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Soundgarden revisits ‘Superunknown’ Foster the people makes triumphant return to SXSW

AUSTIN, Texas, March 14, (AP): Soundgarden planed to play its breakthrough album “Superunknown” front to back for the first time during the iTunes Festival at South By Southwest. There’s just one problem.
“To be honest, we haven’t actually really done it yet,” singer-guitarist Chris Cornell said about six hours before set time. “We’re rehearsing it, but rehearsals are different. I think we did try to play it in order the other day, but then we’d stop on a song and sort of go through the different parts of it, and play it over again. So actually just going through the whole set without stopping, we’ve never done.” The archetypal Seattle grunge band is making its first appearance at the annual music festival and conference to launch its 20th anniversary celebration of “Superunknown,” the multiplatinum album that pushed Soundgarden to an elite level after its March 8, 1994, release.

The group will release an expanded edition of the album on June 3 and plans a world tour in support. The album debuted at No. 1, sold 5 million copies in the US alone on the strength of hits like “Black Hole Sun,” ‘’Fell on Black Days” and “Spoonman” and earned the band two Grammy Awards. It also changed everything for members Cornell, Kim Thayil, Matt Cameron and Ben Shepherd, and left them with a lot to process. They suddenly found themselves playing arenas all over the world and living in a realm recently occupied by hair metal bands.

“I can’t say that it was not ultimately a great thing, but it was mixed blessings in a lot of ways,” Cornell said. “And some of it was just the self-conscious nature of just being a group of musicians mostly from the post-punk indie scene that are now commercial, kind of almost middle of the road. ... Does that make us Poison or Whitesnake or are we The Who? It was confusing and you’re at an age where that stuff kind of seems like it still maybe matters. There was a lot of that: ‘Did we do something wrong?’”

Meanwhile, the guys in Foster the People know something about contrasts.
The Los Angeles trio made its first trip to South By Southwest four years ago, playing for basically no one. This year the group is one of the marquee acts at the annual conference and music festival and on Friday night were to headline the yearly free concert series that can draw more than 10,000 people.
“This is kind of where we got discovered, and that was our first trip as a band — leaving the state, getting a van,” singer Mark Foster said of the 2010 trip. “It was like our first tour, driving to Austin. We played shows at 9 in the morning.”
“For three people,” bass player Cubbie Fink said.
“We played shows on the outskirts of the city at like a weird garage, like a graveyard for mechanical errors,” Foster said.
The gig is another perk the band has earned thanks to the hit “Pumped Up Kicks,” an earworm of a song that was inescapable for much of 2011 into 2012. Foster attended Damon Albarn’s show at Stubb’s on Wednesday night and said he still vividly remembers thinking the 2,000 capacity venue was huge.
“It’s really odd,” he said Thursday. “It’s like being a little kid and, like, you remember things being so much bigger than they actually were. But it really only was a couple of years ago. It wasn’t that long ago, but things have changed.”

The band draws its headlining show at Butler Park on the eve of releasing its second album, “Supermodel,” next week. The LP has a dream-pop feel and will come as something of a surprise to fans. There’s no sign the band, which also includes drummer Mark Pontius, is chasing another hit.
“Kicks” let the band tour the world and helped underwrite a trip Foster took to North Africa and the Middle East that was influential for the framework of the new album.
“It’s been cool to take our music into these places and share something that we love and create an environment that’s communal,” Fink said. “Music is a very communal thing, and it’s been cool to see how different cultures have resonated with our music. It’s been an amazing process.”
IN related story, Lady Gaga kicked off 24 hours in the spotlight at South By Southwest in typically memorable fashion.

The pop provocateur began her appearance at Stubb’s BBQ on Thursday night during the annual music festival and conference by roasting herself on a spit like a gutted pig as her dancers basted her with barbecue brushes — and then things got really weird.
Part S&M sex club homage, part affirmational session, the show sponsored by Doritos to benefit her Born This Way Foundation included moments meant to provoke and others meant to inspire.
Gaga began the evening by taping a segment on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in which she wore a puffy white dress complete with a huge hat that mostly obscured her face. By the time she hit Stubb’s a little after 10, she’d stripped down to a black bikini on an unusually chilly night at the outdoor venue and wore long blonde dreadlock extensions. She’ll finish her moment at SXSW on Friday morning when she’s set to give the conference’s keynote speech.

Gaga’s set began with an attractive woman eating barbecued sausages in a provocative manner. Soon after completing the smoked meats portion of her hourlong show, Gaga invited friend Millie Brown on stage to assist on “Swine.” Brown, a “vomit painter,” proceeded to drink a full bottle of neon green liquid before forcing herself to throw up on the singer as she played drums. The pair then climbed aboard a mechanical bull-like pig equipped with a ball gag and a keyboard. Gaga straddled Brown atop the pig and played the keys as they bucked in circles. Brown then painted Gaga with a black liquid that stained the singer’s skin throughout the performance.

The entire show wasn’t meant to titillate, however. There were moments aimed at inspiration. “I love my fans because they always let me be myself and they don’t care what anybody says,” Gaga told the crowd. A little while later she set up her somber song “Dope” with a self-reflective moment. “It’s so much easier to be yourself than it is to be somebody else,” she told the crowd as she played melancholy notes on the piano. “Because then you have to pretend to be someone else and like things that you don’t like and do stuff that you don’t want to do.”


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