell On Black Days"
"Get On the Snake"
"Burden in My Hand"
"Black Hole Sun"
"Slaves & Bulldozers"
" 4th of July"
"Blow Up the Outside World"
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