On April 9, 1997 Soundgarden announced they were disbanding. I felt super lucky to have been able to see them just the summer before this break up. Time warp with me to 2011 and Soundgarden announced that “school is back in session” and the band was going on tour for the month of July. When that was announced it was not a matter of if I was going to go see them, it was only a matter of where. Bob and I decided The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel in Vegas would be the where in the form of a road trip with our significant others Ingrid and Jasmine. It would still be over a year from this point that the band would release the comeback album King Animal.
After spending Friday at the pool and Friday night at Dick’s Last Resort where Jasmine had a hookup we were all feeling pretty capital on Saturday, especially since it was over 100 degrees outside. After an early dinner Jasmine was DONE, Ingrid decided to go out on her own and Bob and me hopped into a cab to get to the show. It was here we split up and ate the bag of mushrooms we brought with us. We were scared to each eat half the eighth because there were so many caps & stems but onward and upward.
The Joint reminded me a lot of House of Blues but it was a little bigger. We got general admission tickets and stood in the middle of the floor section the whole time. Surprisingly it was actually not very dense down there. This opened the door for some annoying drunk guy to keep bugging us when we could barely talk. We were ignoring him but he was not getting the hint. The next thing you know he totally redeemed himself when he disappeared, came back with two beers for us and then disappeared again for good.
Soundgarden ripped. It was a little different seeing them at their own show versus having a non-headlining slot on Lollapalooza. They set the tone early by opening with “Searching With My Good Eye Closed” in front of a giant backdrop of the Badmotorfinger album cover. Kim Thayil’s Guild guitar was literally snarling on “Gun” and “Beyond the Wheel,” Chris’ voice sounded fucking incredible and Matt and Ben held down some furious rhythms. One might argue that it was the shrooms, but Chris Cornell’s long hair and long beard left me feeling like we just saw Jesus play a show.
Our night was far from over after the final notes of “Slaves & Bulldozers” and so was the “trip.” My first indication was when we spilled out into the casino and the floors appeared as if they were “rolling” beneath us. Bless Ingrid for cabbing it to the Hard Rock to help us out. The three of us got into a cab and my fits of laughter were too contagious for the cabbie to resist laughing right along with me. We had him drop us off at the AM/PM across the street from the Excalibur where we were staying. I was too effed to go into the store to buy beer so I waited outside. As I did an SUV full of possible prostitutes pulled up and said “Heyyyyyyyy. You wanna party?” Hell no. Beer in hand we walked across the street and found 3 giant rocks amongst Astroturf near an Excalibur sign that we decided would be a perfect spot to drink. We seemed to be there for hours and drank all the beer. During this time we made friends with an Iron Maiden loving guy who had been quarreling loudly with his girlfriend only moments earlier. He left and in his place a drunken Irishman appeared. He loved our rock ways and said “I have to go to my room to get my whiskey. Don’t leave. I’ll be right back.” That was fine and dandy except after he left a security guard for Excalibur showed up on a bicycle and informed us the party was over…after we had already been there for hours…but what do I know? I was under the influence of mushrooms and Bud Light.
The next day we caught a movie to try to avoid some of the traffic but it did not matter. Driving back from Vegas is always hell. You feel like shit from drinking and not getting enough sleep and to top it off most of the way back is two lanes of asshole drivers that will cut you off if you do not ride the ass of the car in front of you. Getting to Vegas from San Diego is about a 4.5 hour drive on a good day. The way back is always longer but this particular time took over 10 hours! It was at that moment I vowed to never drive to Vegas again. I reasoned that if I did not have enough money to fly then I probably did not have any business being there anyway. Despite the hellacious car ride home it was worth every minute to get to see Soundgarden again.
SETLIST: “Searching With My Good Eye Closed,” “Spoonman,” “Gun,” “Jesus Christ Pose,” “Blow Up the Outside World,” “The Day I Tried to Live,” “My Wave,” “Pretty Noose,” “Fell on Black Days,” “Ugly Truth,” “Big Dumb Sex,” “Loud Love,” “Outshined,” “Rusty Cage,” “Black Rain,” “Black Hole Sun,” “Head Down,” “Burden in My Hand,” “Superunknown,” “4th of July,” “Beyond the Wheel,” “Hands All Over,” “Slaves & Bulldozers”