Concert review: KROQ's 2010 Weenie Roast featuring Hole, Paramore, Stone Temple Pilots and more
Alt-rock nostalgia hung heavy in the pot-scented air Saturday night at Irvine’s Verizon Wireless Amphitheater, where recently resuscitated versions of Sublime, Stone Temple Pilots, Hole and Devo played KROQ-FM’s annual Weenie Roast concert.
“You guys remember this little ditty,” Courtney Love assured the sold-out crowd before revving up the serrated grunge pop of Hole’s 1998 hit “Celebrity Skin.” And sure enough, the audience roared in recognition, seemingly grateful for something familiar after a handful of tunes from “Nobody’s Daughter,” the unremarkable Hole album Love and a cast of new bandmates released earlier this year.
Other acts echoed Love’s acknowledgment of a creeping sense of cultural obsolescence.
“Here’s one you might remember,” said Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, introducing that group’s early-MTV staple “Whip It.”
Later, Stone Temple Pilots frontman Scott Weiland pulled a telling fake-out, baiting fans with the prospect of “another new one” from the group’s just-released self-titled effort, then launching into “Plush,” its 1992 smash. The feeling of relief inside Verizon was palpable.
Yet if Saturday’s show often felt like a blast from modern rock’s past, it also made a strong argument for the restorative value of old-school showmanship.
Or it did until its final hour, anyway, when Sublime With Rome took the stage for a headlining performance as awkward and charmless as the band’s litigiously inspired name. Sublime With Rome pairs the two surviving members of Long Beach’s Sublime -- bassist Eric Wilson and drummer Bud Gaugh -- with Rome Ramirez, a young singer-guitarist saddled with the unenviable task of filling in for Sublime’s original frontman, Bradley Nowell, who died in 1996. (The group’s unwieldy handle reflects a legal détente between the band and Nowell’s estate.)
In hugely appealing mid-’90s hits like “Santeria” and “What I Got,” Sublime combined mellow ska grooves and hard-edged punk riffs, a now-familiar fusion that embodied the duality at the center of Nowell’s complicated hood-poet persona. On Saturday, Ramirez remembered the words to those songs but failed to make them his own or to channel Nowell’s scrappy gravitas.
Stone Temple Pilots summoned a more believable esprit de corps during their hourlong set, which closed with a group hug among these notoriously combative grunge-era survivors. With the exception of “Between the Lines,” the album’s shamelessly Nirvana-esque single, selections from “Stone Temple Pilots” didn’t deliver the same charge as older songs such as “Vasoline” and “Sex Type Thing.” But the band sounded surprisingly forceful as Weiland stalked the stage with undimmed rock-star charisma.
Devo put similar muscle into fresh renditions of its once-edgy New Wave oldies, pummeling through “Girl U Want” with a punky propulsion that made it clear why many of Weenie Roast’s younger acts (including Paramore, Spoon and L.A.’s Silversun Pickups) peppered their early-evening appearances with shout-outs to the arty innovators.
Songs from “Something for Everybody,” a new Devo album due out next week, adhered to the band’s off-kilter formula but landed more softly, which made you wonder: Without a place in the larger pop landscape, how long will these reactivated cultural satirists survive?
-- Mikael Wood
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