Reprinted without permission from the Daily Southtown, November 11, 1996

by Vickie Snow

Soundgarden tempted fans to sweetly breathe in its not-so-flowery music and then furiously blow it out, like a gust of wind spraying dandelion fluff, again and again during Saturday night's concert at the Aragon Ballroom.

In the first of two sold-out shows, the foursome proved it knows how to draw in a crowd with softness and blast them out with loudness by embracing ever changing tempos and using a huge wall of amplifiers that took up nearly half the stage.

While the setup made it difficult for some people standing on the sides of the main floor to see drummer Matt Cameron, it let enough room for guitarist Kim Thayil, formerly of Park Forest, to seem right at home, and for bassist Ben Shepherd to sometimes strut in front of the amps.

Completing the front line trio of tall men with low-slung guitars, Chris Cornell played the role of ultimate tease. He captivated the audience while singing softly on the very edge of the stage - close enough to see but not enough to touch - and then smoothly switching into faster lyrics.

Fans got out their cigarette lighters, hugged and swayed when Cornell, alone and shaded in red lights, softly sang the opening lines for "Black Hole Sun" from 1994's Grammy Award-winning album "Superunknown," building up for the excitement that broke out when the rest of the band joined in and went into an extended jam of the hit song.

The band did it again, offering a slow intro to get the crowd psyched, for "Dusty" and "Blow Up the Outside World," the third single from "Down on the Upside."

Their tour in support of this fifth full album kicked off Wednesday in Salt Lake City and will continue through Dec. 11 in their hometown of Seattle.

After taking part in this summer's Lollapalooza tour and then touring Europe last month, the men didn't seem at all tired throughout a set that included mostly radio-popular tracks.

Soundgarden opened with "Spoonman" and went on with the two new tracks "Pretty Noose" and "Burden in My Hand."

The groovy "My Wave" was followed by "Fell on Black Days," which aroused ear-piercing whistles and applause, and a cover of"Helter Skelter," which caused some mellow body surfing. Mellowness sat on the back burner during the frenzied encore of "No Attention" and "Jesus Christ Pose."

Well-received sets were offered by opening bands Rocket From the Crypt, a San Diego punk group with a horn section and goofy glitter shirts, and Tenderloin. But it would have been appreciated by men and women in the crowd and easier to focus on the music if Tenderloin's rather large singer/harmonica player had kept his shirt on while jiggling about on stage.