Local Scene: 09/02/10

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STP show unsound

Based on e-mail that's poured in about the Stone Temple Pilots show last Saturday at the First Niagara Pavilion, I've concluded that we weren't all at the same concert.

My PG review suggested that singer Scott Weiland seemed to be the weak link, but also noted that it was hard to say whether or not his vocals were flat or the victim of a bad sound mix. It was an unfortunate coincidence coming at the end of a week when rumors were flying that he was lip-synching after he fell off the stage in Cincinnati and managed to keep singing. He stopped after the second song here to debunk those rumors.

Anyway, I should note that I started the show down in the front row of the seats (behind the fenced-in area that went about 10 people deep). Because I had to file the review by 11 p.m., and there were a bunch of happy drunk people jumping around, spilling beers, etc., after about six songs I moved to the back left side of the pavilion. The vocals didn't sound radically different to me from either spot, but it was noticeable that many of the upper-tier-pavilion and lawn people didn't seem all that engaged in the show.

Apparently, the lawn crowd could barely hear the vocals.

"My son and I have seen about a half-dozen STP shows," Bill B wrote. "Weiland was always front and center in the mix ... this past Saturday the sound was horrendous as though it wasn't mixed at all and Weiland's vocals couldn't be heard anywhere, especially on the lawn. He was wondering what was wrong, why the crowd was quiet. Well, if the crowd made any noise at all nobody would have been able to hear anything. All in all, it's too bad. STP usually put on a great show, they feed off of the audience. Without anything to feed off of they went flat."

"Shame on [First Niagara Pavilion] for allowing hundreds of fans to walk out of the Stone Temple Pilots concert due to a sound issue without explanation!" Shawn H. wrote. "I was one of those fans! I cannot believe how that was handled! The paying fans on the lawn could not hear Scott's voice over the music! The concert should have been halted, and explained that there was a problem with the sound!... I am very angry and disgusted about how it was handled."

DJ K wrote, "I don't disagree that the band's energy level may have dropped at points during the show which for most may have made the experience just OK. But I'm not sure this was the real reason people [Saturday] night were underwhelmed. I was on the lawn and could not hear a thing -- it was like listening to STP instrumental tracks. And I certainly heard more than one person say 'turn your mike on.' We moved around and even went down to one of the pavilion's side entrances and still no real vocals. Customer service at the First Niagara Pavilion knew about the issue, said it was some sort of technical issue impacting the speakers and suggested people move to the left side of the venue. Not really a solution in my opinion. So while I can agree with your thoughts on the band and the inconsistent performance, I can't blame them entirely. For me, First Niagara Pavilion ruined the show."

James G, a musician himself, noticed some other problems with the set: "The massive sound issues aside, the band just seemed out of it. It looked to me to be a group in full revolt against one another. The DeLeo brothers repeatedly would just noodle aimlessly between tunes, often playing over top of Weiland's rambling. That is a sure sign of bored, irritated musicians. Their time and feel was off on a number of tunes, as were the harmonies between Rob DeLeo and Weiland (those were just painful, especially because Rob DeLeo's harmony vocal was significantly louder in the mix than Weiland's vocal in the mix out on the lawn)."

Melissa D. took matters into her own hands and was rewarded for it: "I attended the show on the 28th after waiting so many years for STP to tour again... Twelve years and six kids later I finally had the chance to see them again at the same venue, I was beyond excited to have the chance to relive a little piece of my youth. As you know when they started playing, you couldn't hear a single word. I was going to leave there very disappointed, I had driven three hours each way just to see them. Thankfully my boyfriend spoke to management who felt our pain and put us right up front in the pit!! That turned my night around from sheer disappointment to the greatest concert experience of my life, even if it was only for 45 minutes."

Tim D. had tickets up front and went home happy: "I respectfully disagree with your take on the STP concert. I sat in the 6th row, where the sound was fantastic. Loud and clean! I thought that was one amazing rock band that put on an awesome rock concert... Weiland's vocals were strong, all night long."

What do we conclude from all this? The lawn tickets were cheap -- as low as $10 -- but I feel bad for the people who made the effort to go out there and only got the STP karaoke track. Ideally, the show should have been stopped until the bugs were worked out (First Niagara Pavilion management would not comment on the incident).

As for the review, I feel less than great about being critical of Scott Weiland if it was more a technical than a vocal cord problem.

Wiz drops the 'Black and Yellow'

On his first single for Rostrum/Atlantic, Wiz Khalifa doesn't flash his beloved Black and Gold but his "Black and Yellow."

"A 412 exclusive," as it says repeatedly, the first major label single from Pittsburgh's 22-year-old rising star evokes our city's colors, but finds him rapping about his car. The song has slick production from Stargate and a good radio hook on the chorus of "You know what it is/everything I do, I do it big."

Already, the single has brought out the haters and defenders on rap web sites, with some arguing "Wiz lost his real underground swag" and others forcefully backing him and the Taylor Gang.

With the new single out, the rapper is about to launch his 50-city national Waken Baken tour beginning Sept. 16 in Philadelphia and running through Nov. 21. He recently "respectfully declined" an invitation to tour with Drake. He said in an interview, "I would rather be the boss of my own [stuff]."

-- Scott Mervis, smervis@post-gazette.com ; 412-263-2576


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