Disclaimer: Photos taken from a hillside from two-plus football fields away.
Well, I suppose we should start at the beginning, so here you go: Stone Temple Pilots returned to the PNC Bank Arts Center and opened with an explosive rendition of “Crackerman.”
Two years ago, Stone Temple Pilots moseyed upon the amphitheater’s stage, well, Scott Weiland stumbled actually, more than an hour late for their Return of the Rock tour stop in Holmdel. The band’s tardiness prompted my friend to place a text message on the jumbo-tron that read “the rock missed the exit,” a play on the tour’s name. The crowd got a good laugh and eventually, Weiland yanked the needle out of his arm, or at least we speculated, long enough to lead the hard rocking four-piece out of the blackened depths of the back stage area and play a 90-minute set. The show ran well past the 11:00 p.m. curfew and cost the band a large sum of money. A couple of weeks later the reunion tour broke down and our accusations were confirmed. Scott Weiland’s fits of rambling and lack of a stage presence were drug induced, he was hooked on heroine…again.
After taking a year to get clean, Weiland and his Pilots were back at PNC and, cliche’ as it may sound, better than ever.
Dressed in the garb of smooth-jazz musicians, STP was anything but tranquil as Weiland, the field general, shimmied his torso to and fro, shouting hit songs into a microphone he constantly swung in a windmill fashion, while Erik Kretz detonated explosives on his drum heads, and the DeLeo brothers ripped the night to shreds, their sharp, glistening guitar and bass play acting like strategically placed bayonet strikes.
Stone Temple Pilots perform “Interstate Love Song”
Between “Vasoline” and “Heaven and Hot Rods,” Rob DeLeo, the Glen Ridge, New Jersey native, reminisced about his past.
“It’s great to be back home,” said DeLeo. “Whenever we play hear it’s so surreal, because I’m playing on the same stage where I saw my first concert when I was five. It was The Carpenters in ’71.”
“My first show,” chimed in Weiland, “was the Michael Stanley Band in ’75. Substantially less cool than The Carpenters.”
“Michael Stanley’s pretty cool,” replied Rob.
“He’s a poor man’s Bruce Springsteen,” answered Weiland, playing off the audience’s love of The Boss.
“Before we start up again,” said Rob to the audience, “I just want to point out that one of our childhood friends is sitting here in the front row. We lived across the street from one another. Thanks for coming out dude.”
And if you thought Weiland could get through a show without a mindless, pointless, ramble that commences with a thought in mind but ends with a poor celebrity impersonation, you were wrong.
“There aren’t many bands that can jam like us,” said Weiland after an improvisational bluesified-jazz session. “At Coachella Bjork couldn’t even start her set because she said,” in his best (worst) Bjork impression, “’The computer is broken.’”
As well as a cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Dancing Days,” STP jammed in between several songs. Thinking out loud I said “They should have just bagged these jam sessions and added “Lady Picture Show” to the set.” Those surrounding me agreed.
Stone Temple Pilots perform “Big Empty”
Through 17 songs, STP had yet to play my favorite, “Dead and Bloated.” The band walked off the stage and I frantically awaited its encore. After a few rounds of the crowd chanting for them in unison, the lights kicked back on, the Pilots returned, and waves of audience approval crashed into them.
Like Gallagher hovers around his watermelon mallet, sending his audience into a fruit smashing frenzy, so did Weiland with his megaphone. When he finally picked it up the cement roofing almost unhinged from its pillars from the colossal roar that emitted from the crowd.
It was fitting ending to a great night.
But let us not forget how it began…with Cage The Elephant, the act I was most excited to see.
The couple behind me mocked the band, referring to them as a soft-core Rage Against The Machine. Maybe, but I happen to think Cage’ fuzzy blues rock is substantially better than Rage’s monotonous catalogue spanning sound. It get old after a while, you know? Cage The Elephant can go fast, slow, bluesy, trippy, punk. Whatever you’re jonesing for at the time, Cage can fill your need.
I’ve never seen a front-man quite like Matt Shultz. He played to the crowd, he jumped into the crow placing audience members in headlocks, forcing them into a duet. When a show patron yelled to him from the front row Shultz gave him the microphone so everyone could hear.
“Hey Cage! We need the new CD please!”
Cage The Elephant performs “Aberdeen” (new song) and “Back Against The Wall”
When Schultz wasn’t dancing in the aisles he twitched and shuffled around the stage like one of the infected from 28 Days Later. Schultz was a ball of fire and when the last chords were struck on Brad Shultz and Lincoln Parish’s guitars, the last string plucked from the bass of Dan Tichenor, drumstick thrust into Jared Champion’s set, Matt Schultz remained onstage, by himself, refusing to leave. His Jim Morrison long sleeved t-shirt drenched in sweat, Shultz shook hands with fans, posed for pictures, and in a last ditch effort for more rock, he picked a guitar, crawled on his knees to the nearest amp and played finally walking off into the wings to a chorus of cheers and distorted feedback.
This performance confirmed my biggest regret of Bonnaroo 2009 when I didn’t see these guys in a more intimate setting. It was a powerful 11-song set.
- Wicked Garden
- Heaven And Hot Rods
- Between The Lines
- Hickory Dichotomy
- Still Remains
- Big Empty
- Dancing Days (Led Zeppelin)
- Pretty Penny
- Silvergun Superman
- Interstate Love Song
- Huckleberry Crumble
- Sex Type Thing
18. Dead And Bloated
19. Trippin’ On A Hole In A Paper Heart
Cage The Elephant Setlist:
- Dr. Dr. Dr.
- Tiny Little Robots
- Back Against The Wall
- Japanese Buffalo
- Ain’t No Rest For The Wicked
- Indie Kids
- In One Ear
- Saber-Tooth Tiger