Scraping Genius Off The Wheel

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May 18, 2011 – The amount of emotional damage in the Gramercy Theatre last night could fill an orphanage, with large bespectacled women and bleached blonde cardboard cutouts hardly co-mingling with stumbling drug casualties, rock n roll wannabees with overzealous intoxicated girlfriends, and Brads-from-Accounting, along with a morose minority of pitiable sad sacks. Evidently, Scott Weiland’s fanbase is a lot less glamorous and enviable than rock and fashion magazines let on.

In town for a Howard Stern Show inteview and a Barnes & Noble book signing on the release date of his “as told to” memoir “Not Dead And Not For Sale,” the Stone Temple Pilots frontman had also scheduled a solo gig at this small-ish venue. Only the truly naive or ignorant came expecting a show packed with STP and Velvet Revolver jams, though given the aforementioned motley assortment of attendees that might have been a sizable demographic. What even the most sensible of us didn’t expect was the meandering shitshow that we were to wait more than two hours for.

After an opening set from unmemorable cockrock pastiche The Dirty Pearls, murmurs and jokes about Weiland’s notorious reputation as Captain Tardy quickly began. A lone roadie adjusted instruments and tapped microphones, before disappearing. The wait grew interminable and the crowd started grumbling in widening pockets. An hour passed before a bespectacled guy–who later turned out to be a member of the band–came out to apologize for the delay, citing Scott’s tardiness due to “signing 700 books” earlier that night and promising he’d appear in “fifteen minutes.” Neither he nor his message were well received. Within ten minutes, a mocking chant of “Guns N Roses” emerged, lasting just long enough to make its point. After another twenty minutes, boos and beers showered the stage. Finally, more than two hours since the opener had cleared the stage, Weiland and his band enter to a deserved mix of taunts, boos, and enthusiasm. After mumbling an exasperated, passably coherent excuse for his lateness, he led the band in a lengthy psychedelic jam session that felt like a bigger “fuck you” than the wait itself.

Early on, Weiland declared “This is not an STP show,” repeatedly referring to this sold-out concert as a “rehearsal” to the obvious frustration of the impatient and irritated audience. Rather than a run-through of his quite good solo discography, the band performed a self-indulgent hodgepodge set of poorly executed covers. Much of the blame fell on Weiland’s shoulders, as several of the selections were ill-suited to his style and rather hoarse voice. Misfires included Depeche Mode’s “But Not Tonight” and The Lemonheads’ “Into Your Arms.” Rowdy, bewildered concertgoers desperate spat out heckles of “Play some of your own music” and “Cool story, bro” to a disinterested Weiland, who delivered drawling monologues between tracks that only a fanatic could actually enjoy. Comparatively, the two David Bowie covers, “Fame” and “Jean Genie,” worked out well.

An encore of Purple‘s “Unglued” felt like a consolation prize after such a negative navel gazing experience. As he left the stage, all Weiland could muster in response to his tepid reception were the inscrutable words “Heavy metal disco album.” Right.

-GS

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