Flashback to January 25, 1990: Voivod join Soundgarden at The Chance in Poughkeepsie

A killer double-bill of Soundgarden and Voivod took place 31 years ago today on January 25, 1990 at The Chance in Poughkeepsie. Actually, it was a triple-bill, a band called The Big F opened, but there was some pretty intense fog. We got there just in time for Soundgarden and missed the openers.

In early 1990, Soundgarden was promoting their 1989 major-label debut, Louder Than Love; the one before it, Ultramega OK, had also been released that year. I’d first heard their single, “Flower,” when I was DJing at WCDB and it was awesome. I picked up anything I could find or taped the stuff.

Soundgarden c. 1990

This show was with Jason Everman on bass, who gave Soundgarden a more metal edge live. Everman had lots of headbanging, jumping around and flying hair, which you didn’t get with his mellow-predecessor Hiro, nor his (permanent) replacement, Ben Sheperd, who would come into the band in Summer 1990. Everman’s story is really interesting – he was the second guitarist in Nirvana around the time of Bleach, but only played live with them, and left long before Nevermind and widespread fame. He then joined his second legendary Seattle band, Soundgarden, in 1989 and played with them as bassist on most of the Louder Than Love tour [he’s also on the Louder Than Live video and promo CD, and some b-sides]. 

Everman was dismissed from Soundgarden a few months after this show, after that he played with a cool NJ band called Mind Funk, appearing on their 1992 Dropped record, again as guitarist. After that, he joined the service and I believe became a Navy SEAL or Special Forces and fought in Afghanistan and Iraq for many years. There’s a great New York Times magazine article about him which you can find online – the guy who was in Nirvana and Soundgarden before they became huge rock stars, and then became a Navy SEAL.

Anyways, Soundgarden.  They were incredible. They played some older songs like opener “Flower” and closed with “Beyond The Wheel” from Ultramega OK. They played a whole bunch of Louder Than Love stuff in between, plus a cover of Spinal Tap’s “Big Bottom,” totally kicked ass. Chris Cornell was in a quiet mood, there was little talk to the crowd, just flying hair, big down-tuned riffs and crushing heaviness. Soundgarden was amazing in those days. I saw them three times on this tour; this was the first.

It seems odd now that Quebec metallers Voivod headlined, but in early 1990 they were the bigger band – this was well before the Seattle explosion and alt-rock boom, long before “Black Hole Sun” and mainstream Soundgarden success. VV were promoting their Nothingface album at the time, easily my favorite Voivod record ever and one which has aged well. An incredible record, and they played most of it for today’s flashback, in 1990. I love their older, early Venom-ish stuff too, but they really didn’t play much of the older stuff at this gig – amazing show, amazing band. Soundgarden, as incredible as they were, did not blow Voivod away – a killer couple of bands, each as mighty as the other, a great diverse pairing.  All hail Voivod and Soundgarden.

Soundgarden setlist: Flower, Hands All Over, Gun, Loud Love, Get on the Snake, Big Dumb Sex, Full on Kevin’s Mom, I Awake, Big Bottom, Beyond the Wheel

Voivod setlist: The Unknown Knows, Nothingface, Tribal Convictions, X-Ray Mirror, Tornado, Pre-Ignition, Missing Sequences, Brain Scan, Into My Hypercube, Astronomy Domine, Inner Combustion, Ravenous Medicine

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eKpt_HSa24w

Original review by John Moore from BUZZ Magazine. Republished with permission.

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