Stone Temple Pilots finished a series of Southern California dates at the sold-out Greek (actually, the place looked quite oversold) and proceeded to turn in one of its most riveting area performances.
It’s not often that a young rock band finds itself headlining large venues after only two albums. Of course, not many bands sell more than 3 million copies of their debut and follow that success with a No. 1 album the way this group has done.
Singer Scott Weiland (who prefers to be addressed simply as Weiland) is a gangly, awkward frontman, reminiscent of the classic schoolyard bully, whose spastic flailings and pained expressions perfectly matched his lyrics of emotional detachment and spiritual struggle.
Dressed in the yard-sale threads that have come to signify STP’s style of slacker-groove grunge, the singer kept the conversation to a minimum, concentrating, as he told the boisterous crowd, on being “nice for all the L.A. rock press.” Smart thinking, as the band charged, with little interruption, through most of its hit Atlantic album, “Purple,” as well as choice tracks from its 1992 bow, “Core.”
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Framed by giant lava lamp projections and decorative opera curtains, the band , which also includes brothers Dean and Robert DeLeo on guitar and bass and drummer Eric Kretz, displayed a more informed sense of concert style than it did last summer at Castaic Lake. Just as “Purple” outshines its predecessor, so toodoes STP, circa 1994, outper-form the tentative and seemingly shellshocked band that last came through town.
The band has repeatedly said in interviews that the recording sessions for “Purple” were heavy with animosity that manifested itself in a surprisingly solid album. Now, the band has parlayed that experience into an informed stage confidence that bodes well for the group’s long-term success.
Standouts in the 65-minute set included early hit “Plush,” the appropriately tagged “Unglued,” the thickly grooved “Meatplow” and “Big Empty.”
A surprise highlight was the three-song acoustic set, offering “Creep” and “Pretty Penny,” an affecting song of lost hope, in simple, moving terms.
Few unproven bands could have withstood the intense scrutiny and criticism that Stone Temple Pilots has weathered since its inception. Not only has the quartet persevered, it has evolved into a tight, anxious and, ultimately, beautiful rock ‘n’ roll band that gives a new appreciation of what it means to survive success.