Sunday, March 28, 2010

Live Review: Stone Temple Pilots at Riviera Theater, Chicago 2010

Stone Temple Pilots | TAB

Riviera Theater - Chicago, IL
March 27, 2010

Dead and Bloated

I can't quite put my finger on why I never considered Stone Temple Pilots a great band. I know many of the songs, and even though it's more mainstream than my usual tastes, I can appreciate that they made good songs. I enjoyed Core when it came out, but they kept straying from rock and more into pop rock. It probably didn't help that many of my friends wrote them off as posers, trying to glom onto the alt-rock movement.

Scanning my ticket collection, I see that I first saw STP on 8.02.92 at The World on the Lollapalooza tour. Do you want to know why current-day Lolla sucks ass, besides the hipster trash who infect my lakefront each summer? It's the line up. Let's take a glance at some of the bands on the lineup back in '92: Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ministry, Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, Cypress Hill, Body Count, STP and Rage Against The Machine.  All in one day.  Kids today just don't know...

RHCP sucked, btw. God, do I hate that band.  Pearl Jam was humbled by their opening the mainstage, so Eddie actually spoke to the fans, this was before his mid-90s, too cool for the room attitude. Hometown heroes Ministry owned the mainstage. Nobody matched their energy and scary, out of control behavior. The only downside to their performance was that it wasn't as good as seeing them at say, the Metro -- where they'd have no security and only a chainlink fence from the floor to the ceiling in front of the stage that you could climb and then jump back into the crowd. Kids today just don't know...

But this isn't about reminiscing like an old guy in a rocking chair, this is about STP.  Back on that summer day, STP were like a fine tuned machine. Scott Weiland was/is an incredible frontman, a eclectic mix of Jagger and Axl Rose. His vocals were equally as impressive as his showmanship. They played a short set but it was fierce. I saw them on some package tour in 2000 (I think) and despite his rail thin frame and constant bouts with heroin, he still "brought it" on stage.

Fast forward to 2010, where STP has now reunited and a generous offer of free tickets allowed me to check out the band. The crowd was about what you'd expect considering STP's departure from hard rock and becoming more of a poppy band. So while that makes for an attractive crowd, it also makes for people who do absolutely nothing but stand there and stare. There's no movement, no energy, no excitement. Why not just stay home and stare at your iPod?  Upon entering the venue we saw large signs informing us that VH1 was there recording the concert for a future show. While hanging out at the bar, the openers went on.  They were TAB the band.  The bassist/singer and guitarist are Joe Perry's kids. That's the only reason why they had this spot. Fuck them, the band sucks.

While waiting, and trying to get more and more drunk in an effort to enjoy this concert, word spread that the band had walked off stage the previous night when Scott Weiland didn't just forget the lyrics during "Dead and Bloated," but began to sing some fucked up shit that made no sense.  I'd link the video, but Warner Music has been successful in having it taken down every time it's uploaded on YouTube. My hope was that a similar meltdown would occur tonight. 

Alas, it wasn't to be... The band came on early.  Weiland walked out wearing a Snuggie and had a little kid underneath. Kinda seemed a little Michael Jackson-ish to me. The first three songs were admittedly well performed. Weiland is compelling to watch, but the vocals these days are just brutal. At times he's off key, but mostly it's like he just doesn't give a fuck anymore. He goes through the motions and while the band sounds good, it's so empty and hollow.  That's not what live music is about. I want to see energy, emotion and a thrill in your eyes when you play YOUR songs.  And I have to say that I'm miserable at a concert when I'm stuck in the back...when I saw how mellow the crowd was, I easily made my way towards the front. Thinking, hoping, wishing that being close to "action" would make it more enjoyable.  No such luck.


Weiland fell three times during the show, and also ate spaghetti (WTF?) between songs. The new songs completely suck, and he was badly off key during one of them. "Plush" got all fucked up at the end when he forgot lyrics. Meh. He just doesn't have the hunger anymore. He's tepid on stage and at times has a deer in the headlights look to him. At no point did I ever get the feeling that this was being done for the love of the music. Instead, this is just a cash grab and attempt to pad the retirement fund.

You know what Saturday's show reminded me of? The really hot girl, who is stereotypically pretty but when you attempt to have a conversation with her, it's just vapid nothingness. Looks great, is a way to waste some time, isn't offensive, but you walk away with complete indifference.  That's what it's like to see STP in 2010.

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