It’s 2017, and the Troubadour marquee reads “Stone Temple Pilots” on a Tuesday night. For even the most casual observer or passerby, that is a surreal and special experience. The legendary venue with a limited night club capacity played host to Stone Temple Pilots’ first show in a year and half, a show that was shrouded in mystery. This was an invite-only show for a lucky 500 fans of one of the most commercially successful bands on the 1990’s. Oh, and they were debuting a new singer, one in which they’ve been searching for ever since February of 2016.
Rumors have been swirling around for months when it came to the identity of said mystery frontman, but until tonight they were strictly that: rumors. In the age of WikiLeaks, it’s a modern-day miracle that the evening came about spoiler free. News feeds were barren. Twitter, strangely silent, a digital tumbleweed blowing through it. Even as the lucky 500 lined up in front of the venue, no one had a concrete idea of who it would be. The mystery was made even more curious as security confiscated the phones of every single attendee as they entered.
The venue was full, but not overcrowded. The lack of phones made for a liberating atmosphere. The anticipation was only partially addressed as the core of the band took the stage. The familiar brother Dean (guitar) and Robert DeLeo (bass), followed by Eric Kretz (drums). Before any more speculation could build, they were suddenly joined by a younger, bleach-blonde haired man wearing dark aviators, seemingly disguised, except a small name-tag on his shirt that simply read “JEFF.”
It was Jeff Gutt, of reality show “The X Factor” fame.
Without saying a word, the band went right into “Down,” featuring the lyrics, “Pleased to meet you, nice to know me,” thoroughly cementing a coy anti-climactic introduction. The fit was apparent. Gutt’s vocals were oddly familiar; his stage presence confident and aware. It seemed that Gutt could sense the shell-shock of the audience, signaling to the crowd to make some noise, seemingly waking everyone from their confusion induced stupor. The crowd became much more settled in for “Wicked Garden” and “Vasoline” Gutt seemingly in total control of the moment by this point.
Finally, the band took the time to formally introduce Jeff to the audience to a raucous applause, prompting him to finally take off his sunglasses and name-tag, before going into “Coma.” Things got eerie from there with the inclusion of hit songs “Interstate Love Song” and “Plush.” Eerie only because Gutt sounded so much like original frontman, the late, great Scott Weiland who passed away tragically in 2015. If you closed your eyes you couldn’t tell the difference, and that is not a slight to either artist in any capacity. It just made sense. Gutt appeared to acknowledge as much when he simply stated after the latter song, “That one was for Scott.”
A couple more familiar tracks “Big Empty” and “Still Remains” came next before the band went into a new track, “Meadow,” giving Gutt his first opportunity to make a STP song his very own. The band welcomed legendary proto punk band MC5’s Michael Kramer onto the stage to lead a cover of “Kick Out The Jams” before finishing the night completely with their seminal cuts “Sex Type Thing,” “Trippin’ On A Hole In A Paper Heart” and “Piece of Pie.”
In the end, the band came together and took a collective bow, arm in arm as the crowd chanted “S, T, P,” over and over. There was no encore, but it somehow seemed a fitting ending to the evening. A legendary band, with a new beginning.
Interstate Love Song
Kick Out The Jams (MC5 Cover)
Sex Type Thing
Trippin’ On A hole In A Paper Heart
Piece of Pie