Edison Graff/Stardust Fallout
Sunday, June 2, 2013 | 4:36 p.m.
By Jack Houston
In the song “Creep,” Scott Weiland sings, “I’m half the man I used to be.”
On Saturday night, it was more like one-third. Or maybe a quarter.
The former Stone Temple Pilots frontman’s performance at Pearl at the Palms was, at best, gloriously ragged. At worst, it was a giant eff you to the fans who’ve stuck by him through years of addiction and band breakups and reunions.
One of those fans fled his floor seat midway through the show, one hand gripping his girlfriend, the other raised in a one-finger salute to the stage. (Also overheard: “ You suck! “Get off the drugs!” “Play something good!)
If there was any question whether Weiland deserved to be kicked out of Stone Temple Pilots and replaced with Linkin Park singer Chester Bennington, he answered loud and clear. If there was any question who was at fault in Velvet Revolver’s acrimonious split, he answered that, too.
And then, for good measure, he climbed the PA rig, wrested the American flag from its wall mount high above the crowd, paraded it around the stage and duct taped it to a speaker. All the while his poor band, The Wildabouts, vamped through a cover of David Bowie’s “The Jean Genie.”
Was there any significance to it? Not really.
Then there was the theremin. The otherworldly instrument, used to great effect in classic horror movies and The Beach Boys’ “Good Vibrations, became a crutch for Weiland. Instead of using it to accent the music, he returned to it over and over again, its out-of-tune wail disrupting everything in its path.
Stage banter was full of non-sequiturs and what sounded like an attempt to make peace with his former bandmates in STP — odd considering the lawsuit they just filed against him. He even blamed his drummer for arriving six hours late to their scheduled flight and for “partaking” in certain substances.
The irony of that accusation couldn’t have been lost on anyone. Performers with his track record need to almost overcompensate to prove their sobriety; Weiland did no such thing.
Instead, he pawned off the high part of the “Creep” chorus to The Wildabouts, used an over-the-top echo effect to mask occasionally pitchy vocals and sang through a megaphone in at least two songs. Few accessories speak to a performer’s true state of mind more than a megaphone.
If there was a high point, it was a fairly faithful performance of The Doors’ “L.A. Woman” as the first of two encores. If there was a low point, it was everything that went unplayed.
For a tour dubbed “Purple at the Core,” you’d expect to hear hits made famous by STP’s first two albums, “Core” and “Purple” — if only to prove that it’s Weiland, not Bennington, who deserves to sing these songs.
But there was no “Plush,” no “Interstate Love Song,” no “Big Empty,” no “Sex Type Thing.”
Just “Vasoline” and a prescient little ditty called “Unglued.”
Unhinged is more like it.
Jack Houston is editor of Las Vegas Magazine and Vegas2Go. Houston is not unhinged, and the theremin is not his favorite musical instrument.