A couple Sundays ago, I got to see a concert put on by one of the most recognizable voices in grunge rock. Chris Cornell (Temple of the Dog, Soundgarden, Audioslave) brought his Higher Truth tour to the Palace Theater in Waterbury, CT. This all-acoustic show was absolutely incredible; full of great music, storytelling, and laughter.
The Palace Theater
I haven’t had much of an opportunity to visit the Palace Theater prior to this show. When you grow up in Hartford County, you’re either taken to the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts or Hartford Stage with your school. Boy – I missed out. The Palace Theater is gorgeous! While it is a smaller venue overall, the theater is full of beautiful artwork and gold detailing wherever you look. The marble stairs and red carpeting add to the elegance, and make you feel a little like royalty. As I settled in to my seat, I took in my surroundings and thought, “This is a great venue for a show.”
The opener for this show was Fantastic Negrito, an incredibly talented musician! Negrito is known for winning the NPR Tiny Desk Concert Contest, which isn’t surprising. His soulful voice is captivating and keeps you engaged, and his lyrics make you think. Negrito’s most well-known song, “Lost in a Crowd” speaks to the isolation that people experience even when they’re surrounded by others.
One of the other things about Fantastic Negrito is that he is genuinely funny. He doesn’t just introduce songs, he tells stories with fantastic punchlines! I don’t entirely remember all the intros at this point (it is two weeks later, after all), but I can say that the audience was laughing a LOT. If you get the chance to see him in concert, you won’t be disappointed!
The “Let’s Go!” counter is at…
Concerts can bring out a whole host of characters, depending on the show and the venue (See “Nickelback Guy” in “Your Light Shines Brighter“). The Higher Truth tour was no different. The crowd was quite diverse; around me sat teenagers, young adults, and even parents! But there was one particular individual who stood out for all the wrong reasons. I’ll call him “Let’s Go Guy”. Let’s Go Guy came to the theater particularly inebriated, and felt that he could increase the pace of the concert by yelling “Let’s go!” every fifteen minutes or so. His buddies were trying to get him to relax, but he kept at it. Being two rows below Let’s Go Guy, I couldn’t help but bear witness to his drunken antics. I ended up turning it into a game just to see how long he was going to keep yelling. By the end of the show, my personal “Let’s Go!” counter stood at 8 times. After the last “Let’s Go!”, his yelling evolved into jibberish that nobody in my section could understand. Needless to say, he probably doesn’t remember much of the concert.
Chris Cornell started around nine that night, and brought the audience on a (close to) three-hour journey through his musical career. His set covered songs from his time in Temple of the Dog to his solo material, as well as a few well-chosen cover songs. Similar to Fantastic Negrito, Cornell also introduced his songs with stories. Many of them explained the meaning behind a song or provided a personal anecdote; for example, when Cornell was initially going to cover the song “One” by U2, he accidently stumbled upon the lyrics to “One” by Metallica. Therefore…this was the result:
Chris Cornell can also be humorous. Throughout the show, there were numerous fans who kept yelling for him to play their favorite songs (“Hunger Strike” and “Rusty Cage” being the most popular). He was pretty cool with them considering the frequency at which these requests were being made. He would say “Hang on, we’ll get there,” or “Wait for it.” Then, when someone requested a song for the umpteenth time, he came back with the best line of the night:
Congratulations – you win! ‘Songs Chris Cornell Wrote’ for $500, Trebek!
I was thoroughly impressed with the entire show, and recommend seeing this tour if you can. It is an experience that will leave you satisfied with what you saw and wanting to relive it again.