Stone Temple Pilots, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion September 19, 2010
For more images from the show, see our slideshow here.
It took a good hour past their stated stage time to get Stone Temple Pilots in front of the crowd at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion Sunday night.
But that hour in between vanished once lead singer Scott Weiland and company sauntered out around the time your late local news would be starting. They would turn in a perplexing and harrowing hour 75-minute set of their radio hits, some album nuggets, and a few new songs from this year's self-titled comeback album.
The evening began with San Francisco's leathery Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. The cultishly-beloved band was a strange choice as a tour opener but the value of having a band like this playing before STP shows a certain amount of moxie on someone in a corporate office's part.
For the already converted (like ourselves), BRMC - above - aren't such a hard sell. Their five-minute drone-y landscapes of jittery blues and psych candy are the norm for us now. Sunday's set, mostly drawing on this year's Beat the Devil's Tattoo, was an excellent primer for newbies and satisfied old-timers who have been there since their 2001 debut.
Opening with Tattoo's title track, BRMC let forth an hour of reverb and brackish snarl. The band played in front of black stage curtain, with their vintage amps and cabinets pressed against it. "Stop" came next, with co-leader Robert Levon Been making use of the array of pedals at his feet.
The band was either bathed in light or awash in strobes for most of their set, with great mood-hedging effect. "Ain't No Way" and it's harmonica stomp was delivered with sufficient raunch. "Weapon of Choice" received the night's best reaction, and its straightforward grit had fists pumping and hair whipping from the pit to the lawn. Its mother album, Baby 81, remains one of BRMC's most accessible.
Like we said, a good hour passed between BRMC's exit and the entry of Weiland and company. Our sources tell us that Weiland was still in transit to Texas when the gates opened. STP's last gig was Friday night in Tempe, Ariz., leaving the band a day off before Sunday's show.
Starting with "Crackerman," STP came rolling in fully loaded with DeLeo Brothers riffs, Eric Kretz's sturdy drumming and Weiland's signature slither. Out came his trusty bullhorn for the song's chorus, while guitarist Dean DeLeo unreeled the Core nugget.
A report about Sunday night cannot come without word on Weiland's condition onstage, in light of his lateness. He seemed off mentally, a little too meandering and talkative, bringing up his own past drug and alcohol abuse. At one point he did claim that he traded the hard stuff for boozing.
We can't say what was the exact story Sunday night, other than yes, he did seem a tad touched. This did nothing to alter his performance, though, with his trademark jigging and juking remaining intact throughout the night.
The new "Between The Lines" is a lot better than it probably should be for a comeback album's first single, with a sound that dips straight into STP's 1994 album Purple. "Big Empty," actually from Purple, received the night's loudest singalong.
Weiland simply couldn't screw it up, not with the whole place backing him. "Interstate Love Song" was the band at its most pop-friendly, and the hook still retains its viciousness 17 years on. Another track from this year's new album, "Huckleberry Crumble," has a whiff of Weiland's solo work, with a melody that takes a bite from Aerosmith's "Same Old Song and Dance."
Weiland introduced "Plush" by reminding everyone that in the beginning the band was looked at as a grunge band, when they were in fact a rock band. Along with "Jeremy" and "Smells Like Teen Spirit," it became a fixture in the pop-grunge pantheon, and it would take the band years to shake that sloppily attached grunge tag.
And that's been the curse of STP since 1992's Core. The band was unfairly tagged as grunge also-rans when, more than anything else, they were closer to '70s stars like Deep Purple, the Stones and David Bowie. Also, like it or not, Weiland is a true front man.
He's tardy, swarthy, carries a Lizard King complex, and he may imbibe so much that it has imploded the band a few times. STP came from a completely alien place no one could quite pin down, and they still confuse to this day.
Personal Bias: STP was one of the first bands that wasn't the Beatles or country we grasped onto while we were still in single digits, so in a sense Weiland and the band have grown up with us.
The Crowd: Graying grungers, shaved-headed MMA fellas, ridiculously salaciously-attired women of all ages, and one grandma who knew every lyric to every BRMC song.
Overheard in the Crowd: "This guy thinks he's Jack White," a reference to BRMC's Peter Hayes.
Random Notebook Dump: Creed's Scott Stapp stole just as much from Weiland as he did from Eddie Vedder, if not more.
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STP SET LIST
Crackerman Wicked Garden Heaven & Hotrods Between the Lines Hickory Dichotomy Big Empty Silvergun Superman Plush Interstate Love Song Huckleberry Crumble Down Sex Type Thing
Trippin' On a Hole In a Paper Heart