‘90s Seattle grunge legends Alice In Chains recently announced a double-headlining summer amphitheater tour alongside Breaking Benjamin and opening act Bush, including an August 11th stop at Camden’s Waterfront Music Pavilion. However, for those particularly dedicated fans (and those who prefer something a little more intimate than 25,000-capacity sheds), AIC guitarist Jerry Cantrell is just about to kick off more than a month worth of solo dates in, what are sure-to-be packed and sweaty, nightclubs, including an April 4th stop at Theatre of Living Arts. Jerry will be joined by an all-star band and playing some of his favorite Alice In Chains songs, in addition to tracks from Brighten, his third solo album and first in 19 years (and hopefully a few from the first two, as well). Brighten was released last October, the follow-up to 2002’s Degradation Trip. The album was co-produced by Tyler Bates, soundtrack composer and former Marilyn Manson guitarist, and features Greg Puciato (The Dillinger Escape Plan, the Black Queen, Killer Be Killed), Duff McKagan (Guns N’ Roses, Velvet Revolver, Loaded), and Gil Sharone (Stolen Babies, Team Sleep, The Dillinger Escape Plan). The tour should be a top priority for any fans of ‘90s alt rock and ‘70s rock riffs alike. However, if you need a reminder of the greatness of Mr. Cantrell, here are 4 + 3 amazing performances of his, to get you excited about his 4/3 show at the TLA… First 4 from the band that made him famous, with an additional 3 from his solo career…
With Alice In Chains…
- “No Excuses”
The first single from the first-ever EP to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard charts displayed a lighter side of Alice In Chains, one that perhaps only serious fans could have foreseen. The song – which has more than a passing nod to ‘80s jangle pop – chronicles the love that remained between Cantrell and original vocalist Layne Staley, even as the band began to unravel due to Staley’s heroin addiction. And while the song had few chances to be performed live with Staley, due to said unraveling, performances of the song from the reunited band, with new vocalist and longtime Cantrell collaborator William Duvall, speak to the legacy of the band quite beautifully.
- “Them Bones”
It’s no surprise that this song would seem to be Jerry’s favorite of AIC’s catalogue. It blends classic hard rock riffage with the ’90s alt rock aesthetic that the band themselves helped to establish. The song from the group’s landmark album (Dirt) would have been perfectly fit for the opening act on Aerosmith’s Rocks tour, or to help cap off a day’s worth of music from the likes of Dinosaur Jr., Fishbone, and Babes In Toyland… which it often did on Lollapalooza 1993.
- “Would” (MTV Unplugged)
Although the band understandably – and probably wisely – focused on their slower and slightly-more-delicate takes on grunge for their legendary MTV Unplugged performance, they opted to include this alternative metal classic as their set neared its climax. And while acoustic renditions can often take the sting out of hard rockers, even in this stripped form, this anthem of ‘90s angst that Cantrell penned about the heroin overdose of Mother Love Bone frontman Andrew Wood retains nearly all of the melancholy and potency that make it one of the band’s most celebrated tracks.
- “Queen of the Rodeo”
If you’ve ever wondered the exact point where outlaw country becomes meth Americana, it’s about a third of the way into this long-unreleased early number… and by two-thirds of the way through it’s in full-on honky-tonk hardcore territory. Although AIC’s most punk song is perhaps criminally un-PC by today’s standards, I (an angry teenage transvestite at the time of its release) always found it to be a hilariously vulgar, yet poignant commentary on American masculinity in the vein of a significantly less educated William S. Burroughs.
- “Anger Rising”
With Degradation Trip Cantrell took his classic sonic aesthetic responsible for so much of Alice In Chains’ legacy into the 21st century… both literally and figuratively. Although the first single sounds well in-place between Alice In Chains classics, it also rings of much of the aggressively fist-pumpable stoner rock that was dominating rock radio at the time.
- “Cut You In”.
Jerry’s first single from his first-ever solo album (Boggy Depot) seems to pick up right where the band’s previous, self-titled album left off. It’s sludgy, groovy, grungy, and kind of assholey, but in that way that legit rockers always make charming. It’s the kind of song meant for late-night drives home from a rock show, on your way to try to hit the beer store before closing time.
The title track of Cantrell’s latest album is apparently also his favorite. If you haven’t heard the song yet, which combines his affection for classic southern rock with that famous Seattle-based vocal swagger (which sounds as impressive as ever, more than three decades into his career), you’ll swear you actually have, as it could have easily come off of any number of Alice In Chains albums.
*Get your tickets here.