Wicked Garden: Stone Temple Pilots, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ Nokia Theater LA, 10/29/10

I wasn’t very excited to go to this show.

6 days before, I’d seen it in Corpus Christi, and it was just…ok. Not bad, just not a standout. But this show would end up being lightyears better.

We walked up to the venue about an hour before doors and there’s barely a line. This area of LA is so bizarre; it’s like Times Square meets Vegas with all the flashing lights and people roaming around.

It’s kind of a mess getting in, but once inside I was astonished by this venue. It was huge, but the pit was tiny. But the main thing was that the barrier was super close to the stage, which was very low. So I could reach my hand straight out and touch the stage. After my experience in Corpus Christi, I knew this would completely change my show experience. The only thing is that the speakers are a bit behind you, so vocals can get slightly lost. However, the sound here is SO loud that you don’t really miss it.

I was there for BRMC’s first show of the U.S. tour, so it only made sense for me to be there for the last. As the band walked out on stage, our excitement boiled over, and the icing was Rob’s big bad wolf hat he was wearing for his Halloween costume. As they took their spots, it was easy to forget that we were in such a giant venue, as the setup made it seem almost as intimate as some of the smaller venues I’ve seen them in. The only indication it was not was the giant BRMC backdrop hanging at the back of the stage. When Peter Hayes hit his first note, I thought my earplugs weren’t in it was so loud. They played not like the venue was still half empty, or that people were talking, but like they were playing their final notes for the fans in their town. Since I knew it was the same set as I had just seen, I let my mind wander over the memories of my other 6 shows this year, how my life was in such a different place when I saw them, how this music has gotten me through so much this year, how both Rob and I lost a parent within a month of each other, how it’s very tempting to take off and go to Europe to see them around the holidays I so don’t want to be here for….Then, as ‘Shadow’s Keeper’ came to a close I saw them exchange glances, and we got ‘Open Invitation’ as the final song, which made me very, very happy.

“On and on
I’ve been waiting on the open invitation
Your silence show me no relation
In the rising cold
Don’t you feel alone
I’ll be standing with your sorrow
All you left me’s gone away tomorrow
And we may never be here again
And we may never be here again”

By now the venue had mostly filled up. I was watching people gather side stage. Three old ladies were wheeled out together, offset by at least a dozen small children. It was definitely going to be a family friendly show this evening.

When the lights dimmed and the band ran out on stage, it was one of those total “whoa” moments and I instantly knew this would blow that last mediocre show away. While Hayes had stayed back behind his mic, Dean DeLeo and Scott Weiland were immediately in our faces, so close, running around like crazy. I’d liken it to when I first watched HDTV, and my eyes felt like they couldn’t fully process the perfect clarity of the picture…it was intense.

The energy was insane and you could tell this was essentially a hometown show for them. Weiland was completely on, maybe the best I’ve ever seen him. Dean was almost out of control, playing his guitar between Weiland’s legs at the beginning of ‘Crackerman’, jumping, stomping, and spinning around to the point that it looked like he’d trip over his cord, and tripping down to his knees at one point going to the center platform at the end of the first song. Close enough to see fingernails, jewelry, every breath taken….it was surreal. And the weird part was that no one standing behind me even touched me the entire night.

I forgot to mention in my last STP post how much ‘Between the Lines’ sounds like Nirvana’s ‘Stay Away’ at parts. Apparently I’m not the only person to notice that. We got a fantastic extended rendition of ‘Still Remains’.

“Our bed we live, our bed we sleep
Making love and I become you
Flesh is warm with naked feet
Stabbing thorns and you become me

Oh, I’d beg for you, you know I’ll beg for you

Pick a song and sing a yellow nectarine
Take a bath I’ll drink the water that you leave
If you should die before me ask if you could bring a friend
Pick a flower hold your breath and drift away”

Now that, my friends, is a love song.

Weiland goes to introduce the next song as ‘a little song by a big band’, when the rest of the guys alert him that there’s another song first, so he corrects himself by saying, ‘it’s a song by a slightly smaller band’ before launching into ‘Big Empty’.

During ‘Big Empty’, I’m mouthing along the words, thinking about how that was the title of my last STP piece, and what that song means to me. I’m watching Dean play the slide guitar right in front of my face, thinking about how I’d talked about how skilled he is at that, when he looks at me and nods his head and mouths something that I can’t remember because I went into ‘whoa-mode’ and I reach my hand up and he gives me his slide. What are the chances of that? Such a bizarre coincidence…every other slide he used that evening was tossed to his tech at the side of the stage.

So apparently Weiland’s drink of choice now is apple juice, as it’s labeled very clearly ‘Scott’s Apple Juice’ in front of the drum kit.

The band left the stage after ‘Down’, only to quickly return, Weiland with his son in tow. Weiland seems to be giving him a pep talk, and his son seems pretty scared. But then, his little voice starts singing the beginning of ‘Dead and Bloated’ through the megaphone.

They finish big with ‘Trippin on a Hole in a Paper Heart’ letting all of their kids come out and take the bow with them. STP have a lot of little kids. This part was just another reminder to me that here I am at the rail at an STP show, acting the same as I did as a teenager, while here is that raucous rock band all grown up.

“Can you feel like a child ?
Can you see what I want ?
I wanna run through your wicked garden
Heard that’s the place to find ya
But I’m alive
So alive now
I know the darkness blinds you

Can you see without eyes ?
Can you speak without lies ?
I wanna drink from you naked fountain
I can drown your sorrows
I’m gonna burn, burn you to life now
Out of the chains that bind you

Can you see just like a child ?
Can you see just what I want ?
Can I bring you back to life ?
Are you scared of life ?

Burn, burn, burn
Burn your wicked garden down
Burn, burn, burn
Burn your wicked garden to the ground

Can you feel pain inside ?
Can you love ?
Can you cry ?
I wanna run through your wicked garden
Heard that’s the place to find you
‘Cause I’m alive
So alive now
Out of the dark that blinds you

Can you see just like a child ?
Can you see just what I want ?
Can I bring you back to life ?
Are you scared of life ?”

I don’t know why this song hit me so hard this evening. It’s probably because I’m in LA, thinking about my life. I have a house but not a home. I’ve been living out of a suitcase, in a hotel room-like environment since July. I have great friends, but no one to share my day to day life with. I don’t have a real job, no bills, no commitments…it’s a strange place to be. I am mostly enjoying it- my weird little lifestyle- but every now and then a switch flips, and I think about having a home with all my possessions in sight, someone to come home to, what it would feel like to be pregnant, to have a kid…..

And then I realize, that’s just not my life.

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