(3 out of 5)
It’s easy to forget sometimes, but Soundgarden was once a vital and exciting band. Between the nausea caused by Chris Cornell’s ill-advised solo career and the numbing sensation that came from having same two SG songs beaten into your head by alt-rock radio over the past decade, it’s no wonder that the reality of Soundgarden’s strengths have faded from focus. And to be clear, Soundgarden’s strengths flowed solely from their power as a live band. This album comes from the band’s later period – specifically, some West Coast shows on their 1996 tour – but even though they were careening toward dissolution, it’s still impressive how mighty the band sounds at this point. Even songs that have now been overplayed to the point of being neutered – namely “Outshined” and “Black Hole Sun” – bellow from the stage with an intensity that instantly reminds you why you (or your older brother…or your dad) used to care about Soundgarden. Although a nine-minute version of “Slaves & Bulldozers” is ill-advised at best, the rest of the album is a tightly-sequenced monster that proves that, even up until the end, Soundgarden was a force to be reckoned with on stage.