The alternative rock, grunge and neo-psychedelic band Stone Temple Pilots performed to a sold-out crowd at the Theatre of Living Arts on South Street April 30. The concert was the final stop of the brief and aptly named “Spring 2015 North America” tour. For this tour, the band consciously chose to play smaller venues, creating a more intimate setting for audiences.
Originally formed in 1985 under the moniker Mighty Joe Young and hailing from San Diego, the band decided upon the name Stone Temple Pilots prior to signing with Atlantic Records, as the original band name was already in use by Chicago based blues artist, Joseph Young. Spending their early years touring, their first album was released in 1992, to much commercial success. As a result, Stone Temple Pilots became symbolic of the ‘90s alternative grunge scene, despite the members themselves wanting no parts of that particular label. Though Stone Temple Pilots does not like to be branded, they draw from such genres as rhythm and blues, lounge music, psychedelic rock, bossa nova, country, jangle pop, metal and ragtime. This confluence of genres is perhaps what makes Stone Temple Pilots’ sound so unique.
Initially comprised of lead vocalist and keyboardist Scott Weiland, bassist and backing vocalist Robert DeLeo, along with his brother guitarist Dean DeLeo and drummer Eric Kretz, Stone Temple Pilots has experienced many tumultuous moments during their tenure as a band, including a six-year hiatus. The band reformed in 2008, although over the next couple of years several tour dates were canceled due to Weiland being unable to reach his former vocal range. In early 2013, Weiland was officially fired from Stone Temple Pilots, after decades of dealing with heroin addiction, alcoholism and mental illness, all of which brought many professional highs and lows to the band. Since 2013, Stone Temple Pilots has been touring with Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, who has joined the band. Bennington is the only change to the lineup of the band to date.
The opening act of the night was the Brooklyn-based rock band, Dreamers. Once the opening act finished, anticipation filled the air as the crew began unloading Stone Temple Pilots’ instruments on to the stage. After several more minutes Stone Temple Pilots made their way to the stage to the welcoming hollers of the sold-out audience, which contained noticeably more males than females.
The opening song of the set was the heavy yet melodic track “Loungefly,” from the band’s second album, “Purple.” This opener was complete with the band’s compelling guitar effects and booming, definitive drumbeat throughout. The audience responded immediately, singing along, nodding heads and moving arms along with beat. The next song brought a little more of the band’s signature aggressive distortion and a lot more melody. Early on in their career, Stone Temple Pilots mastered the juxtaposition of a driving, distorted sound married with beautiful chord progressions. The first half of the show carried on similarly, showcasing more of the band’s early and heavier material with the occasional gorgeous harmony thrown in. It should be noted that by and large, I am not generally one for heavier rock and roll, but Stone Temple Pilots proves to be an exception due to the wide range of musical genres they draw from and incorporate into their songs, the intriguing rhythms, unique chord progressions and the occasional profound lyric.
Roughly halfway through the show, the band performed one of their more mellow tracks, “Adhesive.” This tour marks the live debut of the song despite being recorded 19 years ago. “Adhesive” is powerful yet dainty, thoughtful and hauntingly beautiful. The only elements that were sorely missing from the studio recording were the harmonies on chorus and the trumpet solo.
The Stone Temple Pilots is scheduled for a short tour in September, mainly touring the midwest; however they will be back May 16, playing the Susquehanna Bank Center for the WMMR 93.3 FM barbecue.