Tad, Eleven, and Soundgarden

Tad, Eleven, and Soundgarden were the noisemakers in the Bender Arena at American University today. Tad Doyle and the boys opened with their "play for the hell of it" attitude seen in their studio releases! The crowd was pretty energetic and there was a lot of moshing. Most of their set was from Inhaler, with a couple from Salt Lick (I think---all their songs sounded familiar to me). One reviewer of their album said that this is probably the only band that has a frontman as heavy as their music. They weren't really closely knit, but again, they are good music for mindless moshing. They sound like a bad clone of Prong. I managed to get into them quite well, mainly because I was familiar with their stuff. They weren't as talented as Eleven, but managed to the get the crowd pretty worked up!

Eleven came next. And blew me away. As far as I know, they have only one album out---a self-titled one. They played most of their stuff from this album, except for the last song, which seemed like a medley of five tunes which I couldn't recognise. Presumably it's new stuff. In any case, they were definitely the most talented of the band. They were a lot tighter than Tad and their stuff sounded a lot like their album.

When I heard Eleven's album initially, I fell in love with it. I liked the fact that their music sounded raw and passionate and didn't seem to have much mixing done with it. They have the quality I admire most in a band: self-indulgence. This same characteristic was apparent in their show. I expected them to be bad live, but they played stuff almost the way it is in the album except for the improvisations on the guitar leads and that the organ stood out more.

Eleven is Alain Johannes on guitar and vocals (and he has a very distinctive and sometimes incredible voice!), Jack Irons on drums (who has tattoos all over his body and who mooned the audience during the show), and Natasha Shneider who does some vocals, and plays the organ and the left-handed bass. And these people are talented---if you ever liked early Prong (Beg to Differ), Nirvana's Bleach, and similar music, you'd like this. Check it out---every track on their album rocks!

"Why crash today when my spirit is higher?" The crowd didn't seem to get into them as much (I sang along to every song) but they made the whole concert worthwhile. Heck, I'd go to see them again!

An elaborate video, with pictures distinctly Floydian, played to a bass tune, announced the arrival of Soundgarden. I heard and saw the first few minutes and I thought "cool, they've transcended the small band image and we'll see something good", but I was being overly optimistic.

The name Soundgarden fits them well. They produce garden-variety sound. It's unbelievable---they really really sucked! This inspite ofthe fact that they were probably the tightly knit of all three bands (even though it sounded like Eleven had its act together better, it wasn't the case) and that they've definitely cleaned up their show: the video props are one indication; the drumming is pretty good and the synchronisation of the various instruments seems to be very carefully planned. However, that alone isn't enough.

During the show lead singer Chris Cornell said "We're gonna play a lot of stuff from the new album. We're gonna play and play until we get it right." I have some news for you, Cornell: you can play and play and you will still suck. Stripped off the studio, they sound very untalented and plain boring. I was yawning profusely and after about 45 minutes into their set, we decided to leave. No big loss there.

Any of you who said "the first two bands" sucked should go back and listen to the studio stuff from these guys. If you are really into passionate music as opposed to "alternate rock" (which is a trendy name for rock 'n' roll that hasn't achieved stardom yet), then check out Eleven!

All in all, it was quite a decent concert. If they come to your area, check it out. The tickets are reasonably inexpensive. I think I will go buy Soundgarden's new album. And use it as a frisbee.

Music ramblings || Ram Samudrala || me@ram.org || June 22, 1994