(This review was originally published on MTVnews.com in June 2008)
In 1993 I walked from my parents’ house to the only music store in San Carlos, California. The store was called Rod’s Records Videos & Tapes, and on one warm summer day I slapped my hard-earned Hamilton down on the counter. In exchange for the cash that I had earned sweating away over the lawn mowing and bathroom cleaning, I was handed a cassette tape by Stone Temple Pilots called Core. I removed the shrink wrap, opened up the plastic case, threw that bad boy into my bright yellow Sony Sport Walkman, and headed home. Over the next few months, I would listen to that tape over and over and over again, each time wishing I was one of the DeLeo Brothers as I rocked out on the air guitar in the suburban bedroom I shared with my own brother.
Fifteen years later, I finally saw the DeLeo Brothers in person, along with their pals Eric and Scott. For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to see these guys (with Eric and Scott and not that dude from Filter), and it has never worked out for me.
It kills me to say it, but their show at the Hollywood Bowl last night was a nostalgia flashback of epic proportions. It was a chance for fans to bust out their “Beavis & Butt-Head” hats and ironic T-shirts with silly company logos (Wonder Bread, anyone?) and remember the good old days when the economy was balanced, the country was at peace and the only thing that blew about the White House were the interns. At least the current White House covered my tickets, as I was more than happy to spend that tax rebate helping fight the war against the war on drugs.
The night started at 7:30 p.m. sharp with an opening set by Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, a.k.a. Frank Black, a.k.a. Black Francis, a.k.a. that big fat bald dude from the Pixies. His set was the perfect chance for folks to catch up on text messages; debate about whether Chris Cornell needs to hang it up or not; buy beer; get busted for smoking; puke; eat dinner; complain because your company promised box seats but here you are in the middle of the Bowl, drooling over that guy who plays a doctor on that TV show; use the non-flush, non-water, eco-friendly urinal; scream about how much you hated the music onstage; buy another beer; talk about your sister who won’t stop popping out babies from various daddies; or sleep.
Personally, I enjoyed the set for what it was: 45 minutes of that big fat bald dude from the Pixies playing songs that no one has ever heard before or will hear again, because no one cares about him when Kim, Joey and that other dude are not involved.
After a nice long wait, it finally happened: The four men who make up Stone Temple Pilots took the stage, and I was going to witness it. With no new music to fall back on, the just-shy-of-two-hour set was your basic greatest-hits package with a few choice album cuts thrown in for good measure.
“Big Empty” opened up the set, with the DeLeo Brothers looking the same as they did in 1992 (OK, maybe a few more wrinkles) and Eric Kretz looking the same as he has since 1996, when he got a haircut. Weiland emerged in true rock star fashion, using the mic stand to support himself as he belted out the lyrics and danced like some snake who just ate way too much Taco Bell and has to go #2.
Having grown up just over the hill in Burbank, Weiland made sure to mention time and time again just how wonderful it was to grace the Hollywood Bowl for the very first time. In fact, between hits like “Big Bang Baby,” “Creep” and “Vasoline” Weiland was very chatty in a slurred-shy-mad-genius sort of way. He confided about how he had the best backing band in the world and even mentioned that STP were signed around the same time as other So-Cal bands Tool and Rage Against the Machine.
I am not TMZ and it is not my job to tell you what Weiland is or is not on. Suffice it to say that he is lucky to have such a strong backing band behind him to help carry the weight and collect a paycheck. In fact, the three sounded so tight backing the crazed frontman, you would have never guessed that they had taken seven years off.
As great as the hits were, some of the album tracks I never thought I would hear live were played. My all-time favorite STP song, “Silvergun Superman,” found its way into the set pretty early on. Another favorite, “Crackerman,” got my body moving as others passed out from too much of a good thing around me.
Really, for me last night, it was all about the DeLeo Brothers. Sure, the sing-along is fun (and boy, was the crowd loud and into singing just about every word of every song), but part of me has never gotten past being that 14-year-old boy in my room, shredding on air guitar. Sure, I have picked up actual bass and guitar skills since then and actually learned to play some STP tunes. But how could I resist not playing a little air bass to that rad bass breakdown in “Big Empty,” or pretend to wail on the beefy guitar solo from the night’s encore, “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart“?
After all, the year is 2008. I am fat and bald and ready for the ’90s nostalgia to take hold of this nation. Now, where the hell did I put my flannel?