If music fandom is measured by the number of times people have seen their favorite band live, then Matt Reeder is a lousy Soundgarden fan. He owns 250 bootlegs, all the band's official releases (including a Superunknown CD-ROM), a binder's worth of press clippings, a rare European tour shirt worth $100—and exactly one ticket stub from a concert he actually attended, at Washington's Gorge Amphitheater in July 2011.
In the years between then and the bandâs 2010 reunion, the 32-year-old, who teaches French at Portland Community College, has thoroughly atoned for those blown opportunities. In 1999, Reeder started the Soundgarden Live Guide (soundgardenliveguide.com), an online resource dedicated to cataloging, in great detail, every concert the band has ever played. And that, it turns out, is a greater act of tribute than just being another flannel-clad longhair in the crowd. Although Soundgarden is among the biggest bands of its generation, Reeder says it is woefully under-documented as a live act. His site isnât just the most exhaustive of its kindâitâs the only one. It hasnât gone unnoticed, either: Guitarist Kim Thayil once referenced the guide in an interview, Reeder says.
This week, Soundgarden comes to Portland for the first time since April 16, 1992, when it performed at the Fox Theater (a show for which there is no known recording or set list). And this time, Reeder is not missing out.
WW: How did you first get into Soundgarden?
Matt Reeder: I remember listening to KNRK 94.7 a lot when I was first getting into rock music. When I got some money for eighth-grade graduation, I went out and bought Superunknown and Nevermind. Many times I wish I were, like, five years older so that I could have really seen those bands back in the day. I mean, I was 13 when Kurt [Cobain] died, and even though I was a huge fan of Soundgarden from 1994 on, I never saw them.
How did it end up that youâve seen Soundgarden only once?
Well, I was a total loser in high school and didnât go to shows at all. So when Soundgarden came through in 1996, I really wanted to go, and it just didnât happen for some reason or another. Donât ever miss a concert if you really want to goâI wish somebody would have told me that when I was 15.
Is there a holy grail of Soundgarden bootlegs?
There are so many shows that have never seen the light of day. The Soundgarden bootleg community just isnât on the same level as that of their peers. I mean, there are recordings out there of basically every show Pearl Jam has played since 1993. We have recordings of maybe 20 percent of the shows Soundgarden played before the breakup.
What have you learned about Soundgarden that the casual fan is unaware of?
Who else would have the balls to cover [Spinal Tapâs] âBig Bottomâ?
Whatâs your favorite Soundgarden song?
âHead Down.â I was 13 when Superunknown came out, and I really didnât get what they were trying to do with that song at all. It was never my favorite until I heard a live version when I first started collecting bootlegs. It almost instantly became my favorite Soundgarden song, and it has remained so ever since.
Tell me about that one show you attended.
I think I was numb the first few songs and spent most of the show just watching with my eyes bugged and my mouth hanging open. I mean, I never thought Iâd ever have the opportunity to see them, so it was a surreal experience for me. Iâm really looking forward to seeing them in Portland and Seattle on this tour. Those three days are going to be a dream come true.
SEE IT: Soundgarden plays Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, 1037 SW Broadway, on Wednesday, Feb. 6. 8 pm. $70.50. All ages.
When Matt met Soundgarden, July 30, 2011:
When Soundgarden last played Portland: Ad and listing in WW, April 16, 1992, Vol. 18, #25.