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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

An Evening With Soundgarden - Manhattan Center's Hammerstein Ballroom 01/23/13

Soundgarden - 01/23/2013
Hammerstein Ballroom - New York City
Words/Photos/Video - Jay Porks
Episode 82
Soundgarden 10
If this was my start to 2013, then boy is it going to be tons of musical fun. What goes on people, welcome yourselves to yet another Jay Porks Experience. Tonight it's Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City to see Soundgarden, who are on the 2nd night of a back to back here at this dreadful venue located at 34th and 8th. It's 15 degrees outside and I don't have any money. No money means no cabs. No cabs mean spending 2 hours traveling and being frozen by the time I got to the venue. Luckily tonight, Cornell and Co. were here to help thaw out roughly 4,000 icy New Yorkers.   Let's talk about the security outside of Hammerstein Ballroom for a second. At about 7:30 I was able to make my way inside without much of a line, the doors are at 7 and the show is at 8. The search at the door was insane. They're making people take off their ski hats and everything. Searching every single person. My friend Pam is en route. They let me wait for her in the lobby so I'm watching this all go down. I get a call at 8:15 from Pam asking if the line I got on was around the block, because that's where she is. I head outside to find a line has indeed, formed around the block. These guards are searching three people at a time. This place holds close to 4,000 people, and you guys can't get a few more event staffers out there and get us in quicker? They've created a situation where half the crowd won't be inside by the time this show starts. It's 15 degrees out here. I'm not saying I know a better way, but there has got to be some sort of alternative to this. Can we do it like the TSA at the airport? I want to tell these people that I'm only going to be here for 2 hours or so, there's no reason to bring every single illegal thing I own to this building. Not worth the struggle. This is one of the many reasons why I choose not to visit this venue if I don't have to. What a scumshell this place is. This is not an issue I have at any other venue and they all do searches.
Soundgarden 9
  So remember that “show is at 8” part? Well, we didn't get to our seats til after 8:30. Another travesty, the seating in the mezzanine. The seats are in “first come, first serve” order. So no matter what number it says on your ticket, no matter if you got tickets 5 weeks ago or 5 minutes ago you have your pick of the litter from all the seats up top. So what did I pay $65 + fees for if my seat isn't reserved, that's my only question. And if you caused fans to get into the building a half hour late because of your rigorous search outside, then whats all that weed I smell everywhere? We seated ourselves in the last two seats on the right side, in the last row. Literally the furthest place you can be in this place. But remember folks, last time I saw Soundgarden I was about a football field away from them at the Gorge in 2010. So being able to actually see the action on stage was a treat. Somewhere between 8:30 and 9 the lights dimmed and the band was set to hit the stage. Ladies and Gentleman, SOUNDGARDEN.
Soundgarden 1
When Soundgarden hit the stage and kicked things off with “Searching With My Good Eye Closed” they began a career spanning (I hate the term “career spanning”) set of old hits, old obscure tracks, and of course a nice dose of King Animal spun in there. We didn't get into King Animal though, until “Non-State Actor” checked in as the 10th song of the evening. “Spoonman”was awesome in the two slot a the band ripped through “Gun”, “Rhinosaur” and “Flower” before I had to turn to Pam between songs and say “We're seeing fucking Soundgarden!”. I was excited. I'm happy Twitter exists because I'm terrible with song names. Speaking of Twitter, last night I read tweets about an oversold Hammerstein Ballroom. I read that it was crowded on the floor. Tonight the floor looked packed out, and even though I was in the last row of the building, I did notice people standing behind me by the time we were into “Loud Love” and “Drawing Flies”. It was during “Drawing Flies” I decided time to grab some quick drinks, and I stood on a line that had 4 people in front of me for the duration of that song as well as “Hunted Down”. I ordered a Coors Light and a Captain and Diet and received a Budweiser and some fruity looking beverage that was clearly not Captain and got charged 17 bucks (Pam got charged 17 bucks). I swear the only people who should be paid for working here tonight are the four on stage because everything else going on inside this venue is a train wreck.
Soundgarden 4
I didn't even need to hear the lyrics as soon as I saw that backwards American flag on the video screen I knew we were into “Non-State Actor” by now, so I figured they'd go back to back with new tracks and hit us with “Been Away Too Long” but not so fast-they slipped “My Wave” between them. Worse Dreams” into “Blow Up The Outside World”-now we're in a new one, old one portion of the set. It's only the halfway point. Kim is adding a little extra funk in his riffs for this one, I hear his guitar trailing off in another direction from time to time in this one, and I like it. “Zero Chance” and “Eyelids Mouth” preceded “By Crooked Steps”- another one of my favorites off the new record. Speaking of the record, Chris Cornell said at one point earlier (and I have this on video if it ever uploads): “the new record is called King Animal.. if you haven't bought it by now, well I don't care if you steal it or whatever” before jokily retracting the statement when he said “I think the president of our record company is here tonight”. “Outshined” was a little extra special tonight heard everyone in my section screaming along to that one. That place was rocking all night long. Such an amazing live band these guys are. I've seen them do it outdoors now I'm seeing them do it indoors. The guy walking around my section who looked like Scott Ian from Anthrax was really getting into it with his girl during that one. I was waiting to have a good laugh when “Blood On The Valley Floor” came on. The reason for that is because the other day while moving quickly to post a video of Soundgarden performing a song never heard live I mistakenly said that “Blood On The Valley Floor” was unreleased and wasn't on King Animal. So here I am taping it and I can't help but laugh at myself. Great track none the less. This King Animal record isn't an album people should brush to the side while only being grateful that Soundgarden playing together again-this album is awesome. And I really thought I appreciated it when it came out. But seeing these songs brought to life live, Cornell's howling, the back drop of a powerful Matt Cameron on drums. Just cause he's currently ¼ of the band I hate the most in my life he is also ¼ of Soundgarden and he's tearing stuff up back there. One song another dude was drumming with him on the same kit. I also have that on video, again, barring it uploads anytime this month.
Soundgarden 2
Moment of truth time: Yes they did indeed play "Black Hole Sun". It was a sweeter version of the song, the ever so slightly more mellow chorus much like I witnessed two years ago across the country. I hate when bands don't play their biggest hit so I'm happy they played it. Although, had I known what would come or not come later, I would have traded it for Jesus Christ Pose and Pretty Noose(both of which absent tonight). But like I always say: When you've got a bitchin' camera doubling as binoculars, sitting in a seat rocking out to Soundgarden next to a cool chick who loves Seinfeld as much as you there's really no way that can turn into a losing situation. "Rowing" was next up before they ducked off. People were exiting since Outshined so lots of people walking in front of my camera. I have no desire to go back out into that cold I'm sitting right here til they make me leave. Came out to a four song encore of “Head Down”, “Rusty Cage”, “The Day I Tried To Live and “4th of July”-the middle two of the four being my highlights of that section. I was so into this show I wasn't even keeping notes besides songs, I wasn't writing down exact times and stuff. After “4th of July” Chris left is guitar on the floor of the stage face down and feedback fed through the PA until it faded out into the house music. Somewhere between 11-11:30 they were done and we were on our way out.
You know you've taken in something of epic proportions when there's a handful of songs you wanted to hear that didn't get played and you're still walking down the block chatting it up about how amazing the show was. And that's what Soundgarden brought to the table here tonight. 28 songs. Count it, 28. That's like a Bruce Springsteen type number. And someone tell Billy Corgan that if what I just witnessed was nothing but a “cash grab” then Cornell and company can snatch my wallet anytime they please. May have mixed up a few songs in the paragraphs above in terms of order, but the full set list is below.. Late.

 Setlist: Searching With My Good Eye Closed
 Loud Love
 Drawing Flies
 Hunted Down
 Live to Rise
 Non-State Actor
 My Wave
 Been Away Too Long
 Worse Dreams
 Blow Up the Outside World
 Zero Chance
 Eyelid's Mouth
 Like Suicide
 By Crooked Steps
 Blood on the Valley Floor
 Fresh Tendrils
 Black Hole Sun
 Head Down
 Rusty Cage
 The Day I Tried to Live
 4th of July        

Dinosaur Jr And Friends - Terminal 5 NYC 12/01/12

Dinosaur Jr + Special Guests - 12/01/2012
Terminal 5 - New York City
Words/Photos/Videos - Jay Porks

In two weeks, Dinosaur Jr's second studio record “You're Living All Over Me” will turn 25 years old-why wait til then to start the celebration? Tonight, in the 81st Edition of the Jay Porks Never Ending Concert Series we return to Terminal 5 in New York City (610 West 56th Street) for what is billed as “Dinosaur Jr's 25th anniversary of "You're Living All Over Me" with Very Special Friends Sitting In and Special Guest Kurt Vile” Well, it's well known that if the ticket says Dinosaur Jr and I can get there via Bus, Train and/or Boat-chances are I'm getting myself in the building. Kurt Vile and The Violators supporting, if nothing else, peaks my interest for an opening band. And Vile's a bitchin' guitar player so sitting in should be fun as well. But friends? Who? Weeks after I bought tickets a few names sprinkled out. Johnny Marr will be here. Dale Crover will be here. Al Cisneros will be here. Frank Black will be here and Kim Gordon will be here. If that's not enough, there's going to be two Dinosaur Jr sets, first playing the record and the second being a collection of hits ranging the band's whole catalog. There's still the extreme likely possibility that more guests will appear tonight on stage. Anything can happen. Let's hope “anything” means “everything that you can think of in the world” tonight. In my first trip into Manhattan in a post- Sandy world, I found myself outside online to get into Terminal 5 at 6:30 with doors set to open at 7 due to train stations being out of order. I would complain about walking a few blocks, but I still have my home and stuff plus I could use the exercise. Felt like forever standing out there on line-not because it was cold. It was my anxiety, my prayers to several gods to be able to obtain my awesome third floor spot. I was about 100 deep in the line and another 100 people (at least) were behind me by the time doors opened. We got in and I ran up two flights of stairs to find exactly what I was looking: an empty third floor with plenty of chairs and ottomans to keep me comfortable until showtime. After I grabbed myself a Pepsi, it was already 7:30.
At 8 o clock Kurt Vile and the Violators hit the stage. They impressed everyone by the end of their set. Each songs having a different feel, kept thanking us for being a “beautiful audience”. They seem like a band that should have been around when bands like Dinosaur Jr and Sonic Youth were getting big in the late 80's. They have that psychedelic thing going, but the sweet melodies are what, well, keep making me want to compare them to Dinosaur Jr. Was that an 18 string acoustic I saw Kurt Vile bust out on a song called “Freeway” or am I wrong? He changed guitars every single song. I like guitars, so this is a plus in my book. And we share a haircut. His voice is very punky, the tone is perfect for this kind of show. You know-effects pedals everywhere and extended noise jams. I recorded their song “Monkey”. Awesome job by them. It was 8:40 when they went off.
Truth be told, I haven't listened to "You're Living All Over Me" front to back in a few years. So I had to go back this past week leading up to the show and re-brush myself up on the masterpiece that is that album. After kicking off the night with "Thumb"(with a chick on stage playing the flute.. or a clarinet) , our first guest of the evening hit the stage next and was our first surprise guest of the evening: Lee Ranaldo(of Sonic Youth fame). He provided some vocals on the record's first track, “Little Fury Things”. So here we are, for the next 46 or so minutes watching Dinosaur Jr just kill it. I mean it's not like I haven't seen this band kill it before, this is my forth time. But they're getting better. J Mascis takes a cerebral attack towards his playing, making his guitar his total bitch. This is beyond distortion, this is beautiful madness at it's finest. At one point his guitar sounded like a flock of doves-I'm serious. And I'm up here, sitting on a chair, (Low to the ground like an ottoman, yet it has a back like a chair. Very comfortable) 3rd floor Terminal 5- not taping. I'm taking this whole album in right now strictly like a normal fan, we do have two sets after all. I'm under an influence alright-the heavy drug known as awesome music. I'm checking out the crowd, they're going nuts, slamming into each other and crowd surfing like crazy. I mean, it's a very tiny part of me, but part of me wanted to be down there smashing myself into strangers. But the sea of people doesn't end as I keep turning my head-this place is packed to the gills (and my “private” section has turned into a full house) One note, I know here in NYC we have some less than desirable fans in the crowd who throw stuff on stage. Usually empty beer cups- I know I've been hit with several beers in the pit at past shows. But tonight, it was hoodies exclusively being thrown. I hate to break the news to these people that although it's hot in the pit it's still cold outside. Keep glancing over to the rhythm section to see Murph is the only person in shorts, beating the kit with everything he had on ever song he drummed on. I could tell, he worked up quite a sweat. And Lou. Every time I looked in that direction his head was down, bass hanging real low and he was just creating earthquakes over there with his heavy bass licks. At 10:01 Murph and J dart off stage and the lights dim, revealing Lou Barlow alone, holding a Ukelele ready to play “Poledo” solo, adding that this is an "awkward end to an amazing record" before cranking out the oddity but goody.
This was advertised as two sets, and the bill fit the length of what you'd get out of two sets. But props to the band for not making us wait like 15 minutes in between. Frank Black (or is it Black Francis these days? I get them mixed up) former Pixies frontman was on stage by 10:06. He's here to "help out on one of the songs off the new record "I Bet on Sky" according to J. After they played the tune, Mr Black hands the gigantic hand drawn lyric sheet he had in front of him to a lucky member of the crowd, re-tunes his guitar and next thing you know you're hearing the lyric "hips like Cinderella" and we're jumping into "Tame". Dinosaur Jr and Frank Black doing “Tame”. Are you freaking serious?!?! Pass me a tissue, I just wet myself. it was so perfect, so right for this evening. So many joyous screams.
A great old tracked popped up “Alone”, a great new track from the new record popped up, “Watch The Corners” and here comes Johnny Marr at around 1045. Besides that crappy band with Morrissey, I loved Johnny Marr's stuff with Modest Mouse and he is a highly regarded guitar player. He's actually releasing his debut solo record later this year. He lended a hand on "The Wagon". Then they brought out a lyric sheet on a stand for J as they got into a song I didn't know. Thankfully we live in the 21st century and Twitter was buzzing within seconds chiming in with the song title: "The Boy with The Thorn in his Side", a Smiths cover. There was another guest vocalist up there(thanks to fellow fans comments, it was pointed out to me that it was  Kevin Drew from Broken Social Scene) .At least it wasn't Morrissey. Dale Crover(of the Melvins) was out there drumming on the Smiths cover with them. Al Cisneros (known for his work in Sleep and OM) was on and off stage throughout the evening as well as Kurt Vile. Don Fleming(used to be in a band called Gumball) came on stage to cover a song by the band Iron Cross called “Crucified For Your Sins”. Your a typical hard rocking DC punk rock anthem to perk up the pit as some start to sober up. It was intense.
And at 11:09 Kim Gordon hops on stage. The sexist 59 year old chick I've ever seen, since her recent divorce with Thurston Moore (in turn, putting all things Sonic Youth on indefinite hiatus) Kim spends these days playing in an experimental noise rock duo with Bill Nace called Body/Head. Surprised Kim's lungs didn't come flying out of her chest during "Don't".
 That one that requires screaming multiplied by a million. I hated when the band played this song last year(Review of that show here) because they let some fan sing the vocal and he kept slamming the microphone down and had an annoying scream. Kim was awesome, I just wish there was some better lighting in there for me to grab a better picture of her. Well, the lighting was good, but the shine from the drum set was messing with my camera. Everybody ducked off stage at 11:19
They came back out not long after. You know, there was one kid I saw outside wearing a Replacements tee shirt. At the time I saw it I said to myself “Sweet..the Replacements”. That must've been my spider senses tingling, because out for the encore on bass is none other than Tommy Stinson from the Replacements! Tommy also plays in the fake Guns N' Roses band that Axl Rose tours with these days. And there's my buddy John Petkovic (see Mike Watt & Friends 05/02/12) on vocals-and they're playing The Stooges! “TV Eye”. The pit was chaos once again. I had read reviews claiming Fred Arminsen was on stage at one point and I had to look back at my pictures a day later and notice that he is in fact drumming on "TV Eye".  I was  having such a good time I missed the Portlandia star. “Start Choppin” followed and then our night ended with “Freak Scene”. The house music came on slightly after 11:30.
 Dinosaur Jr never disappoint, but that my friends was something for the ages. I've placed a picture of the set list below.  Enjoy the videos! Late.
NYCTaper has a great capture of this show available for download. You can click this link here to check out all the audio goodies