Committed Soundgarden fans heading into the band's first official tour date in 14 years at the Molson Ampitheatre in Toronto on Saturday night had reason to wonder if Chris Cornell and Co. could recapture the heavy, tightly focused, subtly melodic sound that had made them stars of Seattle's grunge era some 20 years ago.
Death Cab for Cutie accomplished one of the more remarkable (and respectable) indie-to-mainstream crossovers of the past decade, thanks in large part to Ben Gibbard's uncommon ability to vent very universal strains of male angst in a non-icky way. So while the crowd at Wednesday night's tour kickoff at Toronto's Phoenix Concert Theatre engaged in more than a few beardy, hugs-'n'-all "I fuckin' love this song!" bro'-downs, and swooning ladies were out in numbers, the fact that they were responding to one of the more literate, articulate, and real songwriters of his generation made the genericism feel more accidental than anything. For Gibbard is no John Mayer. He's stumbled into the tasteful end of the frontman's "some wanna be him, some wanna fuck him" predicament.