With the passing of time, 'industrial' and 'grunge' become 'classic rock' and the big guns play the Hollywood Bowl. It's an odd match-up that's been carved on the calendar for months, and here's five reasons why
Location! Location! Location!
Okay, this is weird, lawn-chairs as far as the eye can see, and people with picnic hampers! There’s waiter service too, in case you forgot to pack the hummus dip, and, more importantly, to fetch you a beer or two while the bands are playing. It’s all frightfully civilised, and, under the warm night sky, really quite special, weed smoke and expectation hanging in the air. It feels a million miles away from where both bands began, all sweat and stage divers, but it’s also plain to see why Hollywood Bowl is on so many bucket lists for bands and fans alike.
There are, not to put too fine a point on it, a lot of couples here tonight, and while, curiously, many of them seem to have come for different bands, with the ladies leaning more towards Nine Inch Nails, it’s clear that romance, along with the aforementioned weed smoke, is in the air. The sun sets and the audience rises, picnic hampers packed away, and Soundgarden take to the stage with Searching With My Good Eye Closed. Again it’s a far cry from what became labelled ‘grunge’, but if Black Hole Sun is date night music twenty years on, then perhaps that’s not such a bad thing.
Jesus Christ Pose.
In truth there have been better Soundgarden set-lists. This feels too much like a best of - though that may just be because they have so many classic songs – and the newer album King Animal is woefully under-represented, with only A Thousand Days Before, but still, there are those moments when Soundgarden transcend. Jesus Christ Pose is such a moment as frontman Chris Cornell stands with mic stand and guitar in the shape of a cross, and Kim Thayil’s guitars wails. Come to think of it, so are Outshined, Rusty Cage and Fell On Black Days, which doesn’t explain the lingering feeling that some of the best material is missing.
Nine Inch fucking Nails!
For the sake of argument let’s say you were here for Soundgarden and weren’t really that bothered about the headliners. Even then you couldn’t fail to be impressed by the huge production, like Tron meets Pink Floyd, all stark and hypnotic, and utterly mesmerizing from the off. And while you were being impressed by that you’d quickly find yourself drawn in to the point that by Head Like A Hole you might be singing along at the top of your voice. Nine Inch Nails are that good tonight, simply astonishing. It’s never too late to be blown away. Bow down indeed.
If Soundgarden are a romantic evening in 2014 then Nine Inch Nails are a dirty weekend involving rubber sheets and interestingly shaped vegetables. “You let me violate you, you let me desecrate you…” begins Closer, quite likely responsible for a baby boom nine months from now. In recent interviews Trent Reznor stated his intent to somehow make these big shows as intimate as possible, a job done so well tonight that the voice of one generation may well be the cause of the next. As Nine Inch Nails encore with Hurt you become aware that you never want to miss another show.