Buzzfest XXXI at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 11/02/2013

Buzzfest XXXI feat. Stone Temple Pilots, Chevelle, Cage the Elephant, 10 Years Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion November 2, 2013

Three songs into Stone Temple Pilots' headlining performance at Buzzfest XXXI Saturday night, guitarist Dean DeLeo began to play the signature riff behind 1994's "Vasoline," as cheers resonated throughout the amphitheater.

Chester Bennington was about to face his first true test as the group's new lead singer.

"Flies in the Vasoline we are/ Sometimes it blows my mind/ Keep getting stuck here all the time," he sang in what sounded like his best impression of a '90s-era vocalist. But then came his signature growl, which translated into an energetic reinterpretation of a grunge classic.

He continued, snarling, "It isn't you, isn't me/ Search for things that you can't see/ Going blind, out of reach/ Somewhere in the Vaseline."

When the song was over, the crowd roared their applause, and Bennington's face spread into a wide grin. Marijuana smoke wafted through the pavilion air overheard, and he took a deep breath. "It smells pretty good up here... Thanks, guys."

Building on the enthusiasm sparked during "Vasoline," STP continued into "Dead & Bloated," following with "Meatplow," "Silver Gun Superman," and "Big Empty" among others. They also peppered their set with a few new, as yet unrecorded songs. Much of the crowd shouted their approval and sang along, while others lost interest and walked out halfway through.

To be fair though, they may have just been tired from having been on-site for nearly 12 hours.

Bennington's trademark scream, which he's fine-tuned over the years as Linkin Park's lead vocalist, was present and accounted for; but his singing voice, which called for throatier vocals and more bass, fell flat about half of the time. The crowd seemed torn in their reception, but more people stuck around than than left. The jury as a whole, however, is still out.

Replacing Scott Weiland rather than disbanding will surely rub some longtime fans the wrong way. But bringing in young blood will also garner renewed interest. And let's not forget about the number of Linkin Park fans who otherwise would have never listened to STP... Their artistic merit may be in question, but they sure are going to sell a lot of albums.

And last we saw, Weiland seems to be having trouble getting his footing.

Review continues on the next page.

Before STP, Chevelle put on a characteristically strong performance on the main stage. High-energy, charismatic and as good if not better than they sound on their albums, the Chicago band's live show abounded with radio singles, heavy riffs and Pete Loeffler's instantly identifiable vocals: crisp and polished one second, intense and throat-tearing the next.

On the side stage, Cage the Elephant and 10 Years placated the crowd as fans fought for space in what is always a hectic area at every Buzzfest. 10 Years had fans singing along to the likes of "Wasteland" and "Fix Me," while Cage The Elephant offered an alternative to most of the day's entertainment, offering a more relaxed and easygoing sound for listeners' ears.

Personal Bias: I was curious how the STP show would turn out, and I'm still not sure what to think. Chevelle always puts on a great show too. This year's lineup was solid, and I only wish I could have gotten there earlier.

Overheard in the Crowd: "Play some Linkin Park songs!"

Random Notebook Dump: It's almost as difficult to get into the Pavilion as it is getting through TSA at the airport. How long before this place has metal detectors outside? And, most importantly, why the hell can't we bring blankets inside?


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