Friday, May 19, 2017

Soundgarden & NIN, Jones Beach, August 1, 2014 - Show Review

Okay, so my previous post was a republication of the first Chris Cornell related show review that I did here on "The Charbor Chronicles." 

Below is the second, which was of a show that they did with Nine Inch Nails on August 1, 2014, and which was published the day after the concert. Never thought that this would be the last Soundgarden show that I would attend. Here is the review:

I had not seen Soundgarden as a group since Lollapalooza 1996, although I had seen Chris Cornell with Audioslave once, and in a solo gig once just last year - read the blog entry on that dated November 23, 2013!). It should be noted that I had tickets to see them in May of last year, at a concert in Philly (actually, I think it was technically across the river, in Camden) with Alice in Chains and numerous other acts, although as a result of my own stupidity, I did not actually wind up attending that show (let's just leave it at that!).

Also, I had never seen Nine Inch Nails, although I came fairly close to so doing a few times. The first, if this even counts, was in their relatively early days, when they had just begun to become popular, back in, I think, the year 1995. I had a friend (who shall remain nameless), who had a tendency to say and promise some wild things, but often failed to deliver. This is a guy who claimed to have a lot of connections that, in fact, he simply did not have. According to one of those connections, with a "guy who works with the band", he claimed that the members of Pearl Jam would trick girls into their tour buses (as if they needed to do that at that point in their career), and then rape them. That was one of the claims that he made back then, which serves as an example of the kind of wild claims that he tended to make about himself, which I guess made him feel more important and in the know, but which actually made him sound unreliable at best, and a downright liar, and a nasty spreader of false rumors, at worst.

In any case, he promised me that he had scored some tickets to the local appearance of the Nine Inch Nails and David Bowie tour (remember that odd pairing?), back when those two acts were touring together. Needless to say, the date came, and the date went, and I did not go to see that concert. I would eventually go to see David Bowie in concert (in fall of 2002, when he did a miniature tour of the five boroughs of New York). But even though I came close to seeing Nine Inch Nails in more recent years, I never actually did manage to see them until last night!

I had gotten the tickets on Ebay for remarkably cheap! Having hunted for a few weeks for tickets (after they had sold out), I found a pair of tickets for $74! Split between two people, that meant that it was $37 (not including the tolls and other expenses it took to get there, of course), in order to enjoy the privilege of seeing two awesome bands perform live! Not a bad deal!

Also, I always loved going to Jones Beach, because you have the option (time permitting, of course) of spending some time before the show at the beach! So, you can enjoy a day (or at least part of a day) at the beach, if you have enough free time, than unwind in the evening with an awesome show! Unfortunately, due to the weather, I had not actually brought my swimming trunks, although the weather at Jones Beach itself actually held up, and I would have been able to take a dip in the ocean, as it turns out! Over the years, dating back all the way to 1999, I've seen numerous great acts at this venue, including Roger Waters, Pearl Jam, Jethro Tull, the Sex Pistols, Iggy Pop and the Stooges, and Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band (the first concert that my girlfriend and I went to together, just a couple of years ago!).

Now, I can add Soundgarden and Nine Inch Nails to that list!

Soundgarden came out while there was still quite a bit of daylight left, and the stadium seemed more than half empty, still. The initial crowd response was weak as a result, probably as a mixture of surprise that they had come on so early, as well as simply that most people had not gotten to their seats yet. I was actually admittedly a bit angry initially that people seemed to be disrespecting such a great band! Soundgarden surely deserves better, thought I! But more and more people arrived at the show, so that by the end of their set, the place seemed pretty crowded, and the crowd response was much more appropriate as a result. It was roughly a quarter to eight when they took the stage, and the crowd seemed more pleasantly surprised than anything when they took the stage, opening with Searching With My Good Eye Closed, before exploding into Spoonman before a responsive audience.

They then launched into I've Been Away For Too Long, a track from their latest album, King Animal, which Cornell introduced, rather puzzlingly, as a B-Side from that album, even though it is actually the opening track of the album. Perhaps he meant the particular version that they would play that night? I cannot say for certain. But they performed that, which was fitting, given how long of an absence for the band prior to their latest album, before playing a song that the audience clearly knew better, The Day I Tried To Live.

Before playing Gun, Chris Cornell mentioned that they were about to try a song that they had not played in many years (perhaps even decades, I'm guessing), and which they had never played with Matt Cameron. So, he asked the audience to be lenient if the band makes a mistake or two, although he then chimed in that we probably would not even notice it, anyway.

After the song was played (flawlessly, it seemed to me), he turned back to Matt, and said that his performance had been impressive! Then he mentioned how badly Matt stresses out before shows and songs, only to perform flawlessly once he needs to. "So, why all the stress?" he asked.

Cornell addressed the crowd later in the evening as well, discussing some of the anger in the old songs. He said that the band had just needed to get that out of them, and that those were dark days, back when they were writing and performing those songs. And while the world seemed happier now, he cautioned that the world certainly was not a better place these days than they had been back then. But, he mentioned, they were pleased to be playing a tour with one of the bands that they could relate to in terms of music and attitude on this tour, mentioning Nine Inch Nails by name.

They then played a stretch of iconic Soundgarden tracks, including Black Hole Sun, Outshined, a very uptempo version of Jesus Christ Pose, Blow Up the Outside World, and Fell on Black Days.

Chris Cornell then said that the next song, "is from the Superunknown album, and it's called Superunknown", and the band played an intense version of that.

Soundgarden performed one last track from their most recent album,  A Thousand Days Before, and then launched into a heavy version of Rusty Cage. They closed their setlist with Beyond the Wheel, with Cornell simply waving before walking off the stage. Ben Sheppard and Kim Thayill remained on the stage for some time, working on the distortions, with Thayill ultimately being the last to leave.

I was a bit surprised that they did not come out for an encore, as the house lights came on immediately after Thayill walked off stage.

Their set ended surprisingly early, at around 9pm or so, after one hour and a quarter, roughly, of play. Another surprise was they they had performed only two songs from King Animal, their most recent album.

It was roughly 9:25 when, without much warning, when a very buff looking Trent Reznor came onto a stage that seemed surprisingly empty. From my vantage point (I did not exactly have the best seats in the house), I only knew it was Reznor by the audience reaction up front, when everyone started sytanding and screaming and cheering. Although the stage appeared empty (from my vantage point) the instruments had simply been pushed off to the side and largely out of view, though, and Reznor's bandmates came on very shortly after Reznor got the evening started.

Reznor walked straight to the synthesizer, house lights still on, and got the music started, as Nine Inch Nails opened with Copy of A, a track from their most recent album, Hesitation Marks. The crowd was clearly very much into their setlist from the beginning.

The band in general, and Reznor in particular, seemed to have an incredible amount of energy, moving and dancing to the music that they were flawlessly playing on the stage!

Indeed, Nine Inch Nails played their setlist with incredible intensity and energy throughout, and they sounded sharp and on point all night -  admittedly, probably a bit better than Soundgarden did, even though I personally was there more for Soundgarden.

Playing in a more traditional concert manner of saving the bigger hits for the latter part of their set (with a few notable exceptions!), Reznor and Co. really put on a clinic. The majority of fans seemed to be there for NIN last night, and nobody looked disappointed!

Granted, I was not as big a fan of Nine Inch Nails as Soundgarden, but I'll admit that I want to dig up my old NIN albums and dust them off, and give them some good listens after last night! Yes, they were that good!

Hell, I might even go out and get the new album, which I listened to a few times on Youtube a few times. Apparently, Youtube has taken to playing commercials that break up the video that you are watching. Has anyone else noticed this rather annoying trend?

Reznor's voice has held up well and not changed much over the course of years, and I was pleasantly surprised that he was able to sing with the same measure of clarity and emotional intensity, while still managing to jump and dance around onstage like a man twenty years or more his junior! Very impressive!

Perhaps the one mild surprise about the concert was that Reznor was not all that communicative with the audience. Other than the occasional "thank you" to an enthusiastic audience response after certain songs were performed, he hardly spoke at all.

Still, all in all, a solid night of rock from two heavyweights in music! It was a night for reminiscing about the nineties, as well as enjoying the new offerings that both bands had to offer!

If you are a fan of either of these groups, I strongly recommend getting tickets to this show while you can! How often can you see two such high caliber acts on the same night?

Soundgarden Setlist:

Searching With My Good Eye Closed  
Been Away Too Long  
The Day I Tried to Live  
Gun  (tour premiere) 
Black Hole Sun  
Jesus Christ Pose  
Blow Up the Outside World  
Fell on Black Days  
A Thousand Days Before  
Rusty Cage  
Beyond the Wheel 


NIN Setlist:

Copy of A
Came Back Haunted
March of the Pigs
Terrible Lie
Gave Up
Find My Way
The Great Destroyer
Eraser  Wish  Only
The Hand That Feeds
Head Like a Hole

Encore: Hurt


The actual beach is within easy walking distance of the venue, as you walk in a tunnel under the road that takes you to the beach side. If you come to Jones Beach for a concert, you might want to consider coming at least a few hours early, to take in the beach, and perhaps go for a little swim in the ocean, if you are so inclined. I was planning on doing so myself on this day, but the weather was overcast, and there had been brief but strong storms in Jersey. But when I came here, I began to regret not having taken my swimming trunks, towel, and a change of clothes, because downcast or not, it seemed like not a drop of rain had fallen from the sky! Oh, well.....

You can see a lot of empty seats for the beginning of Soundgarden's set. The start probably came earlier than many of the concertgoers expected.

As Soundgarden's set went on, the venue began to fill up in a hurry!

Nine Inch Nails begins their exciting setlist, surprisingly (to me) with the house lights still on!

As I mentioned earlier in the blog entry, the lighting and visual effects for Nine Inch Nails was impressive! You cannot really get the sense of just how bright and how fast everything on stage seemed to be moving based on these pictures, but this nonetheless might give you an idea of what it looked like, if you've never seen them in concert before. Compare this to the Soundgarden set, which was mostly during daylight, and you can see why the complete darkness of nightfall adds to the dramatic effect for a concert such as this.

The logo came out just right in this picture (the others were too blurry to post), as NIN first walked off the stage, just prior to playing their closing song, Hurt, to close out their set and end the night on.

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