Other than perhaps Guns N’ Roses, few current rock groups routinely test the patience of their fans more than Stone Temple Pilots. I’m not going to call out any one band member as being to blame for this, but I can tell you that his name rhymes with Scott Weiland.
As the capacity crowd last night at the PNC Bank Arts Center waited for what seemed like forever (and actually turned out to be about 90 minutes) for STP to emerge after supporting band Filter ended their set at 9 p.m., I half-expected an announcement that Weiland was in fact either arrested, en route to the hospital, or dead and that the show was canceled.
Alas, Weiland and bandmates Robert DeLeo, Dean DeLeo, and Eric Kretz did finally take the stage, and the growing chorus of boos quickly turned to roaring approval. Weiland offered a brief apology and STP launched into “Big Empty”.
From there, it was a basically a revue featuring some of the greatest hard rock of the ’90s, delivered with power and conviction. The only weak link in what was otherwise an excellent performance was the aforementioned lead singer. Pretty early on, it was obvious that Weiland was not only off his game, he wasn’t even on this planet. He seemed to have trouble moving, he mumbled and/or missed lyrics, and the less said about his crowd interaction the better.
But even with a lead singer running on half the cylinders, the rest of the band was on in a big way. The rhythm section of Kretz and Robert DeLeo laid a rock-solid foundation for Dean DeLeo, one of the great guitarists of the last 20 years. They seemed to propel the band and the show forward by sheer force of will and musical muscle. They were aided, thankfully, by an excellent sound mix and attractive visual presentation.
As for the setlist — hardcore fans may bristle at the lack of deep cuts (although many of the attendees acted as if they were hearing the face-melting “Coma”, from the criminally overlooked Shangri-La Dee Da, for the first time), but being that this was my first STP concert I had no complaints. OK, I would have peed my pants had they played “Army Ants” or “Seven Caged Tigers”, but that’s small potatoes.
A quick note about the opening acts – Ashes Divide was quite good (I got a bit of a Queensrÿche vibe from them, which is a compliment from me), and I’ll probably check out their stuff further. Filter went over very well with the crowd, and damn Richard Patrick has a killer set of pipes, but they’re not really my bag.
The bottom line is this: Once the annoying 90-minute wait was over, I had a blast. I know already from reading other reports that some people are pretty indignant over Weiland’s antics. Reports from earlier shows on the tour have been positive, and this may just be a slip-up on his part. I certainly hope so. I would recommend seeing them on this tour – just don’t blame me if things implode before they even get to your town (or during the concert).
- $13 for a Snapple and basket of chicken fingers (2) and very salty fries? What a ripoff! (I’ll take one of each, please.)
- What exactly was the point of trotting out radio personalities Opie & Anthony to introduce STP? Unless you’re a hardcore fan, their in-show references made as much sense as Weiland’s stories but were even less funny.
- I think at one point Weiland tried to tell a story that was supposed to bring up the DeLeo brothers’ local ties (the two were born in Glen Ridge, NJ and grew up in Point Pleasant Beach, about 25 miles south of the arena on the New Jersey Parkway), but Robert DeLeo got tired of his rambling, cut him off, and talked about it himself.
- Richard Patrick dedicated one of Filter’s songs to Army of Anyone (the band he was in with the DeLeo brothers a few years ago), which led to a brief stage appearance by Dean DeLeo.
- As thousands of concert-goers made their way back the parking lot and overwhelmed one particularly flustered Arts Center employee with a vest and glow cone, I was reminded of the scene in Animal House when Kevin Bacon’s character gets trampled (“Remain calm! All is well!”). It put an amusing capper on the evening.
“Big Bang Baby”
“Lady Picture Show”
“Interstate Love Song”
“Sex Type Thing”
“Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart”
“For the Love of Money” (partial O’Jays cover, instrumental)
“Dead & Bloated”
“Wet My Bed”