Concert Review: Stone Temple Pilots 5.20.08

Scott Weiland’s first trip back to his hometown with longtime band STP after a 6-year hiatus. This review is a little interesting to me because at this point I was still a supermegafan. In the next couple years I became a little further disillusioned and disappointed about Weiland’s willingness and ability to stay sober. I would see them twice after this. In 2010 at Post Gazette Pavilion in Burgettstown, a few days after Weiland embarrassingly fell off the stage during a live show, he was barely coherent between songs. In 2011, STP returned to Pittsburgh to play IC Light Amphitheatre (now the site of Highmark Stadium), and the set was considerably tighter, but the crowd felt small for what had once been a major mainstream rock act–far smaller than the crowd at Post Gazette one year earlier, or the one that filled the same venue to the brim to see Weiland with Velvet Revolver in 2005.

But even though I’d lost faith in Weiland’s ability to stay sober and commit himself to his music, I was still shocked and upset at his untimely death in December of last year. This was still a man who was literally one of my idols throughout a significant part of my teen years and early 20’s, and I will always be sorry that he never pulled it together for one more great album with his old bandmates. Addiction is a scary beast, and a tricky one. Weiland could have decided that he’d conquered heroin, only to become complacent in his usage of other equally destructive substances and behaviors. Only those closest to him will really know. Regardless, I personally found this letter penned by Weiland’s ex-wife, Mary Weiland, massively affecting. In our heroes and celebrities, I think we can sometimes forget that they are also people whom others depend on intimately.

Weiland’s story wound up being a sad one, but his tribulations are eminently relatable to anyone who has struggled personally with addiction issues, or had someone in their life who has. If his death helped anyone get clean, or to face their problems, as I’m sure it did, at least some good will come of it. That’s still a sad story, but would be one worth telling.

Stone Temple Pilots – Cleveland, OH. – State Theater – May 20, 2008

The tension was palpable. The Stone Temple Pilots were about to take the stage in front of lead singer Scott Weiland’s hometown crowd for their first full solo show since the fall of 2002. That tour nearly came to blows between Weiland and lead guitarist Dean DeLeo; the result of years of unresolved and drug-addled conflicts between the two.

Nearly six years later, the scene could not be more different. Shortly after revealing a possible Stone Temple Pilots reunion, Scott Weiland left the supergroup Velvet Revolver and announced a gigantic 65-date tour with the band he helped form in the mid-80’s after meeting Robert DeLeo.

So here we are, at State Theater, Cleveland’s answer to Heinz Hall. The crystal chandeliers and ornate walls seem bizarre for a hard rock concert, and so do the ancient ushers. On the other hand, STP was never quite normal, and the elaborate decor is strangely befitting of Scott Weiland’s glam-rock style.

Ashes Divide unexpectedly hits the stage at 7:30 for a surprise opening set. Lead singer Billy Howerdel puts in a serviceable performance, but he is overshadowed by his drummer and lead guitarist, who frequently drown out his voice. Their single “The Stone,” opened the show, but little of the rest of the set was very distinguishable except, perhaps, for “Stripped Away.” They leave the stage gracefully at about 8:10 to modest applause.

Tension continues to mount as Weiland predictably takes his time making his way out to the stage. Finally, at roughly 9:00 a piano intro begins. Drummer Eric Kretz walks out from stage right and climbs up to his drum set. Bassist Robert DeLeo follows to the left side of the stage, where a mic sits for him to croon backup vocals. Dean follows to stage right. At last, Weiland walks out in a dapper black suit and fedora, still-lit cigarette burning in his hand.

The piano intro leads into hit song “Big Empty.” Weiland leans on the microphone and sings like he’s home. A gigantic LED-light screen swirls in purple psychadelia, changing to a drive down a desert road as Weiland sings, “Time to take her home / her dizzy head is conscience laden”

The Pilots take on a few more hits before delighting fans with the rarely-performed “Silvergun Superman.” A few songs later, Weiland addresses the crowd, telling us that the band is about to launch into one of their favorites, which they wrote on tour with the Butthole Surfers. “Lounge Fly” was also the long-time theme of MTV News (back when they still played music).

Weiland frequently displayed the group’s renewed kinship, constantly leaning on his band mates during solos between his snake-like movements around the stage. He rarely sits still and it makes for a visually gripping performance. After performing “Crackerman,” from their first album, the band randomly breaks into a James Brown jam, after which Robert DeLeo declares, “This is part of the reason I love you.”

Seven more songs follow before the band leaves the stage at 10:15. Undeterred, no one in the crowd moves. After five minutes of chanting, the band walks back onstage and jumps into “Sin.” Following the song, Scott addresses the crowd: “Are you ready? Are you ready?” And they launch into hit song “Dead & Bloated.” Clearly, everyone in the crowd is singing at the top of their lungs.

STP leaves the crowd with “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart,” a song that has experienced growing popularity due to its presence on Guitar Hero II. The guitar solo is even better live. The four band members come together after the song to the front of the stage. Hands on each others shoulders, they take a bow for the booming crowd. They leave the stage, lights come on, and, as Cake put it, “The fans get up and they get out of town.”

Full Set list:
Big Empty
Wicked Garden
Big Bang Baby
Silvergun Superman
Lounge Fly
Lady Picture Show
Sour Girl
– random James Brown jam –
Interstate Love Song
Too Cool Queenie
All in the Suit That You Wear
Sex Type Thing

Dead & Bloated
Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s