Live Review: KROQ Almost Acoustic Christmas (Stone Temple Pilots, AFI, Staind)
Mon, 15 Dec 2008 13:30:52
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Stone Temple Pilots Videos
At night one of KROQ's "Almost Acoustic Christmas," there were all kinds of rock n' roll bands under the tree. Some of them—The Offspring and Rise Against—tightly wrapped anger in quick punk presents, while others (w)rapped and rocked about decay and destruction, like Hollywood Undead. Meanwhile, Slightly Stoopid played warm reggae under the mistletoe. However, the two best gifts under the tree were Staind and Stone Temple Pilots. Back in 2001, they toured together as part of The Family Values tour, and they fit snugly under KROQ's big old tree. Santa certainly picked those two for the good boys and girls in the crowd, and KROQ managed to construct the best and most diverse radio show of the year.
Stone Temple Pilots' set was nothing short of rapturous. The band took the stage to the slow, woozy blues lead of "The Big Empty." Clad in black from head-to-toe with a cigarette in his hand and shades over his eyes, frontman Scott Weiland personified cool. The moment Dean Deleo started the first solo, the crowd knew that the legends had arrived. Weiland danced across the stage smoothly and hypnotically, as he carried each and every note of the song to heaven and back. He sounded better than ever, and his charisma charmed everyone instantly. The refrain, "Conversations kill," sparked a massive sing-a-long, and Stone Temple Pilots conjured something truly magical. There's no better Christmas present than great rock music, and Stone Temple Pilots are the best at it.
"The Big Empty" gave way to a fiery "Wicked Garden." Dean DeLeo ripped through a kinetic solo, as his brother Robert held down the song's sex-i-fied groove. Eric Kretz bashed out a classic rhythm, and the band was unstoppable. They reached rock god status on "Big Bang Baby," and Weiland pranced across the stage espousing dark lines like some sort of brilliant poet of the apocalypse. At the end of "Vasoline," he let out a shocking scream filled with power and pain. Weiland's a true enigma. The best frontman of his generation, he combines Elvis's cool with Robert Plant's epic swagger. However, he gives his band mates the spotlight as well. He got on his knees in front of Dean during the solo for "Crackerman," and the song simply came to life.
After "Crackerman," Weiland spoke, "This is the time of year for family to get together. When family gets together, it makes people feel better. I think that's part of being spiritual. Whether you are or you aren't, this song's called 'Plush.'"
After "Plush" took over, Weiland gave everyone that spirit. Weiland's made of what few frontman can even emulate. He's got soul and style, and he's real. His band's got it all too. "Interstate Love Song" and "Sex Type Thing" sent a shockwave of energy through the crowd, and "Dead and Bloated" was just as powerful as it was when Core dropped. During the band's last song, "Trippin' On a Hole in a Paper Heart," Weiland screamed, "I'm not dead, and I'm not for sale." It's a mantra that resonated with everyone there. That's the spirit of Christmas—individuality.
If Stone Temple Pilots' set played out like an epic film, Staind's was like a powerful, action-packed Clint Eastwood romp. Frontman Aaron Lewis didn't need to say a word. Like Dirty Harry, he spoke softly and fired off some big shots, blowing a hole through the fluff. Clad in jeans, a black t-shirt and a Red Sox hat, Lewis looked strangely ready for war. The band kicked everything off with a vitriolic "Suffocate," from their first album Dysfunction. An impenetrable riff morphed into Lewis's beautifully dark croon. His voice sounded pristine, and he captured everyone in the crowd's attention. The song was heavy and brutally powerful, and it proved the perfect opening number for the band to assault everyone's senses with.
From there, guitarist Mike Mushok played the acoustic opening for "Right Here," and Staind ignited the crowd. Lewis sounded incredible, giving the song's chorus a true vibrancy. Their latest single, "All I Want," showed Staind's brilliant balance between brutality and beauty. Mushok ripped a soaring solo that showcased his incredible fretwork. "For You" sounded vicious, and then the band's most powerful cut took over. "Spleen," another Dysfunction track, seesawed between a psychotic riff and Lewis's schizophrenic vocal switch. He could scream and sing with the best of them. Staind ended a standout set with "Mudshovel." At the end, Lewis threw his microphone to the ground, and Staind showed that they remain one of the best and most important rock bands on the scene. Staind were mavericks on the bill, playing their heaviest fare and still sounding melodic.
AFI also put on a standout show. "Girl's Not Grey" and "Miss Murder" ignited the audience. Their infectious goth punk stole everyone's attention, and frontman Davey Havok commanded the crowd. Three Days Grace impeccably played their hits, also sparking some fan singing. However, of the earlier bands, Slightly Stoopid stood out. Their catchy reggae-punk hybrid on cuts like "Till It Gets Wet" was just what Santa ordered to break up all that distortion. Vocals resounded, and they definitely got the most dancing from the scene. Rise Against's punk proved punchy, and The Offspring didn't run out of hits to play during their closing set. Openers Hollywood Undead channeled Korn and Wu-Tang Clan through a melodic filter, and the kids ate it up.
Despite all these offerings, the best gifts remained Stone Temple Pilots and Staind. Weiland's comments rung through the night. Music seems to be the only religion Weiland needs. It might just be the best solution for all of us. Merry Christmas.