Watch video highlights from STP's reunion right here!
White vans gather up fans and haul them up the hill from Sunset Boulevard into fabled Laurel Canyon. Dusty trails of trampled sand and precarious stone steps surround the mansion, threatening to ruin the high heels and leather loafers of the beautiful people gathered here to witness the first Stone Temple Pilots performance in five, six, ten years, depending on who you ask or overhear. There's a large bust of a man's head, uplit and glowing in carved white stone, presumably of Harry Houdini, one-time resident of this house. Magic is implicitly promised, if not entirely delivered.
"Yeah, all right. I wish I was here at this party," Scott Weiland pronounces after a slow-crawl rendition of "Big Empty" starts the show, which was presented by SPIN and Citi. There's an inordinate amount of cell phone cameras held high beneath thick-trunked palm trees. Winding foliage tumbles down a steep hill toward the makeshift carpeted floor, creating a natural balcony above a stage constructed to resemble a vintage circus big top with sparkling purple and gold banners.
The band is dressed sharply, especially Weiland, who moves around like an insect in a three-piece black suit and gray tie. His arms and legs circle and bend in slow patterns, searching like a turtle would, if you held him up in the air. The band breaks into "Plush," their first hit from 1992. Dismissed at the time as a calculated Pearl Jam ape, the song takes on a decidedly different tone now. There have been so many Vedder sound-a-likes since then, if the song was a rip-off, at least it was a prescient one. No one here seems to mind anyway. All is forgiven. Hands are in the air and the women sing along.
During later period selections from the STP catalog -- "Lady Picture Show," "Big Bang Baby" -- the DeLeo brothers (Rob on bass, Dean on guitar) do the whole lean-into-each-other's back thing. Weiland hangs an arm around Dean, bringing to mind that this closeness may no longer exist between him and Slash. (The Velvet Revolver guitarist pre-emptively "kicked out" the singer from his band last week.) Tonight, these four seem genuinely pleased by each other's company.
Chants of "S-T-P, S-T-P, S-T-P," coerce the quartet from behind the stage for an encore. Weiland starts to explain that this is a neighborhood and that the cops weren't too pleased with the idea of a live show, prompting more than one shout of, "Fuck the police!"
"No, no, no. Not at all, actually," warns Weiland, perhaps cautious of run-ins past.
At the close of a faithful rendering of the Zeppelin-styled "Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart," the band returns one last time for an arms-entwined, front-of-stage bow. "We wanted to play a full set, but... see you at the [Hollywood] Bowl," where the band will perform in June, a venue they've never played. A man nearby promises his girlfriend, "We'll go. We'll get a place in back and lie down, drink wine, eat cheese. It'll be the best time ever." Someone else complains, "Short fucking set."
The free long-sleeved black shirt they're handing out at the exit says, "Harry Houdini presents an extravaganza transcending both space, time and technology, featuring the new voltaires [sic]... Otherwise you could call it an STP party. Stone Temple Pilots. Laurel Canyon. 4/7/08." Not quite as magical or poetic as all that, but a testament to some kind of endurance all the same.
Stone Temple Pilots set list:
"Lady Picture Show"
"Big Bang Baby"
"Interstate Love Song"
"Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart"
We Asked: It's been almost eight years since Stone Temple Pilots had a hit and they've reunited tonight. What were you doing eight years ago and would you like to do it again?
Dean DeLeo offering Weiland a little support / Photo by Andrea LeBarge
Frontman Scott Weiland / Photo by Andrea LeBarge
Guitarist Dean DeLeo / Photo by Andrea LeBarge
Bassist Robert DeLeo / Photo by Andrea LeBarge
Reunited and rockin' out / Photo by Andrea LeBarge
A little pre-ceremonial dancing / Photo by Andrea LeBarge