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Monday, Feb. 2, 2009

Scott Weiland @ The Pabst Theater

Jan. 30, 2009

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An hour after his scheduled start time, Scott Weiland took the stage not to a taut rock riff or a triumphant Stone Temple Pilots hit but… a 20-minute blues jam. With reggae undertones. On which he played Theremin. With his back to the crowd.

It was a horrid beginning to a performance that would continue to find bizarre new ways to disappoint.

The show was damned from the start. Weiland’s finicky, hard-rock lounge singer shtick only works when he’s supported by a really great hard-rock band, but for this tour he assembled a group of players unfit to play the smallest Janesville corner bar. Lead guitarist Doug Grean demonstrated that the only thing worse than a horrible guitarist is a horrible guitarist who fathoms himself a master. With an aversion to nuance or melody, he tunelessly shredded away throughout the set with the implicit—unforgivable—permission of Weiland, who stood by laconically through jam after clumsy jam.

Weiland’s performance was more proficient but no less bizarre than Grean’s. When he wasn’t emitting shrill, Perry Farrell-ish cries, he was shoehorning his David Bowie impression into songs where it didn’t belong—like a tragic cover of “Reel Around the Fountain.” Pinned between Weiland’s groan and Grean’s overzealous Eddie Van Halen licks, that beloved Smiths songs squealed like a pained pig, and most of the set was subjected to that same Deliverance treatment, even the few Stone Temple Pilots songs Weiland brusquely tossed the dour crowd. There were to be no highlights at this ruinous performance. If the band happened to play a song the audience wanted to hear, it was only to mangle it.