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[whitespace] Barely Rocking

Stone Temple Pilots took it all off for Return of the Rock concert Nov. 6 at the SJSU Event Center

By Sarah Quelland

"Return of the Rock" seemed a presumptuous title for MTV's tour package featuring Stone Temple Pilots, Godsmack and Disturbed. But the concert last Monday (Nov. 6) at the SJSU Event Center was a hard-hitting, balls-out rock show that left little room for improvement.

Disturbed

The star of OzzFest 2000's second stage, Disturbed, kicked off the night with songs from its golden debut, The Sickness, before giving the stage over to Godsmack.

Sirens blared as vocalist Sully Erna, guitarist Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill and drummer Tommy Stewart took their places on a stage guarded by imposing gargoyles perched like silent sentinels over ominous pentagrams. The band kicked off its performance with confidence, launching into its current single, "Awake," from its newly released sophomore album of the same name.

Pounding home the show's "Return of the Rock" theme, frontman Erna announced, "This is a motherfuckin' rock show. This is not a fuckin' widescreen TV."

Godsmack

Godsmack is well on its way to becoming one of the pillars of rock's new vanguard due to the strength of its recordings and the intensity of its live shows. Stirring up the pit, Erna invited every member of the sold-out audience to "kick as much fuckin' ass with us as humanly possible."

Rather than taking a straightforward approach, the band had fun with its material adding parts to its hefty songs. It pulled heavily from its triple-platinum self-titled debut ("Bad Religion," "Time Bomb," "Stress," "Get Up, Get Out," "Voodoo") and went easy on the new tunes. After a lengthy interlude inside the harsh "Keep Away," Erna smashed his guitar in true rock-star fashion before concluding the song. When the band closed with "Whatever," drummer Stewart abandoned his drumset to dive into the crowd, leaving the skilled Erna behind the drums to end the show with a dramatic flourish.

Stone Topping

It was hard to imagine how Stone Temple Pilots could top Godsmack's solid performance, but STP took the concert to another level.

Scott Weiland Sinewy frontman Scott Weiland is like a modern-day Jim Morrison, and STP's heavy psychedelic rock hearkens back to the spirit of the '60s.

The band kicked off with "Crackerman" before the curtain even opened, and when Weiland strutted out like the man in black carrying a bullhorn, the crowd went nuts.

Weiland proved to be a mesmerizing performer with an unpredictable sense of chaos that demands full attention. A lithe figure, he has the slinky grace of a cat, and throughout the night he danced and posed like a performance artist who'd just discovered his body.

After compelling renditions of "Vasoline," "Piece of Pie" and "Big Empty," the band softened for an acoustic version of "Sour Girl," filled with harmonies that would make '60s icons Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young weep. That was followed by the desperately pleading "Creep" from the band's 1992 debut, Core.

Weiland was in a playful mood, and when a giant LIVE 105 balloon landed onstage, he bounced it back into the audience. Loving the interaction, the crowd sent it back and Weiland held onto it while he sang.

Switching gears after the acoustic portion, he asked, "Would you guys like a little more electricity?" before playing the grunge-era hit "Interstate Love Song."

"I love all the crowd surfing thing," Weiland told the crowd and remarked, "It's an amazing honor too when the women get to do it without getting fondled." Perhaps he was hoping for the same courtesy as he waded deep into the throng during "Plush" and sang from there before rushing back to the stage.

STP closed with the intense riffs of No. 4's "Down," before coming back for a very special encore. That's when things got really interesting.

Former Willow Glen resident and STP drummer Eric Kretz tossed out an autographed drumhead and took his position in front of a giant gong as he and his band prepared to make the myths.

An eerie red light filtered over the stage and pulsating music played before the enigmatic Weiland entered with an American flag and announced, "Vote for me, and I'll set you free." This encore seemed specifically designed for the eve of what would become one of the most bizarre elections in history. Altered strains of "Star Spangled Banner" filled the air and Kretz ceremoniously hit the gong. The entire spectacle had a magical quality that brought to mind rock legends like Led Zeppelin and the Doors.

Disturbed frontman David Draiman returned to the stage to join Weiland for a raging "Dead & Bloated." By that time, the Weiland was shirtless, wearing long red evening gloves and waving the national flag. When the band kicked into the dirty groove of the controversial "Sex Type Thing," Weiland vamped back and forth across the stage, spinning out of control.

Earlier in the night when Weiland proposed, "I think everyone in the audience should take off all their clothes right now," no one could know he was foreshadowing the show's bold conclusion.

Weiland wrapped the stars and stripes around his waist like a towel, took off his pants and threw them into the audience. Guitarist Dean DeLeo dropped his trousers and finished the show naked from the waist down. Before it was all over, and the stage erupted in chaotic merriment, Weiland exited the stage without a stitch on leaving the crowd absolutely stunned. Now that's rock & roll.

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Web extra to the November 8-15, 2000 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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