Stone Temple Pilots Magical At The Fillmore Detroit, MI 9-16-15 w/ U.S. Elevator

After beginning their career as Mighty Joe Young, Stone Temple Pilots were inspired by the STP motor oil stickers, and different variations of the S, T and P initials were tried on for size, including Shirley Temple’s Pussy and Stereo Temple Pirates, before they finally settled on Stone Temple Pilots. Never the same sound twice, Stone Temple Pilots has made it their mission to move musically forward in each album to keep the band from being pigeonholed as a specific genre. After the success of Core (1992), original members Robert (bass, backing vocals) and Dean DeLeo (guitar), Eric Kretz (drums, percussion), and Scott Weiland (lead vocals) took Stone Temple Pilots on to become a household name, swimming with the big boys of Grunge such as Pearl Jam and Nirvana, although their sound was notable more Rock based. The San Diego natives then switched things up with Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop (1996), putting out more Glam/Psychedelic Rock spin on their sound. In between forced hiatuses from Weiland’s struggle with drug addiction, the band put out their self-titled 2010 album, a record that brought the swampy sound of Country Rockabilly to STP. The five track EP High Rise (2013) was the first showcasing of Chester Bennington, who replaced Weiland in 2013 after the band fired the vocalist for performing original Stone Temple Pilots music while on a solo tour. Bennington, originally from Linkin Park, was ranked #46 in Hit Parader’s Top 100 Heavy Metal Vocalists and has become an invaluable member of STP since his addition.

After taking the summer off, Stone Temple Pilots hit the road again with a few live shows this past September, starting on the 15th at Cleveland’s House of Blues and ending on the 25th at Myth in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Their second stop was at The Fillmore in Detroit, Michigan on Wednesday September 16th and it was one fans would not soon forget. The Fillmore, with its sweeping, marble staircases, Roman columns, velvet stations and sparkling chandeliers, is a building specially designed to create superb acoustics and was perfectly fitting for this night in Rock. Santa Barbara’s Folk music ensemble, U.S. Elevator, opened the evening for these eclectic rockers. The two bands took turns on the stage of The Fillmore, playing to a hodgepodge of concert junkies as dissonant as the chords on Dean DeLeo’s guitar, from nineties throwbacks in ripped jeans and flannel to former frat boys, Metal-heads, Soccer Moms, Hipsters and Stoners, all coexisting as they reveled in the upbeat, acoustic sounds of U.S. Elevator and STP’s familiar, angsty, meaningful lyrics.

Santa Barbara, CA band U.S. Elevator was the first to hit the stage. Guitarists Johnny Irion, great nephew of American author John Steinbeck, and Sarah Lee Guthrie, daughter of Arlo Guthrie and granddaughter of Woody Guthrie, started their careers as a duet, but, after five albums together – the most recent being 2013’s Wassaic Way – Irion decided to divert from their Folk Rock sound and form a band with a bit more Rock-n-Roll twist. He called up Bassist Nate Modisette, Drummer Erich Riedl, Guitarist Anders Bergstrom, Pianist Brett Long, and Guitarist/Pianist/album producer Tim Bluhm to complete their ensemble.

Anxious to engage The Motorcity audience, the band played music from their upcoming album, including “Community Service,” “Cry for Help,” “She’s Got Snow,” and “Sleep Ain’t Nothing But Death’s Brother,” the beautiful guitar chords and melancholy harmonica putting the crowd in a nostalgic mood as they paved the way for the night’s headliner. They ended the set with their single, the heavy, Blues-like “Dangerous Love,” a song that turned many a fan on to U.S. Elevator. Be sure to check out their first, self-titled album, set to be released on November 3rd through Route 8 Records.

Finally it was time for what everyone in the venue was waiting for. For a band that helped define a genre known for its less-than-perfect sound – they called it Grunge for a reason – Stone Temple Pilots were tight, with no muddy bass and no icepick-in-the-ear piercing string plucks, just full-on good sound. From the second they took the stage, STP took control of the entire venue as well and owned it, weaving together a show as intricate as a perfectly symmetrical Persian rug. Overall, they were focused, flawlessly in sync, and the audience responded as captivated, mesmerized by the music, and on their feet for the entire duration. The band opened the night with “Wicked Garden” before moving on to the controversial “Sex Type Thing.” The backstage lights lit up the set like so many stars as Robert DeLeo plucked his bass and Kretz counted off on his sticks as “Vasoline” began. White hatted and sunglassed, Bennington tore through the song as if he had written it himself. A collage of other songs followed, including “Big Bang Baby,” “Crackerman,” “Out of Time,” “Hollywood Bitch” and “Meatplow,” as well as the heavy, trippy “Lounge Fly.”

The highlight of the show was when the band played “Creep,” “Big Empty,” “Plush,” and “Interstate Love Song” in a row, building the crowd up into a musical, magical climax. Of course, the audience knew every word. A very kinetic, animated and impeccably-toned Bennington radiated pure energy, performing as though his life depended on it. With every move, every smile, and every pitch-perfect note, he breathed new life into STP favorites that were always great, but had gotten a bit dusty as they had sat on the top shelf for years in pride of place. It was like hearing them all again for the first time, but better. The boys of STP then kicked it back up with “Sex & Violence” and “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart” before wrapping up the night with the sick and twisted “Dead and Bloated.”

As fan left The Fillmore and traveled back to parts unknown, they will never forget that they were once of one mind and body for just a few hours as they reveled in the grinding, bass twisting distortion that they all knew as Stone Temple Pilots. Now fans worldwide patiently await a new full-length album from the band slated for some time in 2016. In the meantime, they will be making an appearance at Monster Energy Aftershock Festival on October 25th out in Sacramento, CA, so a road trip may be in order.


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