Story by James West, The-Rocker.com
Photos by Danette West, TheRockerChic.com
San Diego, California, October 9th, 2019
Three generations of Rock music were featured this past Wednesday night at Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre on campus at San Diego State University.
Warbly Jets represent a band still finding its way and voice at the beginning of their career in entering yet a new decade of Rock and Roll. Rival Sons represent a band in their prime; having paid their dues and now riding success while still gaining new fans with every new release. Stone Temple Pilots represent a band that still have a lot to say and play at their stage of their career. Each generation overcoming different obstacles to still stay relevant in the ears and hearts of Rock and Roll fans.
WARBLY JETS TAKE FLIGHT
Los Angeles-based Indi-rock group Warbly Jets took flight and delivered an interesting set to start things off. I’ve never heard the band before, but I figured since we were on a college campus there would be some Warbly fans on hand to help guide us old-fogies along. I looked around though and saw mostly people of my own classic rock heritage (aka… old people) in attendance. But… you know what? Warbly Jets actually sounded pretty good to me, despite the heavy thumping setting on the bass drum that distracted a bit.
They sounded like a mix of Radiohead meets Black Keys to my ears, which isn’t a horrible combination, but I still wondered why they were on the bill with Rival Sons and STP.
“Propaganda” and “Shapeshifter” sounded good, and a lot better than most of the opening acts I’ve seen at The Greek in LA lately, so I was fine being “Warbly” for a little while…
RIVAL SONS ROCK REVIVAL
It has been five years since The Rocker Chic and I witnessed The Rival Sons at The Belly Up in Solana Beach, California and nearly ten years since first seeing them when they opened for AC/DC in Las Vegas, Nevada. I knew back in Vegas that I had found my favorite new Rock band, and I rushed to get my hands on all their CD’s; it was a feeling I hadn’t felt in a long time with a new band. To this day I still believe they are still the best Rock band to come out in the last decade of music.
“I love this town,” singer Jay Buchanan stated at the start of the Rival Sons set. “San Diego smells like both Mexican food and the beach!”
The “Feral Roots” backdrop provided the perfect ambiance to an incredible show that featured a great mix of new and older material. My favorite Sons songs “Pressure And Time” and “Keep On Swinging” rocked the house, but it was the softer fare that really captured the crowd’s hearts. Jay’s incredible vocal range and delivery on “Where I’ve Been”, “Feral Roots”, and “Face Of Light” proved why he has the best voice in Rock right now. The performance resonated similarly to that of classic Zeppelin and Free in their prime in a live setting.
I am also a huge fan of the Fuzzlord himself, Scott Holiday, and his performance Wednesday was nothing short of spectacular! His blues-based riffs and solos flowed effortlessly from his Firebird and other cool guitars he showcased during the set. I especially enjoyed the double-Gibson guitar- complete with Jimmy Page-inspired posing.
Todd Ögren stayed mostly in the background shadows on keyboards, but The Rocker Chic enjoyed trying to capture his beard swings and flips and that cool-ass hat!
Drummer Michael Miley was also in the shadows for most of the set but made his presence known with killer deep-pocket drumming and great fills. Bassist Dave Bestie helped keep the bottom down tight and even stepped up on some great bass fills while playing along to acoustic work by Jay and Scott. This is truly a band firing on all cylinders to the same beat.
“We are Rival Sons, and we play Rock and Roll Music!” Jay exclaimed at the end of their set, and their performance that night should leave no doubt that Rock is definitely not done yet.
STONE TEMPLE PILOTS BACK ON COURSE
The story of Stone Temple Pilots has been that of struggle; from being labeled as grunge in the early 90’s to overcoming the departure of Scott Weiland in the early 2000’s, and then Chester Bennington’s departure in 2015, followed shortly by both Weiland and Bennington’s untimely deaths. But it’s been the songs, the riffs, and the quality of their catalogue of great music that has survived and is now thriving again thanks to the relentless dedication of Dean and Robert DeLeo, Eric Kretz, and new singer Jeff Gutt. And nowhere has this been appreciated more than with their hometown San Diego fans this past Wednesday night.
With STP it was also a different vibe than what The Rocker Chic and I had witnessed last year when we saw the band play with The Cult and Bush in Riverside, California. A year ago we were impressed by the beautiful backdrops and lighting that accentuated the Pilot’s somewhat reserved performance. Jeff Gutt seemed to still be feeling out his role in the band, but you could tell the voice was there and that he had great potential as a front man. The band sounded great but still seemed to be still shaking off the cobwebs of performing live, especially with a new soul singing their songs.
Wednesday night the Pilots were full of energy and aggression, and singer Jeff Gutt was totally comfortable and confident in his new position with the band. Jeff’s voice was incredibly “Weiland-like” but with an extra boost of assertiveness that made the songs all his own. The same was true with his performance as his confidence dominated the stage and the crowd in attendance. He descended multiple times into the audience and sang his heart out for us. The new STP material also blended very well with the classic Weiland hits.
But it’s not just the hits that have kept fans wanting more Stone Temple Pilots after all these years. Just listen to any STP album and sure, you’ll get the hits, but you’ll also get songs that are just as good as the hits. This is why I love this band. Just like their influences Aerosmith and Led Zeppelin, the best STP songs are not necessarily what you heard or saw on MTV.
I was also blown away Wednesday night by Dean Deleo’s guitar performance. Song after great STP song his riffs ripped through the night air with precision and fantastic tone. I was on cloud nine just from the power I felt through those Marshall amps! His brother Robert was fun to watch also as he seemed to dance with his bass throughout the performance. Drummer Eric Kretz was powerful all set, and The Rocker Chic was having fun also catching his wind-blown hair in the bright lights on camera.
Michael Miley from Rival Sons got in on the fun during “Plush”, and the Son’s front man Jay Buchanan even joined Jeff Gutt on stage to perform “Interstate Love Affair” to the delight of the crowd. During their six-week tour together you could tell these two bands had a great time together and showed much respect to each other during the tour.
There was no topping the performance I witnessed by Rival Sons Wednesday night, but Stone Temple Pilots proved they still have the drive, determination, and talent to draw a new decade of STP fans into the fold. Rock and Roll will Never Die, but it may smell a little like Mexican Food and The Beach, which is perfectly fine with me.