It was mid-week, mid-November, when the late nineties rolled through Laval’s fresh Place Bell. I wouldn’t put my money on that combo, but, super jumbo grunge band Stone Temple Pilots pulled in a lot of hype in their co-headlining tour with Seether, and Default as support. With a 2018 album under their belt, Stone Temple Pilots looked to keep the train rolling with a new singer at the helm. Default pulled out a strong opening act, Seether fumbled through their co-headlining spot, and then STP showed up with a new Scott Weiland; there was a lot to process after the show.
Let’s begin by saying that the crowd flowed in to the arena like molasses. It was almost worrisome. When was the last time you showed up to a concert at an arena that ended being a total flop? All to say, there was no pre-show buzz in the air that you could usually catch upon entering the venue. The post-grunge demographic is a peculiar one, young at hearts, but seats in the pit. It all seemed a bit dialed back. Canadian outfit Default was the first aspect of the night that showed up invested with the show. I don’t know exactly how potent the post-grunge world is these days, but it must have been a mega nostalgia trip for anyone who was in their teens during the era. Default were tight and jabbed some life into the night. They pulled out stops like “Wasting My Time” to the excitement of their fans. Although the lighting seemed to be dim, the stage show didn’t match up with the sharpness of their performance. The night was off to a good start.
Co-headling with Stone Temple Pilots should demand more than what Seether brought to the table that night. All I could say for sure is that the songs were performed. Guitarist/Vocalist Shaun Morgan held down his station and was the staple to the paper, but there just seemed to be so many shaky moments throughout the set. From band members constantly pointing into the crowd with that over the top stage work, to ridiculously long pauses in between songs, the ship just seemed a bit whack. In between almost every damn song all the lights would go out, leaving the arena in darkness. As whatever the fuck needed to be done each time was being done, the band would embark on these half-assed jams. It honestly sounded as if they were playing in the dark…blindfolded…and not in a good way. The tones were not pretty and after about the fourth blackout stoppage in-between songs, it was clear that this headlining slot was going to drag. We get it; the early 2000s were a peculiar period for music, but damn Seether, why you do us like this?
After the hour long set was done, everybody looked to Stone Temple Pilots to drive it home, and you know what, to a lot of people I’m sure they did. They played all the Core classic and many other golden era tracks. The DeLeo brothers and drummer Eric Kretz looked and sounded in great shape, but the biggest hang up was the decision to march forward with a very blatant Scott Weiland copy. Jeff Gutt is what people would look like if they went to Halloween dressed as Scott Weiland. From the dyed jet-black hair, the scarf, leather jacket, bellbottoms, big dark sunglasses, and sexy serpentine moves, Gutt was Weiland. Of course, he wasn’t though which made the entire show a guilty pleasure. To replace a front man is no easy task, but it could be done: AC/DC, Alice in Chains, fucking Black Sabbath for Christ sake.
But the way that STP chose to carry on with a Weiland wannabe just seems in poor taste. Get someone who could perform, but don’t have them dress up like your dead bandmate. And you know, those guys obviously knew Scott personally and were friends and bandmates and who the fuck am I? But music is special and people get attached and touched by musicians like Weiland. Any other way of replacing him would have been better than what they did. Even performing new material seemed weird for the sheer fact that there was a fake Scott Weiland on stage. Not a Jeff Gutt, but a fake Weiland. Man, it was weird hearing your favourite songs and not being able to enjoy them because of this blockage in your gut.
I’m sure a lot of people would disagree and had a phenomenal time watching STP again. But fuck that. Dignity goes a long way. A very shaky bill, with shady look-a-likes and questionable motives. Sounds like 1999 to me.
Written by Ben Cornel
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy