Remembering Soundgarden's Jawdropping 1989 Cabaret Metro Concert

I had never really seen (or heard) anything quite like it.

February 22, 2018
Chris Cornell & Kim Thayill of Soundgarden

Jason L Nelson/AdMedia


Man, when they start dying and they’re younger than me, that hits kind of a hard to imagine place, you know? To my mind, Chris Cornell was rare air in the rock world. Cool dude, cool hair, badass songs coming from a place I didn’t quite recognize. “Full On Kevin’s Mom”? Ok. I’m with ya. I think.

Doesn’t matter. The way he sang the song was enough for me and that went for everything else on Louder Than Love, too. It was late summer 1989 that WXRT started playing “Loud Love”, the first single from that September’s full Louder Than Love album. We rocked pretty hard back then especially late at night.

But, slipping something that was as metal-edged as “Loud Love”? Damn, I’ve had some fine times being a disc jockey at this joint. My late buddy Ken Krause went to high school with both Soundgarden guitarist Kim Thayil and bassist Hiro Yamamoto.

Apparently, they used to ditch class at Rich East and listen to Devo in Kim’s basement. That also makes you a cool dude in my book.

So, when Soundgarden hit Cabaret Metro that October, we were there in a big way. Was it a life changing gig for me? In a way. I remember my jaw hanging open at the power that blasted from the stage.

I had never really seen (or heard) anything quite like it. Hiro was stage left laying down that original fat ‘Garden bottom (Louder Than Love would be his last full side with the band), Matt Cameron was already showing signs of being the best drummer in the biz and Thayil stood stock still stage right laying out these seismic riffs. And, all of them watching Cornell strut and flail and wail and make every person in the room wish they were in a band, too.

Really, what it did for me was remind me of latent love for the ROCK and I’ve haven’t turned back since. If I had more time I’d tell you about often grabbing my soon to be wife Charlene and hitting the Kennedy towards O’Hare and back again just to listen to Louder Than Love end to end (and loud as f*C$)in my ’87 Honda Civic. Damn good times. But I gotta go.

I’ll leave you with this; Chris Cornell was my idea of what a lead vocalist should be. I don’t say this often about many musicians but his death leaves a huge hole in the rock world and my heart, too. RIP, man. Thanks for taking me places both forward and back.