Show day in Columbus started off gray, windy, and rainy, which somehow seemed appropriate.
As soon as I walked in the stadium and into the hallway outside the dressing room area, I was hit with a memory so strong it nearly took my breath away.
Alice In Chains played Rock On The Range with Soundgarden here in 2013, and I vividly remember running into Chris in this hallway and talking for a few minutes.
Every time I saw him over the last few years, just like that day, he would give me a big hug and ask me how I was doing, and we’d catch up for a bit.
I also remember exactly where I was one year ago today, as much as I don’t want to.
It’s been extremely hard to wrap my head around what happened a year ago, and every time I walked out in that hallway was another reminder.
The band knew this day was coming.
They knew they’d be here in Columbus.
And they knew the significance that being here in this place, on this date, would have.
It wasn’t the easiest show for a lot of reasons, mainly because Jerry was having technical issues all night.
I was standing behind the drum kit right before they went into Rooster, which is normally the last song of the set.
All four guys were huddled around Sean and I heard Jerry say “Let’s just get through it and get off!”
I knew they’d rehearsed and planned on ending the set with two Soundgarden songs, and I was hoping that the evening’s difficulties didn’t mean they were going to cut the show short and not do it.
Thankfully when Rooster ended they stayed onstage and launched into “Hunted Down”.
Whatever had been going on all night with Jerry’s guitars seemed to have gone away by this time, and they killed it.
As the closing notes faded on that song, Will’s tech brought his guitar out to him and they went into the next song, “Boot Camp”.
Boot Camp is not one of Soundgarden’s more popular songs, but the lyrics have some meaning to the guys and it seemed like the perfect song to play.
I’m not sure how many fans out in the crowd recognized it, but that wasn’t really the point.
I stood on the side of the stage filming, and as the song neared its end I noticed that our lighting director had spelled out CC and SG on the light walls, which I didn’t know he was going to do.
So that’s the point where I lost it and filmed the last minute through a viewfinder full of tears.
It was a rough day.
And it’s been a rough year.
We’ve all shared so much history with Soundgarden, and we were all fortunate to have shared a friendship with Chris.
I’ll miss him for the rest of my life, just like I miss Layne and Mike and so many other friends of ours that should still be here.
16 years ago we had an impromptu service for Layne with his family, friends, and members of Soundgarden, Heart, and Pearl Jam.
I remember being in a daze throughout that night, and not really being able to talk or even make sense of what was going on.
As the night wound down and people started to leave, I made my way outside and started walking to my car with tears clouding my eyes and my mind in a fog.
A voice called out from behind me, and I stopped and turned around, and it was Chris.
I can’t recall if he said anything else, but I remember walking back up the sidewalk to where he stood, and he just hugged me and we held onto each other for a minute.
That moment, and that hug, meant the world to me.
That’s the Chris I knew and loved.
It’s said that acceptance is the fifth stage of the five stages of grief.
I’ve come to accept what happened a year ago.
But just like Jerry said, I’ll never understand it, and I’ll never be okay with it.
As I was typing up the set list this afternoon, Sean told me not to print the names of the last two songs.
Instead he just had me print the word “Goodbye”.