Highland, CA – 10/22/09
Opening act: Something To Burn
At first it seemed difficult to find the venue. Not only do the Casino grounds reside somewhere in the obscurity of the Inland Empire, but once a person arrives one has to walk down a long hallway through several buildings, walk around a giant set of spiral stairs, enter through the correct opening to the casino out of two or three, and then walk through the casino, amid tables of blackjack, craps, and slot machines, until one comes to a series of metal detectors near the doors. Any misstep in any of these series of steps would have caused much confusion and dismay to the excited fan, although an intoxicated patron with enough money from the slot machines might stumble onto it rather quickly if luck and persistence have anything to do with it.
The auditorium itself doesn’t exactly say, “concert,” either. It reminds one more of a business seminar ballroom, or somewhere that would host Amma with her legions of followers in hotel conference rooms. It held a surprising number of seats, however, and they fanned out and filled in most of the room. It didn’t seem the kind of venue that Stone Temple Pilots performed in during the peak of their fame, or worthy of their past career as genuine alternative rock stars. The fans, mostly older than 25, still filled the seats.
STP didn’t do much as an introduction besides just walking onstage. The fans stood up as soon as they did, howling, some chanting, “STP, STP.” Then they played. The guitar and drums lit up the room, with Weiland standing on the front lights, legs slightly spread apart and body waving back and forth with the beat and riffs. He sang as though nothing stood between him and the music, not even years of rehab or heroin addiction. He didn’t even seem to break a sweat.
After some initial hard-hitting hits like “Vasoline” and “Wicked Garden,” STP moved on to the softer yet still popular, including hits like “Creep,” and “Sour Girl.” “Plush” and “Interstate Love Song” pushed the energy back up, way back up for “Sex Type Thing” and “Unglued” before they left for the obvious encore return of “Dead and Bloated” and “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart.” They managed to play most of their big hits in one set, and threw in some deep cuts for the fun of the show.
The audience screamed in admiration as the four band members all stood up on the front lights and hung their arms across each other’s shoulders. They didn’t do or say anything in particular, unless they said to the audience simply by their presence, “We’re back.”