BY JOSE MARTINEZ
Celebrating its twentieth anniversary, The Viper Room, the dark and tiny club that Johnny Depp used to co-own when it first opened back in 1993, the same year that actor River Phoenix died of a drug overdose on Halloween night right in front of the West Hollywood nightclub, was the place to be again this weekend as former Stone Temple Pilots’ singer Scott Weiland performed two sold out shows.
Taking place during the Sunset Strip Music Festival, these shows were a separate admission and were all about celebrating The Viper Room, which at one-time was the hot spot in town where all the stars would hangout, even Counting Crows’ singer Adam Duritz would bartend (serving beers) during the ‘90s. The Viper Room is still home to big shows (both known and secret) and the buzz surrounding Scott Weiland & The Walkabouts was reminiscent to the club’s glory days.
Weiland and his band, which oddly enough don’t have any of the singer’s fashion sense, which makes me wonder if they’ll be permanent members, started with a sloppy jam that made me question if the singer was fully sober. But Weiland looked good and I’ll gladly give him the benefit of the doubt. Familiar songs soon followed but albeit tweaked and not in the unaltered way fans probably wanted, but then again, the packed room, where fans were squeezed like sardines, seemed to relish every moment.
Performing a myriad of cover songs including David Bowie’s “Jean Genie” and Jane’s Addiction’s “Mountain Song,” the hour-long set included mostly STP favorites, such as “Dead & Bloated,” “Sex Type Thing,” “Wicked Garden,” “Crackerman,” “Vasoline” and “Interstate Love Song,” in between new and unfamiliar tracks.
While I recall watching Weiland and pre STP, then known as Mighty Joe Young, in Hollywood clubs back in the early ‘90s, it was great to see him play once again where it all began. Sure, his STP band mates may have seemingly ditched him for Linkin Park’s Chester Bennington, although I’m sure we’ll see them reunited again, Weiland, even though I’ve often accused him of borrowing too much from the Bowie and Perry Farrell closet, is still a commanding presence onstage that mesmerizes with a sex-laden swagger that too many of today’s performers either forgot about or just never had.