Stone Temple Pilots had a Sweet Water moment Sunday night.
What’s a Sweet Water moment? Well, my buddy coined the phrase after my disappointment over Sweet Water’s return to Bumbershoot Saturday following a 13-year absence. Sweet Water is a band I worshiped at the shrine of during my teenage years and the reformed after breaking up in the late 1990s. Their appearance at Bumbershoot was probably the set I was most looking forward too but unfortunately my rock ‘n’ roll heroes didn’t deliver and seemed more like older, less rocking shells of themselves. Needless to say I was pretty much heartbroken.
Now, just about every STP fan who was at Sunday’s main stage show should know exactly how I feel because STP had a Sweet Water moment.
For beginners, Scott Weiland showed up 30 minutes later than the scheduled set time. He actually had to take a tour bus to the stage. No joke, the tour bus actually pulled up to the side of the stage 25 minutes after the set was supposed to begin. I envisioned the three non-Weiland members of STP reviving him from a coma with a needle of adrenaline a la Uma Thurman and John Travolta in “Pulp Fiction.” Sadly, knowing STP’s reunion tour’s history, that scenario could actually have been what was happening.
But that’s just the start of things. The set began with “Big Empty,” which is kind of a lame way to start a set when you have as many powerful arena rock songs like STP does, and from there Weiland and crew delivered one of the worst performances I have seen by a major recording artist.
Weiland himself seemed to be somewhat able to perform. He was shimmying and swaying and dancing all over the stage. He even said a few things to the crowd. I’d love to tell you what he was saying but for the most part his mumbling was indecipherable except for when he said he visited Bumbershoot in 1990 as a spectator.
There were a few redeemable moments during the set as a few songs were executed well, including “Sex Type Thing” and “Vasoline,” but throughout the set STP seemed like a pathetic former shell of itself riding the reunion money train.
For example, there was a large video screen behind the band — a staple of arena rock shows — but it wasn’t used to show the band. Instead it was used to show pretty simple graphics that looked like something you might see on your Windows Media Player or as a screen saver on a computer running DOS. You’d think they could do a little better, but I suppose the less you spend on fancy graphics, or say a camera guy to shoot the band, the more money the band makes.
Another example was the horrible renditions of “Creep” and “Sour Girl,” two of the more delicate songs in STP’s catalog. The latter was sped up to near double temp and Weiland seemed to struggle to keep up (he flubbed lyrics, trailed off during songs and even forgot the words to some songs). I know it’s cliché, but I think it’s definitely appropriate and accurate to say that when Weiland sang “I’m half the man I used to be” during “Creep” he meant it.