Looking at the line-up of Saturday night’s (9/21/2019) concert at Stage AE seemed to be just a bit incongruent. The Alt-Rock legends Stone Temple Pilots were co-headlining with classic rock throwback band Rival Sons and openers blues-based rock band Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown. But upon further inspection it was a testament that true rock n roll never needs a label or slot to fit in, the influences and end product may be varied, but as long as the result is amazing music it matters not.
When I tell people I am covering STP they seem to always ask, “Are they any good?”. The quick answer to that is yes but the long answer has more to do with how fantastic new lead singer Jeff Gutt is. Oftentimes, bands that have lost members for one reason or another reform to seem more like a cover band with some of the originals. STP does not fall into that category by a long shot. With the DeLeo brothers, Dean and Robert along with Erik Kretz are all original members. The addition of Gutt, who became noticed on the talent competition show The X Factor, has worked out as the replacement of Weiland (due to his death in 2015) due to his ability to be just enough Scott while still being Jeff. For comparison, it is somewhat like Adam Lambert and Queen, no it’s not the exact same but the does not mean the formula is not super entertaining.
Opening with the hard hitter “Coma,” the band launched right into a flurry of their most popular and fan beloved songs. Robert DeLeo and Dean DeLeo worked their guitar and bass magic along with drummer Kretz to pull off very true to recording renditions, allowing Gutt to interact with the audience, including even jumping into the photo pit to sing and psych up the audience. Taking everyone right back to their 90’s heyday, the band hit up “Wicked Garden,” “Vasoline,” and “Crackerman,” in quick succession, leaving some fans breathless. Other highlights included “Lounge Fly,” “Big Empty,” “Plush,” “Interstate Love Song,” and of course their original hit “Sex Type Thing”. One need only witness the band live to see how relevant and vastly satisfying STP has become.
To sum up co-headliner Rival Sons performance…holy fucking shit. These guys are the saviors of rock n’ roll if there ever was one. They are sexy and dangerous, yet refined and perfectly blended. Imagine taking all the fave classic rockers like The Stones, Zep, Creem, Joe Cocker, etc. and mixing them with some gospel, soul, and a tinge of country, that just scratches the surface of Rival Sons. Lead singer Jay Buchanan has this voice that just sucks you in and won’t let go. Guitarist Scott Holiday is a damn fuzz loving guitar god with so many riffs it should make any guitarist green with envy. The percussion of Michael Miley is such an integral part of their sound along with bassist Dave Beste that it completes their audibly familiar sound while remaining a style all their own.
Opening with “Back In The Woods” from new album Feral Roots they captured the audience immediately. The entire crowd seemed to suddenly start moving to the groove and singing along. Following up with “Open My Eyes” from Great Western Valkyrie and another new track “Look Away”, Buchanan strapped on a gorgeous acoustic and Holiday donned a double-neck Gibson SG that Page was so famous for. As they moved along in their set it was easy to understand why their fans are so loyal. The band first made a splash with the debut album Before The Fire and has continued to put out mega-solid LP’s very consistently in roughly two-year increments. they have a ton of incredible material to draw from and they smattered in some “older” material with a lot of new stuff which was great. Feral Roots is an absolute 10, and arguably their best effort to date, so it was quite the experience to hear those songs live. One of the highlights would have to be their performance of “Electric Man” (Great Western Valkyrie) and closer “Do Your Worst” (Feral Roots) it was like witnessing two instant classic songs from a band that has blessed by the rock gods of yesteryear. Rival Sons have so much energy and swagger that it’s hard not to get caught up in their jetstream. Here’s hoping that they come back to Pittsburgh very soon to blow our minds again.
Opening band Tyler Bryant and The Shakedown are made up of some seriously talented individuals. Tyler (lead guitar and vocals) was discovered by many (including this writer) in the documentary Rock Prophecies, a 2009 documentary about rock ‘n’ roll photographer Robert M. Knight. He turned heads as the next Stevie Ray Vaughn from the time he was in his early teens. Graham Whitford, son of Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, is an additional weapon on guitar to add to their blues-rock sound. These guys are road vets who have spent their time opening for bands like AC/DC, BB King, Clapton, Jeff Beck, ZZ Top, and even Guns N’ Roses. No doubt they will back in Pittsburgh and I highly suggest you catch them,