SOUNDGARDEN: ARAGON
BALLROOM, CHICAGO - 10 NOV 1996

Photos and text by Seth Perlman















I showed up early and caught a few minutes of the sound check, including a thundering version of "Mailman" (nobody in the hall to absorb the sound), which I was hoping they would play later. Chris also played through a few seconds of the openings of "Burden In My Hand" and "Black Hole Sun".

I was told that the guys were more subdued on the bus on the way over to the Aragon than they were the day before, so I assumed the show would be slightly less intense. Boy, was I wrong.

Their set was superb. They tore through virtually the same songs as the previous night (with a few changes; see below), but the energy level was much higher. And yes, that was Ben spitting on me. I looked up at him and he just grinned and spit at me. The set list for Sunday's show (which is not exactly what was on the printed set list):

  1. Spoonman
  2. Searching With My Good Eye Closed
  3. Let Me Drown
  4. Pretty Noose
  5. Burden In My Hand
  6. My Wave
  7. Ty Cobb
  8. Never Named
  9. Fell On Black Days
  10. Boot Camp
  11. Rusty Cage
  12. Black Hole Sun
  13. Outshined
  14. Blow Up The Outside World
  15. Drawing Flies
  16. Dusty
  17. Slaves & Bulldozers

The encores were "Mailman" and "Jesus Christ Pose".

Some highlights:

  • Ben putting his bass down and tap dancing in the middle of one of the songs. No explanation.

  • Ben toppling two of the 8-foot venue speakers and standing in their place so the crew couldn't stand them up again.

  • Ben hiding down behind the toppled speakers during the intro to "Jesus Christ Pose," holding his bass like a machine gun.

  • The 10-minute jam in the middle of "Slaves & Bulldozers." Amazing.

  • Chris telling the crowd to yell "Soundgarden are cocks" and "Seattle basketball sucks" and then replying with "At least our players don't appear in movies with cartoon characters" (referring to then Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan appearing in Space Jam).

The true highlight of the weekend for me was watching Matt from the stage -- Matt has cymbals roughly arranged (from his perspective) at noon, one, two, and three o'clock, and I was standing at about 2:30, watching his every move. I've never seen anyone stare at an instrument the way he stares at his cymbals. During "Blow Up The Outside World," which I previously thought had a pretty simple and uninteresting drum part, Matt showed such poise and restraint that I nearly fell over anticipating each crash. He would turn and glare right at the cymbal at 2:00, then wait until the very last second and hit it with such precision... Same thing during "Rusty Cage" -- I've never seen such intensity in anyone's eyes before.

Of course, watching Matt do "Jesus Christ Pose" is every Soundgarden fan's dream -- I couldn't follow all 15 of his limbs at once, but the few that I could see were doing totally different things simultaneously.

And the best part of all: during one of the songs towards the end of the set, possibly during "Drawing Flies" or "Dusty," the drumstick in Matt's right hand slipped out and flew towards my side of the stage. It seems that Matt keeps extra sticks right in front of his snare just for this reason. He's beating the snare violently; his right hand comes down and as the stick hits the snare it flies out of his hand; without even blinking or flinching at all, his right hand continues its trajectory downward and comes up with a brand new stick. He doesn't miss a single beat.

If you have comments, by all means let me know.

The photos on this page were taken from the floor in front of the stage using a Canon EOS Rebel G with a 35-80mm lens and ISO 1600 film. They were scanned as TIFs and converted to GIFs for use on the web. The images were cleaned up using Adobe Photoshop 4.0, though no color manipulations were done; the colors in the images are the same as the colors in the photos themselves.













©1996 Seth Perlman. All rights reserved.
Unauthorized reproduction, distribution, borrowing or lending is strictly prohibited.