I used to write about nearly every concert I went to, but I stopped several years ago. (So that I won’t forget what I’ve seen, I do keep a list of shows on my computer — 78 thus far since I’ve been in Berkeley. I kind of regret doing only this, because it’s hard to remember details about specific shows, especially if I’ve seen the same band multiple times.) For various reasons, I decided to write one about the Stone Temple Pilots concert I went to last night.

One reason is that STP was one of the most critically underrated bands of the 90s, and it was satisfying to see them at a totally sold-out show. Critics invariably lumped them in with the grunge movement as a poor man’s Pearl Jam, which never made any sense to me. STP arguably are better pop tunesmiths and have a more consistent catalog. Besides, the music sounds totally different.

Another reason is that now my list of “bands I grew up with but never got to see live” has decreased in size by one. Nice!

The final reason is that immediately evoked in me some memories from waaay back when, and I was surprised by their clarity.

  • Sitting at a table in Friendly’s (?) in Cheshire with Charles, around 8th grade. Charles took a tape (yes, tape) out of his backpack. It wass Core. “AJ, you have to check this out.” I did.
  • Traveling in India with my family. I picked up Purple for 50 rupees, about $2 at the time. I listened to it the whole trip, and my sisters (especially Meera) even started to like it.
  • Talking to my neighbor Dave after he saw them live, sometime in high school. “That guy has no knees,” he said about Scott Weiland. (I now know what he means.)
  • Playing Rock Band for the first time recently. I was content to use the guitar and drums, but I did choose to sing one song — “Vasoline”.

So how was the show? I’d give it a 7/10. Black Rebel Motorcycle Club opened… eh. STP absolutely slayed on their heavier numbers, like “Wicked Garden” and “Sex Type Thing”. Weiland raved about Berkeley, and even went on a 2-3 minute long pro-Obama rant, which was cool. But the crowd lost some energy in the middle and it took a while took get it back. Luckily, STP has no shortage of monster riffs, which helped. The first encore was, awesomely, “Dead and Bloated”, which features one of the greatest-ever album-opening moments: “I am / smelling like a rose that somebody gave me on my birthday deathbed…” shouted through a megaphone, followed by an immense riff. The second (at which point I was thinking, “what could they possibly play now?”) was the satisfying “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart”. Yeah for 90s rock!

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