April 17, 2015
House of Blues - Dallas
Dallas, TX USA
Review by Brian Ullrich
Photos by Brian Ullrich
Stone Temple Pilots
STP Hits Back With A Throat Punch
Stone Temple Pilots took the stage at Dallas' House of Blues promptly at 9:15 on Friday night to a capacity crowd in the Music Hall looking very much like the polished rock band STP is known to be.
Opening with "Lounge Fly," the boys set a moderate pace to start the show that rolled into a crowd-pleasing "Vasoline" and "Wicked Garden."
Steppin' in for original vocalist, Scott Weiland, is Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington, who may be the most unlikely named rockstar in the free world and looked very much in charge as STP brought an honest-to-goodness rock show to Dallas. Without much in the way of stage adornment, the boys had little distraction as they set about the business of playing to the sold-out crowd.
Typical of other STP live performances, the music had a barely-controlled quality to it, as though at any moment the bounds of constraint that held it might break and it would come spinning off the stage and crash into the audience. This was an illusion though, as evidenced by the 16th-note total break on "Sex Type Thing" that indicated the band was firmly in control before mashing the pedal to the floor again.
The setlist was diverse, putting on full display STP's many influences and the evolution of their sound. Hard-rocking "Pruno," "Crackerman," "Coma," and "Sin" rounded out the first 1/3 of the set, with Chester announcing to the crowd, "Man, that was fun" before launching into the decidedly more pop-ish "Big Bang Baby." "Out of Time" was the only Bennington collaboration played and was well received if unrecognized. "Creep" marked a change in the temperature of the show, starting slowly with a deliberate feel and bringing in a deeper texture as the show progressed. Carrying a bluesy slide intro, "Big Empty" got the crowd going and continued through to the deeply soulful "Plush," which was the highlight of the show. With an unplugged vibe, "Plush" had very intimate feel, and the crowd took center-stage singing along at top volume.
The 20-song set got back to form with an up-paced "Interstate Love Song," "Down," "Sex and Violence," ending with "Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart." One two-song encore ensued, culminating with a scorching "Dead & Bloated."
Throughout, the band's intonation and timing were spot-on, and they were tight musically. Bennington hit his marks and tone, and his stage presence was excellent, if not Weiland-esque in its movements. About the only low-points in the quality of the presentation was the mix; there seemed to be little dimension to the mix at all. Harmony was nearly non-existent as the backup vocals were drowned out. Dean DeLeo's leads were difficult to pick out in the early part of the show, though the sound guys seemed to work it out later.
Was it STP? It certainly sounded like STP. It looked like STP- maybe a little too much. Chester Bennington seemed to channel Scott Weiland in his movements and overall stage show. And while he owned it (as much as a man can own singing another man's lyrics), one can't help but wonder what the next iteration will sound like with Bennington at the helm. Weiland to Bennington was not a square peg in a round hole. It seems to fit. Only time will tell if it sticks.