SXSW 2010 Quick Hits, Day 2: Stone Temple Pilots

Off to the Austin Music Hall in the warehouse district, where ’90s alternative heroes Stone Temple Pilots were scheduled for a full headlining set. The hall was packed and the band delivered the goods, mixing in strong material from their forthcoming new album with plenty of older classics. “Wicked Garden” sizzled, with vocalist Scott Weiland sounding great and the band firing on all cylinders. “Big Empty,” “Creep,” “Plush” and “Interstate Love Song” all rocked the house. New single “Between the Lines” rocked with the classic STP sound, mixing the hard rock with melodic lyrics, suggesting Weiland’s drug days are finally behind him. A Weiland relapse is the only thing that can stop this band, because the power trio behind Weiland was on fire. Dean DeLeo dazzled on guitar throughout the night, proving a master of grunge guitar, particularly with the tight harmonics. Robert DeLeo and Eric Kretz still make a formidable rhythm section, demonstrating STP as a band ready for a second prime. The new “Huckleberry Crumble” was another winner, combining a groovy bass line with psychedelic guitar for something of a ’60s feel, yet with that modern rock twist. “Sex Type Thing” and “Dead and Bloated” shook the rafters to close the set, but the best was still to come.


“We’d like to introduce someone that’s part of the greatest rock ‘n’ roll band in history,” said Weiland at the beginning of the encore as he introduced Robbie Krieger from the Doors. The band then tore into a smoking “Roadhouse Blues,” with Weiland nailing Mr. Mojo Risin’s vocals while the DeLeo brothers and Krieger got off on what may have been the best jam of SXSW 2010. The electrifying performance thrilled the assembled, with this clearly being one of those rare and special moments that you hope to be lucky enough to catch at SXSW. Krieger exited triumphantly to a standing ovation and the band then wrapped it up with one of their best tunes, “Tripping on Hole in a Paper Heart.”


SXSW Music 2010, Day 2: Upping the Ante

AUSTIN – I sacrificed an extra hour of sleep to make it out for what was scheduled as an 11:35 am day party set from Sass Jordan, the sensational Canadian blues rock goddess that seems like she’d be more from a place like Austin. But the stage at the club had collapsed and they had to move to another venue, pushing their set back to 12:20 pm. I told Sass I’d catch one of her other two shows, because I had a moral imperative to catch the 12:30 pm panel on “Music and The Revolution,” featuring ex-Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers, Country Joe McDonald, the MC5’s Wayne Kramer and Kent State 1970 massacre survivor Alan Canfora. This was an amazing panel that I will report on in-depth in my SXSW wrap-up next week (along with more on all the following bands.)

Then there was a great panel on the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ seminal jazz-rock masterpiece, Bitches Brew. More on that next week as well. The 1969-70 revolutionary rock magic was clearly in the air…

After a quick lunch it was over to the Jambase Treehouse Party at Cheers Shot Bar on 6th Street, up on the roof deck. Very nice setting for Red Cortez, a band out of Los Angeles that are pals and tourmates with the Airborne Toxic Event. They have an edgier sound, but clearly some of that same soulful, tuneful indie-rock thing that has long been brewing in LA’s Silverlake district.

The Mother Hips from San Francisco rocked it next, throwing down a hot set of their rich, melodic and bluesy sound. Paul Hoagland even brought his 12-string custom Hamer bass, and did it ever sound great out in the sun in the 5 o’clock hour. I was originally planning to stick around to see a couple more bands, but some gear issues had pushed it all back a half hour. I rode my trusty Trek 800 over to Threadgills to meet a friend, where we also heard a bit of Austin legend Roky Erickson, from the 13th Floor Elevators. Classic sounds…

Then it was over to Auditorium Shores, where LA’s Ozomatli was headlining the free outdoor fest by Town Lake. The band entertained a huge audience, driving the crowd into a frenzy with a “Masters of Puppets” tease during one funky bluesy jam (recalling Metallica’s electrifying semi-secret performance at Stubbs during SXSW 2009.)

From there it was over to the Austin Music Hall for Stone Temple Pilots, who threw down a true headlining set of 90 minutes that featured some strong new material and just kept getting better. The peak was during the encore when Robbie Krieger of the Doors joined the band for “Roadhouse Blues”! Absolutely epic SXSW moment that seriously raised the bar for the rest of the weekend. Krieger tore it up.

Grace Potter & the Nocturnals were up to the task afterward at Antone’s, throwing down a captivating 75-minute set that went right up til 2 am, also featuring very strong material from their impending new album. At least three tunes went into sick jams catalyzed by the fantastic bass skills of new Nocturnal (and former Cardinal of Ryan Adams), Catherine Popper. The two of these gals were just dynamite and a hoped-for cover of “White Rabbit” did indeed materialize (they play it on the soundtrack for the new “Alice in Wonderland” flick), a great match on the evening with “Roadhouse Blues.”

Now I have to go find out when Potter & Co are playing tomorrow and try to get some sleep!


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