Stone Temple Pilots May 17, 2008 Rock on the Range, Crew Stadium

As a longtime fan, the sort who writes breathless defenses and unironically wears a No. 4-era T-shirt, I was delighted to learn Stone Temple Pilots would be playing their first show in almost six years at Crew Stadium's Rock on the Range festival. (Some folks have claimed this is STP's first gig in seven or eight years, but I distinctly remember seeing them at LC Pavilion in late 2002, so that can't be right.)

Unfairly maligned for lacking "cred" in a hopelessly cred-conscious era, Scott Weiland and company have always been great at what they do. That would be blending classic pop, hard rock and glam into a stadium-ready rock cocktail, a big, dumb sound augmented by big, dumb lyrics and plenty of rock-star posing to boot.

STP does not make thinking man's music, but that does not forbid the thinking man from appreciating STP. And appreciate them I did Saturday night.

Stone Temple Pilots May 17, 2008 Rock on the Range, Crew Stadium

As a longtime fan, the sort who writes breathless defenses and unironically wears a No. 4-era T-shirt, I was delighted to learn Stone Temple Pilots would be playing their first show in almost six years at Crew Stadium's Rock on the Range festival. (Some folks have claimed this is STP's first gig in seven or eight years, but I distinctly remember seeing them at LC Pavilion in late 2002, so that can't be right.)

Unfairly maligned for lacking "cred" in a hopelessly cred-conscious era, Scott Weiland and company have always been great at what they do. That would be blending classic pop, hard rock and glam into a stadium-ready rock cocktail, a big, dumb sound augmented by big, dumb lyrics and plenty of rock-star posing to boot.

STP does not make thinking man's music, but that does not forbid the thinking man from appreciating STP. And appreciate them I did Saturday night.

I'm not much interested in most of the bands that played this festival, so I showed up Saturday mere minutes before STP took the stage. Flanked by massive speakers and banners, the stadium's new stage looked like a smart addition. This had the look of a proper rock show.

Perhaps the cumulative effect of standing through a day's worth of abysmal nu-metal would have made this moment more electric, but for some reason I didn't feel the kind of hair-raising anticipation that comes before a big-time band takes the stage. Maybe it was my exile status—banished to the bleachers, I felt far from the action from the start. But whatever the reason for my low level of enthusiasm, STP did nothing to raise it by opening with "Big Empty."

The hit Purple-era ballad is one of the more poorly crafted songs in the STP catalog, so I would have preferred if they skipped it altogether. (Yeah, right. A festival like this one demands the hits.) But beginning the set that way was practically a crime considering the healthy stash of powerful opening anthems this band has up its sleeve. The too-quiet PA didn't help matters.

They followed "Big Empty" with a passable "Wicked Garden" and a shaky "Big Bang Baby," but by the time Weiland began removing garments from his swanky three-piece suit, the band got into a groove. The volume level also increased to a more stadium-appropriate level—either that or my ears adjusted. The band banged out a solid stretch of rock and pop tunes before halting their momentum with back to back godawful ballads, "Sour Girl" and "Creep." (OK, the slow stuff isn't STP's strong suit.)

They didn't fully hit their stride until they launched into "Plush," a nonsensical singalong that has aged well. From there, it built momentum with a string of hits ("Interstate Love Song," "Sex Type Thing") and obscurities ("Coma," "All In the Suit That You Wear") that peaked with the brutishly wonderful "Down," which really should have opened this shindig. Will I follow you down, Mr. Weiland? Yes; yes I will.

They wrapped up by, in the singer's words, "saving the motherf---ing best for last" with a splendid "Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart" before returning to play "Dead and Bloated" for the encore. A quick bow at the front of the stage, and away they went to a summer of stardom once again.

Somewhere along the way, Weiland muttered something about mixing up the setlists from night to night to please himself and the fans. This, though, was to be a night of radio standards. Yeah, I would have been pleased with a few more pop gems ("Still Remains" would have been killer) and lesser known rockers ("Pruno," perhaps?). But few could complain about a set like this from such a strong singles band. The players locked into rock equilibrium, Scott Weiland spun around with a megaphone and Stone Temple Pilots were back to ruling the stage with or without critical acclaim.

"Interstate Love Song"

"Down"

Setlist: Big Empty Wicked Garden Big Bang Baby Vasoline Lady Picture Show Lounge Fly Crackerman Sour Girl Creep Plush Interstate Love Song Coma Down All In the Suit That You Wear Sex Type Thing Trippin' on a Hole In a Paper Heart ----- Encore: Dead and Bloated