Despite past legal troubles, prior band separations, musical side projects, and their on-again, off-again status over the past 10 years, the Stone Temple Pilots, known to their fans as simply “STP,” proved to still have what it takes to get a drunken crowd staggering … I mean dancing, and doing Guitar Hero poses.
Warm weather and the smell of spilled beer lingered as the band—brothers Dean (guitar) and Robert DeLeo (bass), Eric Kretz (drums), and Scott Weiland (vocals)—made a vivacious entrance, immediately tearing into the incendiary riffs of “Wicked Garden” in front of a two-story, pixelated screen that flashed tripped-out, lava lamp-inspired images. Within seconds, a vest-and-tie wearing Weiland had the majority of the swaying crowd sufficiently screaming and singing along, as he shouted the lyrics into a megaphone.
Although Weiland’s slow, vocal nonchalance helped demonstrate his true prowess on grunge classics like “Vasoline” and “Big Empty,” the DeLeo brothers’ bass-guitar combo proved the real chugging force behind the band’s rather standard performance. Dean DeLeo’s ambient guitar openings paved the way for a danceable rendition of one of their new songs, “Between the Lines,” while Kretz’s heavy percussion fueled the glam-rock-inspired numbers “Hickory Dichotomy” and “Huckleberry Crumble.”
Following a bluesy, screech-infused guitar solo by Dean, things began to ramp up yet again, as Weiland slinked around the stage singing fan favorite “Plush.” Regardless of the fact that Weiland’s vocals closely, if not entirely resembled the same mumbling sound heard on the band’s first album, Core, his performance seriously lacked any sincere heart, as he thoughtlessly moved between one DeLeo brother and the other on stage.
Thankfully, the band’s spot-on performance of “Slivergun Superman,” a combination of Robert’s intrinsic bass lines and a slew of flashing white lights, allowed for a proper show closing. Fortunately for fans, STP rushed back on stage for a much-appreciated encore, where Weiland and band brought out a decorated birthday cake in celebration of Weiland’s big 4-3. After a funked-out “Happy Birthday” sing-along, the band ripped into the often forgotten single “Dead and Bloated,” followed by a woozy, power-chord propelled version of “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart.”
A fusion of woo-hoos and whistling persisted as the group congregated atop a center-stage speaker for one final bow. There, under the moonless Santa Barbara sky, the audience beamed over witnessing the familiar sounds of STP’s most famous alt-grunge numbers, despite an ultimately half-hearted performance.