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Soundgarden and the Mars Volta at UIC Pavilion | Concert preview

Chris Cornell and co. bring the grunge heavyweight back to the stage.


Chicago has been ground zero for Soundgarden fans over the last year. Not only did the Seattle stalwart stage its reunion here, it gave us two gigs in less than a week, previewing a headlining Lolla gig with an intimate warm-up gig at the Vic. Frontman Chris Cornell passed through the same room again this past spring.

The singer’s made some questionable moves as a solo artist. Which is what makes it such a thrill to see him back in front of this grunge warhorse. Hearing him howl “I’m gonna break my rusty cage and run” in a banshee’s register simply wipes the slate clean. It’s as if Audioslave never happened, let alone that ill-fated Timbaland collabo. Cornell even looks younger, his jet-black locks flapping in the metallic maelstrom whipped up by his bandmates.

This monthlong tour punctuates studio sessions for a follow-up to 1996’s Down on the Upside. With luck, the band will preview a tune or two.

An opening set from the Mars Volta is perfect for a couple of reasons. Not only will the prog powerhouse warm up early attendees with its blistering Santana-meets-Rush vamps, but it’s a chance to see a group known for indulgent three-hour shows whittle down its set into tidy sitcom length.

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