In the grand picture of reunion tours, there’s the well deserved ones (The Police, Genesis) and the who the hell needs ’em right now ones (Extreme).
Toss Stone Temple Pilots into the later category. Broken up since 2003, their alternative grunge was the nightmare of critics but the wet-dream of rock-radio DJ’s and fratboys. Turn on any ‘alternative” station in 1995 and after “Even Flow,” you’re bound to hear Scott Weiland crooning “Plush” or “Creep.” The band’s five albums have sold over 17.5 million copies in the United States alone and nearly 40 million albums worldwide, along with charting fifteen top ten singles. More than a few people were obviously getting off on something other than Monica Lewinsky’s mouth during the Clinton era
Five years after their breakup , Weiland became the frontman of Velvet Revolver with former members of Guns N’ Roses. The DeLeo brothers (Robert/bass, Dean/Guitar) formed the band Army of Anyone with Richard Patrick of Filter. Weiland recently booted from Velvet Revolver strolled back to the old familiar, revisiting faded STP material in his in and out of rehab glory.
The flamboyant front-man, looking crack skinny as ever, kicked the night off wearing a shirt and tie, and working the stage like David Bowie meets Scott Stapp – part glamour, part ego. The DeLeo Brothers look the same as ’93, Robert looking like Hunter Thompson doing an odd bass waltz, while brother Dean, hair in his face, lets his guitar do the talking.
Taking the Phoenix audience on a self-described “sonic journey,” the band ran through all their hits, although the majority of the evening came off as run “through the motions.” “Wicked Garden,” with its, “burn, burn, burn” chorus hosted a backdrop screen showing a fire burning, which was 100% cheesy. Were these songs really that good back then?
“Interstate Love Song,” “Vaseline,” “Sex Type Thing,” all sounded like big 90’s alternative clichés. Rather than appearing relevant, the music just came off as tired, forced and creatively dry. And when STP did try to get fresh during a cover of Bob Marley’s “Redemption Song” the only thing recognizable were the spotty lyrics.
With no new material to promote, many of the fans (old and sunglassed indoors) were playing air guitar in their seats. And when Weiland gave kudos to openers Black Rebel Motorcycle Club by saying,” we wouldn’t have gotten back together if not for bands as inspirational as BMRC and vice versa,” a big “yeah right” crossed my lips. Sometimes reunions tours are just a little bit “dead and bloated.” Throw Stone Temple Pilots into this category.