Concert Review: Stone Temple Pilots @ The Palace of Auburn Hills, Detroit, MI (12/10/96)

In March of 1996 Stone Temple Pilots released their third record, Tiny Music…Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop. For some folks, this was three albums too many, as STP was pegged as a Pearl Jam/Alice In Chains wannabe on their first album Core.

Despite the fact that the follow-up Purple has some genuinely interesting moments, from the dusty 70s rock of “Interstate Love Song” and “Big Empty” to the slinky rockers like “Vasoline” and “Unglued,” the dye was set in most rock critics minds. From the start, that didn’t matter to me. STP wrote heavy, melodic music, and in the early nineties, that’s what I was interested in. I didn’t care if they weren’t a “real” grunge band, I cared what the music sounded like.

When Tiny Music came out, it was definitely a curve ball. Gone where the heavy Drop-D riffs, replaced with a poppy neo-glam sound with less distortion. I like when bands take detours, and this was definitely a detour. Unfortunately, lead singer Scott Weiland’s drug addiction was also a detour, so the band cancelled a bunch of shows on this tour, but my college roommate at the time and I were able to snag tickets to one the shows they ended up playing.

I had driven to Detroit for smaller shows at the Majestic, but never to an arena show. The was my second trip to the Palace (the first being a Cavs / Pistons game), and I’ve never been a huge fan of arena shows, but we managed to score fairly good seats. We were actually at about eye-level with the band, only we were just a few seats away from being completely parallel with the stage. It was odd seeing everything from the side, but it didn’t distract from the show.

Even after just three albums, the band was loaded with hits, and they played them all. Because I had played those first two album to death, even the deep tracks were familiar. At some point during the show, the band sat on stools at the front of the stage and performed acoustic versions of a few songs, which really showcased the talents of the DeLeo brothers on guitar, bass and backing vocals.

I can’t say that stayed current with the band after Tiny Music, but I when a song pops up on satellite radio in the car, there’s a good chance I turn it up rather than change the channel.