The recent Sub Pop 20 festivities got me into a conversation with a friend about Kim Thayil.
When Soundgarden broke up, my first thought was “I’ll never see Matt Cameron play drums again, this makes me incredibly sad” (and we all know what happened there), and the second one was, “I’ll never see Kim play guitar again.” Yes, extreme, but it was sad (yes, Soundgarden fans could be sad).
This incredible link is to a story about the only time I saw Kim Thayil onstage post-SG. It was during the WTO riots in Seattle, downtown was effectively closed, but yet there was a show at the Showbox with Kim Thayil playing in a band with Jello Biafra and Krist Novoselic. I wasn’t going to go, I was going to go, I wasn’t going to go, and then someone on KEXP stated: “If you have somewhere to be downtown, you have a legitimate reason to be there, and the police cannot stop you from going there.” So I picked up the girlfriends and taking a long, roundabout way off of Capitol Hill, we went to the Showbox.
(I was trying to remember just now my reasons for the round-about-ness. If I’m remembering the evening right, we went north to the Ship Canal and then down Eastlake to Denny and then to Alaskan Way and came UP to the Showbox from the water. I have a vague memory of there being a restricted zone of some sort around the Convention Center, and also that there was a Sonics game at Key Arena that was being allowed to continue despite the riots, and figuring we would blend into that traffic.)
We parked on the street and ran to the club, which was half empty. There was a folk singer type of some sort. While I admired the protestors, and in my cranky old age would so be with them now, at the time I was just grateful to be gainfully employed and didn’t have the ability to take the time off work and go protest – I believe that some managers in groups at the Empire told people that if they happened to be “out sick” during the WTO, they would lose their jobs. Now I find that unquestionably lame on my part.
So the folksinger is singing about the WTO, and I guess if he had been good we would have felt differently, but he sucked, and we are there to see Kim Thayil, and we are just waiting for him to start singing about the spotted owls and the salmon next. (I have an email I wrote to friends somewhere, that I am going to go home and try to dig out.)
But next – Kim Thayil! With JELLO BIAFRA. And Krist Novoselic, in a moment he wasn’t in post-Nirvana pompous blowhard mode. It was incredible, and it was an incredible moment, because everyone there had to face the SPD to get there in some fashion, and made a choice to be there, in a shuttered dark desolate downtown Seattle. It was powerful and anarchic and beautiful.
I’m not sure, btw, that this was Novoselic’s combo per se, but he coughed up the video so I’ll give that to him. For me, the night was Kim’s. And it is stil a real tragedy in my mind that he no longer plays guitar on a regular basis.
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