1. Technically, it was “Stone Temple Pilots With Chester Bennington,” thanks to the band’s ongoing legal squabbles with former lead singer Scott Weiland. Bennington, of Linkin Park fame, is not a bad replacement for Weiland. He has a similar voice and even a similarly reptilian way of stalking the stage. The vibe wasn’t quite the same, and Weiland’s smoky rasp was missed on songs like “Big Empty,” but overall the band seemed in decent shape to move forward.
2. Credit must also go to bassist Robert DeLeo’s harmony vocals, whose importance was really highlighted with the change of singers. Whenever he stepped up to the mic, the songs sounded that much closer to the original recordings.
3. While the band sounded good, the concert set-up was some shady nonsense. Although it was billed as a free show (for The D’s first anniversary), the entire area in front of the stage was reserved for purchasers of various VIP packages, starting at $25. The result was packed crowds off to the far sides of the stage, and lots of empty space in the middle.
4. The high-end VIP area directly in front of the stage was barely filled, with a preponderance of middle-aged dudes in suits who didn’t seem particularly interested in the show. A guy standing next to me made a point of yelling obscenities and raising his middle finger at the apathetic high-rollers after every song.
5. By the end, though, even the energy up front picked up, thanks to a set packed mostly with hits (although “Plush” was conspicuously absent), alongside a couple of relatively well-received new songs from upcoming EP High Rise. The middle-finger guy even shared a fist-bump with a VIP. If only Weiland and his former bandmates could come together like that.