Tuesday, February 22nd 2011
Shows: Stone Temple Pilots
No one expected the Stone Temple Pilots to reunite back in 2008, let alone actually release a new album last summer. But here we are, three years after the first reunion tour, and Antiquiet was there for the second show of the new tour.
Still supporting last year’s LP, the Stone Temple Pilots took the stage at the Winstar Casino in Thackerville, OK on Saturday at the time actually printed on the ticket (a first?). Without an opening band, Weiland & Co. were quickly off into a short hour and a half long hits-packed set, playing to the not quite capacity crowd in a giant casino on the Texas/Oklahoma border.
The show opened with the ridiculously powerful Crackerman from Core. The song is sizzles when played live; Dean’s guitar work sounded absolutely brutal and Robert and Eric more than capably held up the rhythm section. There’s the thing, at an STP show one can always expect to have a great backing band. But how about the vocals?
Scott Weiland has been through some shit, and his voice carries the battle scars. It’s no worse or better than it used to be, just different; More gravelly, more guttural and a bit rougher around the edges. At this show however, Scott was having a great night. No flubbed lyrics, no missed cues, and certainly no falling off stage or lip-synching (accusations).
Anyway, back to the show. Throughout the roughly 95 minute set, STP packed in most of their biggest hits (no Creep or Sour Girl, sadly) and sounded better than they have in years. I’ve seen them every year since 2008; perhaps catching them this early into a tour has something to do with it, but the guys sound more cohesive than they have in recent memory, less dependent on Scott’s issues and fully ready to breathe new life into their old hits.
Vasoline was the first track to really excite the crowd. Weiland slithered around the stage “dancing,” screaming the vocals out over the crowd while occasionally holding the mic out for them to sing along. The bass and drum work powered throughout the entire concert hall, while Dean’s guitar work (particularly the solo) pierced through the low end and reminded people while he was considered one of the most underrated guitarists of the 90s.
Only three songs from the new album were present on the night’s setlist: Between the Lines, Hickory Dichotomy and Huckleberry Crumble. Last time I saw the guys the album had not yet come out and the songs kind of stopped any momentum they had built up; this time they didn’t have that problem. Everyone seemed to be singing along to the Nirvana-esque Between the Lines, and the band seemed really proud to be playing their new music.
Of the three, Hickory Dichotomy sounds the best live, with Dean’s ridiculous slide guitar solo, Scott’s weird vocal runs and Robert’s simple but buoyant bassline all mixing to remind the crowd that the group still has the ability to pump out catchy, hook-filled rock tunes.
The setlist hasn’t changed much over the last few years, but the inclusion of a spectacular cover of Zeppelin’s Dancing Days was definitely a welcome addition. Scott’s vocal style really lends well to the song and while the band has performed it before, it definitely took the crowd by surprise. The song also let Eric Kretz have some of the spotlight as the song naturally highlights the rhythm section. He sounded great and seemed to be having a blast playing the song with his old band members.
The one-two punch of Plush and Interstate Love Song easily got the biggest reaction from the crowd. When the main riff for Plush started, hands immediately started making devil horns and fists, and the band was knee-deep in their signature song.
Plush sounded mostly like what anyone who owns Core remembers, but the brothers DeLeo have both added some transitions between riffs on their respective instruments, adding a bit of fresh air to one of the ’90s most overplayed songs.
As for conversation, Scott stayed quiet most of the night, only occasionally saying thanks to the crowd and letting the fans know what song was coming up next. At one point about halfway through the night, Scott did call out someone in the first few rows who had been flipping him off the entire night. Weiland simply asked him why he’d spend $85 coming to see a band only to flip off the singer, after which the drunk Southerner quickly changed his middle finger into a peace sign.
Although Dead and Bloated and Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart have been STP’s two encore tracks since they resumed touring in ’08, the two songs still remain one of the highlights of every show. Seeing Scott with a megaphone is one of the most iconic images from 90s rock, and it’s still great to see it happen live. Hearing every person in the crowd shout along with the opening lyric doesn’t hurt either.
Trippin’ had Scott moving more than he had all night, twirling, jumping, wrapping his arms around either DeLeo as they played their own part in the song. Dean once again played the hell out of his solo, all the while with Scott dancing behind him. I guess after a while one would learn to tune out Scott’s previously drug/alcohol induced dancing, so bonus points to the guys for learning how to do that. More bonus points to Scott for still dancing, even when sober.
If you are a fan, even a casual one, the Stone Temple Pilots are back and better than ever. Their last record was just decent, but the live show is capable (depending on Scott) of being one of the best out there. I happened to catch it on a great night, where everything seemed to go right for the band. Ticket prices are kind of high and the show is a little short, but if you have the cash and want a solid evening of rock, this is a pretty good bet.
Crackerman, Wicked Garden, Vasoline, Heaven & Hot Rods, Between the Lines, Hickory Dichotomy, Still Remains, Big Empty, Dancing Days (Zeppelin cover), Silvergun Superman, Plush, Interstate Love Song, Huckleberry Crumble, Down, Sex Type Thing, Dead and Bloated, Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart