Stone Temple Pilots – [DVD]

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Without meaning to get a little bias brewing in readers from the start, I have to admit that it's tough for me to get excited at the prospect of a reformed Stone Temple Pilots. True, I've never been much of a fan (I really liked two albums – Purple and Tiny Music – Songs From The Vatican Gift Shop – but then went back to scoffing at the band and its fans as I had when Core came out in 1992), and I've always felt a little sorry for those who have said they were. STP is, after all, a group who has regularly abandoned its fans whenever it suited them, ditched on writing good songs in favor of just getting a record out (see No. 4 and such side projects as Army Of Anyone and Talk Show) and blamed it all on drug addiction when called out on their bullshit. Not only that but, while they haven't really gone out of their way to be incredibly active lately, they miraculously reform and book another tour every time they start running low on funds; it feels opportunistic to the point of being obscene.

With all that negative energy in mind, the back of most any viewer of Alive In The Windy City's would be up and they'll be looking very closely to try and decide what they're seeing in the DVD's ninety-two minute run-time; some will want to be able to renounce it, some will want justification for the length of time they've been fans. To be fair, Stone Temple Pilots sound absolutely great in this presentation; Scott Weiland's voice is in top form here, and it hasn't aged a day in spite of several reported drug relapses. He looks well too – in fact, everyone in Stone Temple Pilots has aged well – or at least it seems like they might have, but it's not easy to tell. On this DVD, the never-ending series of jump cuts between cameras and angles make it pretty difficult to get a clear, focused look at any member of the band; through tracks including “Vasoline,” “Crackerman,” “Wicked Garden” and “Hollywood Bitch” (the first four tracks of STP's set here), disjointed images of a megaphone, Scott Weiland taking his jacket off onstage, the DeLeo brothers and drummer Eric Kretz register, but it's difficult to tell if any instrument other than the drums is being played and – when Weiland is on camera, it's impossible to tell if he's actually singing because his mouth is regularly obscured, but the audio and video of the film appear to be a fraction of a second out of synch when it is possible to see the movements of his mouth. Because of that swirl of activity and confusion, the first four songs of Alive In The Windy City look like an extended television advertisement for a concert – not an actual presentation of a live performance.

The feeling that what we're watching is more of a poorly re-touched live performance or something that was shot on a sound stage continues to reassert itself as Alive In The Windy City continues and occasionally gets even more palpable as songs like “Big Empty” and “Sour Girl” play through, looking very much like deleted sequences from Queen Of The Damned and always sounding far more polished (and compressed) than any live show should theoretically be able to. That disbelief is a problem, because it leaves the film (and concert, by extension) open to debate on its legitimacy; on one hand, it could be argued that this Alive In The Windy City DVD is simply proof that Stone Temple Pilots really are that good of a live band but, on the other, the question could be raised whether anything about this show was actually live (the audio could have been re-recorded in post-production) and if this DVD isn't just a re-enactment of a concert. Whether this show actually happened the way it seems to have really doesn't matter though, does it? When it gets boiled right down, the music is the thing and this DVD features some great audio. If viewers can get past the fact that what's happening on their screens may require some suspension of disbelief and just focus on the music, they won't be disappointed.



Stone Temple Pilots' Alive In The Windy City DVD is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

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