Reprinted without permission from the Washington Post,
November 22, 1996
SOUNDGARDEN'S MEAN STREAK
Soundgarden's show wednesday at the patriot center was an hour and a half of high-octane hate -- what the set lacked in texture, it made up in aggression and louder-than-life volume.
Most prominent in all the noise was singer and guitarist Chris Cornell's desperate howl of a voice. Although the band had canceled its last 2 shows on account of that voice giving out, he showed no signs of weakness before the 2/3's full house, even in such stark settings as his solo version of "Black Hole Sun." Cornell, usually a quasi-operatic presence, also showed some intriguing versatility and subtlety in his menacing, slurred vocals on the band's eerie, trancelike cover of "Helter Skelter."
The other members of the band had no trouble keeping up, despite being distracted by the junk thrown at them by a few clue-deficient audience members. "If you see somebody throwing (expletive), (expletive), punch 'em in the face," Cornell suggested, but the Seattle quartet put that anger to good use on such thoroughly harsh on onslaughts as "My Wave," "Outshined" and "Dusty" -- plus slightly more nuanced, mid-tempo numbers like "Burden In My Hand," in which Cornell and guitarist Kim Thayil teamed up to produce a layered, gritty sound.
Tenderloin and Rocket form the Crypt opened for soundgarden but neither fared as well as the headline act. Rocket, in particular, crashed and burned: While this 7-piece unit's brand of glam-rock was catchy enough, the singer's Jim Carreyesque excess of attitude ("Who came to rock and roll here?!!") only annoyed the crowd -- which, after the set, cheered the roadies when they yanked Rocket's banner from the stage.