Dallas To hear Scott Weiland explain it, the train-wreck taking place on stage at the House of Blues Wednesday night was deliberate.
"What we decided we would do when we embarked on this grand endeavor -- what we did was make them [these songs] our own," Weiland said, during one of several rambling asides. "They are songs written by Stone Temple Pilots, but we sprinkle our fairy dust on them."
The explanation provided little comfort for anyone expecting the semblance of an entertaining evening. Weiland, who was (or wasn't, depending upon whom you trust) fired by Stone Temple Pilots last month, has undertaken a national tour with his newly formed backing band, the Wildabouts.
In theory, the show, billed as the "Purple to the Core" tour, showcases tracks from the first two STP records. And Weiland did perform selections from each album, albeit in ways that even diehard fans would struggle to recognize (remember the organ solo in Wicked Garden? Me either!).
Arriving on stage just after 11 p.m., some 90 minutes after L.A. rockers Miggs, the last opening act, had left the stage (and some fans had begun to boo his tardiness), Weiland, clad in a sharp gray suit and clutching a smoldering cigarette, offered a barely audible apology.
"I just wanna say from the bottom of my heart, I apologize for you having to wait," he murmured to the crowd of a few hundred, and then spent the next 70 minutes dismantling whatever legacy STP has left.
The most crucial difference between the Wildabouts and his STP bandmates is skill. Where the DeLeo brothers, Dean and Robert, and drummer Eric Kretz provided a kinetic and richly textured rhythm section, the Wildabouts were, collectively and apart, colorless, uninspired and workmanlike. In lieu of Dean DeLeo's signature guitar solos, electronic organ was often added to cover the lack of bite staples like Crackerman or Wicked Garden sport on record.
First, it was depressing -- here stood Weiland, living up to the rock star cliche of cashing in on past success by phoning it in in the present. Then, it was maddening -- "Purple to the Core" didn't exactly meet the standards of bait and switch, but when Weiland abruptly spun out of the rarely performed Where the River Goes and into Jane's Addiction's Mountain Song, apropos of nothing, it began to feel like an evening beyond anyone's control.
Five years ago, when Stone Temple Pilots ripped into a triumphant set at Verizon Theatre, it seemed as though Weiland was back on firm footing, and the band could spend its autumn years touring and recording, upholding its place as one of the '90s seminal rock groups. But that confident showing is just a memory now, a remembrance further tarnished by Weiland's abysmal, crass "endeavor" one hopes is the nadir of his professional career. It's hard to imagine anything more unpleasant than this.