Stone Temple Pilots performed Tuesday night at Pier Six Pavilion. Frequent Midnight Sun contributor Jeremy Trucker reviews the show, which officially kicked off the regional summer concert season. An earlier version of this review is here.
One of the biggest draws for concert-goers at a Stone Temple Pilots show is seeing in what type of condition front-man Scott Weiland in in when he takes the stage.
From the start of STP's set opener “Crackerman,” it was clear Weiland was ready to play to the crowd of nearly 3,000 who came to see the grunge holdouts open the concert season at Pier Six Pavilion.
The band's 90-minute, 17-song set covered all of the bases, including five songs from their 1992 debut album, "Core." Despite a few longer-than-necessary song breaks, the band, led by Weiland's charisma and trademark deep vocals as well as the Deleo brothers' guitar work, had the crowd at its feet for the duration of the evening.
The hit-laden show was heavy on the band's early catalog, with only a couple of songs from their eponymous 2010 post-reunion album.
The band seemed game to play the classics, and the foursome appeared in unison following a two-song encore to thank the chanting crowd of supporters, most of whom were there to relive their 90s-era youth.
If Tuesday night's set is any indication, a healthy Stone Temple Pilots have the chops and the fan base to play the amphitheater circuit for years to come, with or without new material.
Pier Six's promoters seem to expand the calendar of shows on the waterfront each season, and opening 2011 with a Tuesday night show in April was surely a calculated risk. As luck would have it, the evening was clear and warm, surely bringing a significant number of walk-up sales to the venue.
Of course, booking a band that has been playing much larger venues since their 2008 reunion helps as well. The relative intimacy of Pier Six brought the band and audience closer together. And though the acoustics are not top-notch, the Deleo brothers' extended power chords coupled with Weiland's elongated-vowels (“Caaaaan youuuuuu seeeeee”) help distinguish the songs through a muddled mix.
The show got underway around 9:15 p.m., with a fit and trim-looking Weiland leading the group with their classic lineup intact. Wearing all black with a maroon scarf and sporting his signature sunglasses and megaphone, Weiland swayed and occasionally pirouetted his way through most of the show. If he was in any way road-weary, he wasn't showing it on this evening.
In fact, the entire band, now all well into their 40s, were fit and locked in. My guess is the only stimulant on the tour bus is Vitaminwater.
Following the third song of the evening, “Vaseline,” STP played four songs that constitute the weakest part of their current show, including the single from their latest album, “Between the Lines” (It's about cocaine! Get it?!) and a few lesser-known tracks. The port-a-potty lines swelled during this stretch.
Fans were back to the sing-along by the time the band pulled out “Big Empty,” a huge hit from 1994's "The Crow" soundtrack. Monster hits “Plush,” “Interstate Love Song,” and a megaphone-assisted “Dead and Bloated” were also crowd favorites.
Bands strongly identified with a particular era have a built-in audience if they are willing to play to their fans' radio-driven interests. Summer stage mainstays like Chicago, Journey, and Earth, Wind & Fire make brisk business touring the country each summer by giving their fans the hits that remind them of yesteryear. The last 90s band I saw at Pier Six, Counting Crows, seemed unwilling to go that route.
Adam Duritz flat out refuses to play “Mr. Jones,” his biggest hit and the reason he can sleep past noon everyday for the rest of his life.
STP, always a band criticized for commercializing the “alternative” sound, are one of the few 90s bands with the goods and the apparent willingness to deliver their standards to the people. If they can stay healthy and satisfied to put their payday singles upfront with only a few unidentifiable deep cuts or new songs to slow down the proceedings, they will have a happy audience of late Gen Xers and early Gen Yers ready to plunk down $75 and their blankets each time they come around.
Set highlights, in order:
“Vaseline” “Between The Lines” (first single off their latest)
“Dancing Days” (Led Zeppelin cover)
“Interstate Love Song”
Encore, “Dead and Bloated"
“Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart”
Jay Trucker is a frequent contributor to Midnight Sun. He teaches at the Community College of Baltimore County in Dundalk and blogs occasionally at WNST.net. He last reviewed Lil Wayne and Nicki Minaj's show at 1st Mariner Arena. Erik Maza edited this post.
Photo: Stone Temple Pilots performing Tuesday (Pier Six Facebook)