Soundgarden came roaring back to life Tuesday at Patriot Center. (All photos by Kyle Gustafson/For The Washington Post)

Twenty-some years later, grunge is old.

Walking into the Patriot Center on Tuesday night to see a reunion concert by founding Seattle-scenesters, Soundgarden, one fan confided that his last visit to the arena was not to head-bang, but to bring his kids to see the Wiggles. Thirteen years after the band's break-up, its original fan base has given up moshing, taken out a mortgage, and mellowed out.

Soundgarden has not.

The Chris Cornell-fronted quartet, which reunited last year, performed its two-hour set at deafening volume, their instruments tuned so low that the strings on Ben Shepherd's bass seemed to flop around like limp spaghetti noodles.

The band dutifully delivered its cross-over hits — feel-bad lighter-wavers like "Black Hole Sun" and "Blow Up the Outside World" — but reveled in the smoggy stoner-rock of their deep cuts, drawing out knotty dirges like "Ugly Truth" and "Gun," both from 1989's "Louder Than Love." During the mid-'90s Soundgarden scored a fair share of radio singles, but its signature work is sludge rock — heavy metal approached with the simplicity and single-mindedness of punk.