Category: Soundgarden

Live review: KROQ's Weenie Roast y Fiesta

Coldplay, Incubus, Soundgarden and more define a rock aesthetic.


What exactly does a rock band need -- and in what quantity -- to distinguish itself in today's exuberantly eclectic pop landscape?

Along with branded beach balls and remembrances of Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, that question seemed to fill the air Saturday at Irvine's Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, where KROQ-FM (106.7) presented its annual Weenie Roast y Fiesta. The daylong concert -- headlined by Coldplay, with performances by Incubus, the Offspring and an unannounced Soundgarden, among others -- offered several successful takes on defining a pop aesthetic, but little consensus on the matter.

Still, the Weenie Roast's variety suggested something more promising: that in "a Black Eyed Peas world," as one KROQ DJ put it, rockers are thinking hard about how to specialize their music. A big crowd response, when it occurred, seemed almost secondary to the effort involved.

PHOTOS: KROQ's Weenie Roast y Fiesta 2012

The sole international act on a main stage dominated by Southern Californians, Coldplay matched that geographical distinction with a show far more elaborate than any other band's. Last week, the English group played a sold-out three-night stand at the Hollywood Bowl, and to Irvine it brought a slightly pared version of that high-tech production, complete with lasers, pyrotechnics and heart-shaped confetti. And that was all during the first two songs.

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Elton John, Lady Gaga among pop stars snubbed in Oscar best song category

Click for photos of the top nominees

The consolation for Elton John, Lady Gaga, Mary J. Blige, Elvis Costello, Willie Nelson, Brad Paisley, Chris Cornell, Zooey Deschanel and other superstar pop, rock and country musicians who got snubbed in the best song Academy Award nominations announced Tuesday is that they’re in pretty stellar company.

With just two songs earning nominations —“Man or Muppet” from “The Muppets” and “Real in Rio” from “Rio” -- the list of also-rans includes a bounty of heavyweight performers and songwriters.

Yet they didn’t score enough points with Academy voters to make the final nomination list. Voters had 39 songs to sort through this year, for which they were asked to assign a score to each on a scale of 6 to 10 points, after viewing clips from each film that included the eligible song.

FULL COVERAGE: The Oscar nominees

Only songs that received an average of 8.25 points or more could be nominated, with a maximum of five songs in the category, and no more than two songs from the same film.

Among the songs that fell short of that score were two Elton John songs from “Gnomeo and Juliet”: “Love Builds a Garden” and his duet with Lady Gaga, “Hello Hello.” Mary J. Blige’s “Living Proof” from “The Help” and Elvis Costello’s “Sparkling Day” from “One Day” were under consideration, along with Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell’s “The Keeper” from “Machine Gun Preacher,” Deschanel’s “So Long” from “Winnie the Pooh” and Black Eyed Peas member’s “Hot Wings,” also from “Rio.”

One of the most powerful songs to appear in a movie last year was J. Ralph’s “Hell and Back,” sung by Willie Nelson. But because it appeared in a documentary, director Danfung Dennis’ “Hell and Back Again” about the war in Afghanistan, it was a longshot for a nomination.

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Live review: Soundgarden at the Forum

The band’s powerful, precise playing makes for a happy reunion tour.

Soundgarden's Chris Cornell at the Forum in 2011

There’s a funny story about Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil during the recording of the band’s 1994 album, “Superunknown.” Thayil was reportedly feeling uncomfortable in the recording studio’s sterile setting, and it showed in his playing. To better re-create the comfy living room where he worked out his band’s punishing, sludgy guitar riffs, he had his own couch moved into the studio’s live room. He nailed his riffs after that.

What’s the lesson here (besides that it was really fun being in a bestselling grunge band in the ‘90s)? Making art requires the right setting. And though the four members of Soundgarden (particularly Tarzan-howling singer Chris Cornell) had wandered into other, sometimes less successful projects and solo ventures since the band’s 1997 breakup, the band’s Friday night reunion-tour set at the Forum in Inglewood, which featured L.A. band the Mars Volta opening, showed the power of their natural environment.

The band’s tour couldn’t have come at a better time. With a lack of groundbreaking new rock bands reaching mainstream viability, a ‘90s nostalgia-fest is in full swing. Soundgarden’s Seattle peers Nirvana is getting deep 20-year retrospectives, Pavement just wrapped up a lauded reunion jaunt and MTV is bringing back “120 Minutes” and “Beavis and Butt-Head.”

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Soundgarden scores instant platinum status via Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock

Soundgarden on Guitar Hero On its first day out, Soundgarden's new album, "Telephantasm," has already scored a platinum award from the Recording Industry Assn of America, which hands out such distinctions.

It's not unheard of for bands to get gold or platinum awards before a single copy has been sold. That's because they're based on the number of copies of an album shipped into stores, not sold.

What's unusual about "Telephantasm" is that its platinum award is based on the 1 million discs that are included in packages for the video game Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock, released Tuesday at the same time as the album's 2-CD plus DVD deluxe edition. 

Isn't that cheating? Not quite, because the music discs technically have been shipped into stores. But more significantly, Soundgarden is getting an undisclosed licensing fee from the game's publisher, Activision Blizzard Inc.

The Seattle grunge band's promoters are billing the release as a "groundbreaking partnership" because it's the first time the RIAA has recognized a sale of "non-returnable units from a music label to a gaming company."

And to some in the embattled music industry, cold, hard cash can be, in Soundgarden's words, "louder than love."

-- Alex Pham

Photo: Soundgarden's "Black Rain" as played on Guitar Hero: Warriors of Rock. Credit: Activision.


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