Live from the Artists Den

Live from the Artists Den

By the time Soundgarden taped their 2013 set at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theatre for the long-running PBS show Live From the Artists Den, they were three years into what by all measures was a pretty successful reunion: They’d released new music (2012’s King Animal), had been touring steadily without looking eager or cash-grabby, and above all seemed like a band trying to navigate the future instead of trade solely on their past—a past that made them far more famous than any of their members were prepared for. Listening to the performance here, what stands out is just how unique their sound was. Yes, they could be heavy and gut-churning (“Outshined,” “Rusty Cage,” “My Wave”), but they could also be ethereal, almost delicate (“Fell on Black Days,” “Black Hole Sun,” “4th of July”—introduced here by Chris Cornell as a song about “being really, really, really fucked up on acid somewhere in the vicinity of America’s Independence Day”)—a vision of hard rock both experimental and remarkably easy to grasp. That the King Animal material sounds comfortable in context makes Cornell’s 2017 suicide that much more painful. A strong parting shot from a band that seemed like they still had room to grow.

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