I didn’t know what to do with Soundgarden at first. Of the Big 4 Grunge Bands from Seattle I was squarely in the Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Alice in Chains side of things. It’s not that I disliked Soundgarden by any means, but something held me back from truly embracing them as one of “My Bands”.

Weirdly it might have been Chris Cornell’s voice which gave me the most pause. It’s an extremely strange thing to admit considering he might have one of the best pure Rock voices from anyone of his era (or any era really). But there it was. While my other friends raved about Badmotorfinger, I went on listening to other things.

But apparently Chris Cornell and Soundgraden weren’t going to let me off the hook so easily. He first got me with the Singles Movie Soundtrack. Seasons, his solo contribution made me refocus a bit more on his vocal talent. And it hammered me as one of the real standout tracks from the album. Just this little beauty of a piece…

Next it was the Temple of the Dog record… through my love of Pearl Jam, he’d found another way to worm into my head with Hunger Strike. After I listened to the full piece, it was inevitable. Somewhere in there I added Badmotorfinger into the rotation in my car. It was this perfect level of heavy and rock, and whatever idiocy I’d had with Cornell’s voice was long since forgotten.

And then Superunknown came out… I heard Fell on Black Days, and it was completely over from there. How we managed to snag tickets to see them at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, I’ll never know for sure, but I am grateful for it. This band should have been selling out the arenas at that point. Yet, there we were in a pretty cozy venue where we could absorb ever ounce of energy from the band.

Down on the Upside… I’m going to say something odd, but I may actually like that album better than the others. I’m not saying it is a better record than Superunknown (or Badmotorfinger), but I find myself coming back to it again and again over the years. It may be that Black Hole Sun was overplayed on the radio where it went from this amazing track to something I didn’t really need to hear again. Down on the Upside never got the love of their previous albums, so maybe that was what I was embracing as well. With any band, I think we all want to be able to find the thing that we like that no one else does (or we like it more than they do). Regardless, in some ways I feel like this is the version of Soundgarden I always needed them to be. No matter what, I can pop that one in and never seem to get tired of it.

Then they broke up… just as it felt I had fully embraced them. Trying to cast my mind back to that time to remember how I felt about that… I think I was more annoyed than anything else. At the same time, I understood I’d only broken the surface with them, so even if there was nothing new to come, I still had older stuff to listen and learn. And when Matt Cameron joined Pearl Jam, that seemed like, well, if they were finally going to stop being the modern day Spinal Tap when it came to drummers, then at least some good came from it.

But again, Cornell wasn’t through with me. He decided merging with members of Rage Against the Machine to form Audioslave might just get my attention. The part of me who held out hope for a Soundgarden reunion was sated by this new band…

And then they broke up.

And got back together.

And broke up.

Maybe it didn’t happen quite that way, but it felt that way. Audioslave feels like a band that I really liked, but somehow managed to never actually get to see in person.

Then Cornell went on to do solo stuff, and I’d check in on him periodically. His version of One is so crazy that I’m not sure how you can sing the lyrics to Metallica’s version while playing the guitar for U2’s version. That’s a huge step up from patting your head and rubbing your belly at the same time.

Either way, that should have been it. Instead, Soundgarden miraclously reformed, put out a new record, and toured.

It was weird again. I think it caught me completely off-guard. Mentally I was in a good place with Soundgarden’s legacy, but maybe that was because I had come to them a little later than everyone else. For some reason I didn’t immediately go out and get King Animal. I’m not sure why exactly. Maybe I was worried about them trying to ape their own sound. Maybe I was thinking I was good with where they left off. It seems like long breaks from reforming bands don’t always go the way you might like.

And then they announced a tour and the Atlanta date was going to be at the Fox Theater again.  I wrote a little about the experience here.

Little did I know that only a few weeks later, Chris Cornell would be dead.


The first time I dealt with a band I liked having an unexpected death, it was Nirvana. Later on Alice In Chains and Stone Temple Pilots and Linkin Park were added to that (sadly) growing list. Sometimes the reaction was pure surprise. Other’s were less surprise and more a general sadness for what seemed like was inevitable due to their issues with drug abuse. I don’t mean to say it in such a matter of fact way… it is all very sad, but I never know how to react to those moments.

With Chris Cornell, more than anything, I think about what the world lost. The art that he was still making. Whether it was with a band or on his own. The power of his voice in both music and in life. He was a part of the soundtrack of my own life. Milestones which pile up over the years as I listened to his words over hundreds and thousands of listens. It’s the amazing power of music that is able to move us in ways we might never thought possible. Chris Cornell did that with everything I heard. And seven years after his death, I still wonder about a world with him still in it.


John McGuire is the writer of the sci-fi novel: The Echo Effect.

He is also the creator/author of the steampunk comic The Gilded Age. If you would like to purchase a copy, go here!

Click here to join John’s mailing list and receive preview chapters of upcoming novels, behind the scenes looks at new comics, and free short stories.

His other prose appears in The Dark That Follows, Hollow Empire, Tales from Vigilante City, Beyond the Gate, and Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows.

He can also be found at

A Tale of Two Concerts

So there are two big concert experiences (with regards to song choices):

One is play only your hits. Maybe you sprinkle in some of the old stuff, the deep tracks, but you’re playing the big songs and the newest songs from your latest album in order to support it.

The other option is when maybe this is a tour where you don’t have a new album to support. Maybe you don’t have to be beholden to a strict set list. Or perhaps you are working on a new album, but nowhere near close enough on most of the songs.

This is a case where the catalog really opens up and you can truly reach back and plat those songs older fans haven’t heard in a long time and newer fans have never heard in concert.

Last week I got a taste of both…

An aside – With Pearl Jam being my favorite band, the idea of a unique set list is not strange. In fact, with their shows I’m normally the asshole who wants to hear some random track 10 from one of the lesser known albums. I want the deep cuts more prominently than the more casual fan is not going to have heard or understand.

Night One: A Perfect Circle

This is a band situated firmly in my top 5 bands, but it’s been 13 years since I’ve been to see A Perfect Circle. Life, tour dates, and them not really existing for a good portion of a decade were all contributing factors. That time they were indoors, with people hanging from the ceiling, and other oddities that are somewhat commonplace when you’re dealing with a Maynard related band.

This time around they were at the Verizon Amphitheater in Alpharetta, Georgia, where after having been to only two shows, is fast becoming a household favorite. Great sound, relatively easy to get into the venue (getting out is a little more sketchy, but so is just about every other venue I’ve ever been to), and there is just something about an outdoor show as the sun goes down.

We arrived in time to hear one song from the opening band… which I didn’t catch the name of. I normally don’t mind trying to get in a little early just to catch those bands. So many shows over the years have introduced me to some solid music.

Our seats were about 7 rows behind the general admission orchestra area (which was probably about 10 rows deep if full). Around us were a handful of empty seats… probably another symptom of not putting out music in so long. Strangely, we were told repetitively that the band did not want any pictures taken. In 2004, that might have been something you could control with cameras not installed in every phone (maybe? I honestly can’t remember), but in 2017 you can’t really put that genie back in the bottle. Still, ushers did stop a few people, and I’ve read about others being asked to leave.

We’re rule followers, so no worries there.

The show itself was amazing. APC is one of those bands where I don’t have tracks I skip. As to their set list, I use my wife as the go-by, and she commented after the show she was surprised by how many songs she recognized. Overall, they played their hits, a couple of covers (John Lennon’s Imagine making an appearance – an always welcomed addition), and even sprinkled in a pair of new songs.

The only odd thing about the new songs was the placement of one of them to close out the show. Normally I’d think you’d want something to bring down the house – a song everyone knows and has been waiting for. Instead, we get a song that maybe a handful know and the rest just get to experience. Just an odd choice.

Though, I do think once I get to hear it enough, I have no doubt it will be a quality track to use in that capacity. It certainly had that feel.

Night Two: Soundgarden

Lollapalooza 1996 is the last time I’ve seen Soundgarden. Again, helped by the dissolution of the band for over a decade, I missed the tour they did with King Animal back in 2012/2013. And I might have missed this one had it not been for the venue.

The Fox Theater brings an assortment of memories for me beginning with seeing Top Gun there with my parents and being astounded by the audience interaction with the film. Catcalls during any of the numerous guys with their shirts off scenes, cheers whenever Tom Cruise did anything great, and more clapping when the movie ended. The Theater is topped off by seeing Pearl Jam back in 1994, which I’ve talked about here.

Yet, I’ve only seen one other band at The Fox and it happens to be Soundgarden over 20 years ago. Now here was a chance to see them again in the same venue… a no brainer.

We actually arrived early enough to see The Pretty Reckless open. Given XM Radio and the Octane channel, I recognized a couple of songs. Courtney mentioned actually wanting to download some of their stuff. I’ll be interested to see how the album fills out past the release songs.

As to Soundgarden, you couldn’t ask for a more different pair of shows. Where APC’s light effects were more colors and mood based, Soundgarden is a rock band with their influences spanning from arena rock bands to DIY punk rockers – so the lights were an assault at various times throughout the show. But the biggest difference was the song choice.

Apparently, their 1st full album was rereleased in the last couple of months. It makes for a perfect excuse to dust off those old school songs. And I gotta think if you are a fan from waaaay back in the day, your song bucket list managed to get a lot shorter as they opened with 3 straight songs from that era. Which is great… except I don’t own that record. I start with Badmotorfinger and continue from there.

Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the hell out of the show. They pretty much hit upon everything I’d have expected them to play, but it was a little unexpected.

Though there is nothing like hearing Fell on Black Days live. It’s my favorite song of theirs no matter what form it takes.


Two bands. Over 4 hours of live music. Great venues.

Extremely tired come Thursday morning.

Worth it.


John McGuire

John McGuire is the author of the supernatural thriller The Dark That Follows, the steampunk comic The Gilded Age, and the novella There’s Something About Mac through the Amazon Kindle Worlds program.

His second novel, Hollow Empire, is now complete. The first episode is now FREE!

He also has a short story in the Beyond the Gate anthology, which is free on most platforms!

And has two shorts in the Machina Obscurum – A Collection of Small Shadows anthology! Check it out!

He can also be found at