Amazingly enough, Scott Weiland took the stage only 30 minutes after the scheduled 9:15 PM start time. Let’s be honest, no one really thought Scott and his new backing band The Wildabouts would actually make a 9:15 start on the Sunset Strip at the House of Blues. Not in LA, not Scott Weiland. That’s why the 30 minute tardiness was easily excused- and actually a pleasant surprise to some who probably thought they could show up at 11 PM and still be staring at curtains over the stage. This initial feeling summed up the night pretty well actually- some excusable moments that you just learn to live with because the highs can still be pretty damn satisfying. So it was at Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts performance on Wednesday night at the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip.
Let’s start with the obvious- the Wildabouts are not Stone Temple Pilots. The backing band for the lead singer of bands such as STP and Velvet Revolver is in many ways a bar-soaked version of a cover band or jam band. They get the job done, but something is still missing from that $50 a ticket level of performance. Long time STP fans will tell you that Robert and Dean DeLeo are driving forces behind the arena filling sound and power of the classic band. But long time fans will also tell you that there is no replacement for Scott Weiland in the Stone Temple Pilots. There were times where the Wildabouts seemed like they were actually holding Scott back on standout vocal performances- many of which where delivered early on in the show. “Wicked Garden” was performed remarkably well by Weiland from a vocal standpoint. Scott’s magic as a frontman has always been the ability to unleash that 90s metal snarl at one point and to quickly transition into arena rock anthem god at the next. “Wicked Garden” provided those dueling moments and Scott was able to deliver in convincing fashion. “Crackerman” also made it into the set early on, but it was one of the times where Weiland seemed to be struggling to keep that snarl decipherable and in key. Part of that blame lays with the Wildabouts who tried their best to add their own style to the classic Stone Temple Pilots tracks, but in doing so threw the feel and tone of the songs off at times when Weiland was about to jump into a classic soaring vocal range. Odd times for the band to play with the formula that made Weiland such a huge star in the first place.
The night would follow a similar path from song to song- some huge moments and some that just seemed a little off. While the majority of the tracks performed were from Purple and Core as promised, there were a handful of cover songs that took center stage. The good- David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie”. Vocals were right on pitch and the Wildabouts carried a steady baseline throughout that allowed Weiland to truly cover the song instead of recreating it. The bad- Jane’s Addiction’s “Mountain Song”. We’ve been reading positive reviews on this cover from other fans who have attended other shows, but it felt rushed and the hardly audible lyrics didn’t help. Covering the great Perry Farrell is not easy and you’ll never fully get his “OOOOOsss” and “AAHHHHHsss” right, but at least try to make the lyrics sound like… you know, the actual lyrics.
So was tonight’s show perfect? Of course not, but no one expected that. Those huge STP songs were performed well at times, such as the new take on “Dead and Bloated”. The new twang on the classic track from Core was the most exciting moment of the night- and I don’t mean that in a way of just feeling content. “Dead and Bloated” rocked the House of Blues in a way that I’ve never seen before- and that includes multiple STP shows throughout the years. The Wildabouts finally found a groove that felt different and unique, and it gave the song new life. Weiland was clearly energized by the performance, belting out note after note with the type of precision that we’ve seen over two decades. Of course there was some awkward babble in between songs (over a minute about one line in the movie The Hobbit) and some very annoying tendencies for Weiland to spend minutes sending feedback from the megaphone and microphone into the speakers and into the ears of fans, but some of those big moments such as “Dead and Bloated”, “Vasoline” and a downright inspiring cover of “LA Woman” which might have been the best performance vocally and physically from Weiland on the night, made fans remember why they were there. Scott Weiland is a performer and a frontman at all times. Sure he’ll miss some spots at times, but when he hits it can be crushing.
For those wondering, Scott played it amazingly cool during the show. You could feel a rant about the new STP coming at any moment, especially with the Chester Bennington announcement so fresh in everyone’s mind. There may have been a 30 second bit about the new STP, but it was so hard to tell what Scott was trying to convey no one took it serious and it didn’t come off as anything of significance. But local radio darlings KROQ couldn’t help but fuel the fire by playing the new Stone Temple Pilots single on their broadcast about ten minutes before Weiland was supposed to come on stage at the House of Blues. Following the track, the local KROQ DJ ripped into Weiland calling him a “hot mess” and professing her affinity for the new lead singer of Stone Temple Pilots. Nice job KROQ. If you needed anymore proof that the remaining members of STP and their new lead singer are trying to force this new radio-appealing Stone Temple Pilots crap down your throat, well here you go. KROQ wants you to love the new STP just as much as they love the money they make with Linkin Park as one of their poster boys. You could see the suits and “DJs” at KROQ light up when they found out they could push another Chester Bennington band into the ears of its listeners. Let’s be honest, the “new” STP track is horrible and it’s pandering to a radio crowd who will eat anything that is fed to them. Nothing against Chester, who we have only heard good things about personally, but Stone Temple Pilots doesn’t exist without Scott Weiland at the helm. It’s part of why STP is so damn awesome in the first place. An enigmatic lead singer who can sing tunes that everyone loves? Stone Temple Pilots’ catalog from the 90s might be the most accessible of all the bands from that period, but they also benefited from the edge and press that oozed from Weiland’s antics and stage presence.
We admit that Weiland was less than perfect tonight, but it at least felt genuine. So if local radio wants to rip into Weiland and push the horrible music coming from the new “STP”, then we can’t help but take Scott’s side on this. We’ve never met Scott, and who knows, we might be taking the side of a crazy jerk. But since we haven’t met the man, we can only go off of the music, and right now we are taking the music of Scott Weiland and company.
The majority of fans in attendance tonight were in their 30s and 40s. They knew every lyric and you could tell they grew up on these sounds at some point in their lives. These fans wouldn’t be caught dead at a new Stone Temple Pilots show, but they weren’t afraid to give Weiland a fighting chance on this night.
We will be updating this page with more commentary and photos from the event soon.