Stone Temple Pilots & Filter Take On NJ’s Starland Ballroom

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Newly Reformed Stone Temple Pilots Perform at Legendary Starland Ballroom

Despite the initial wariness of many Stone Temple Pilot fans, it seems the Chester Bennington/STP collaboration may be one of the best unions the rock world has seen in quite a while. Bennington, who also serves as the singer of Grammy Award-nominated band Linkin Park, replaced fired STP singer Scott Weiland in May.

On September 6th, STP and Bennington performed at the reopening of Sayreville, NJ’s Starland Ballroom. The venue, which previously hosted legendary talents including Bruce Springsteen, The Pretenders and Alice in Chains, had been ravaged by Hurricane Sandy and left submerged beneath six feet of water. Following countless hours of repairs, Starland’s doors reopened to begin a new era of Jersey rock shows.

The energy surrounding Starland was unparalleled; while most were eager just to catch the newly reformed STP, some fans were merely content to be attending a Starland concert once more. The venue is known for better immersing fans in the concert experience. Due to the location’s rather small size, each attendee is offered a close-up glimpse of the evening’s talent regardless of their position in the venue.

At 7 p.m., doors opened to allow fans to file in, where they were greeted with the heavy-hitting sounds of Trimm. Fittingly, the Jersey-based band was the first to grace the venue’s stage since Starland’s doors closed. Although the venue seemed to lack a strong audience presence, this changed quickly once the time came for Filter to take the stage. The main floor became swamped with fans of the alternative rock- and occasional industrial rock- band, many bedecked with shirts bearing the band’s iconic oval logo.

Frontman Richard Patrick took command of the stage with ease, displaying energy reminiscent of early punk rockers. They launched into “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do,” Filter’s collaboration with electronic music group The Crystal Method. Patrick’s raw vocals sounded just as entrancing live as in the studio, a trait common in some of the best rock bands, but unfortunately lost among many contemporary acts.

Mid-set, Filter treated the crowd to one of their best-known songs, “Take a Picture.” The room took on an atmosphere of pure serenity as fans softly sang alongside Patrick. The song, is purported to be about a stint during which Patrick engaged in an alcohol-fueled tiff with flight attendants. However, it’s also clearly a response to Patrick’s father, who allegedly didn’t believe his son could make it in the music business.

Filter is a band who knows how to interact with its audience; they know what’s desired of them and how to appease those longings. During “The Best Things,” a significantly wilder tune than “Take a Picture,” Patrick leapt into the crowd.

“I’m in your hands!” He shouted as he floated above the crowd, hundreds of strangers of all ages holding him in mid-air.

While some fans jumped at the chance to photograph the moment, others simply looked on, grinning at this rare (to Starland) sight.

Filter served to rev up the audience for the highlight of the night, STP. The band opened with the first track of 1999 album No. 4, “Down.” Perhaps most surprisingly during the opening song was the manner in which Bennington’s vocals seemed to fit with STP’s music. Despite the fact that longtime STP fans still yearned for former leader Weiland, there was no denying that Bennington was the right choice for a replacement.

Bennington’s stage presence is nearly incredible. Rather than focusing on the front of the stage, he loped to the right and left sides of the stage to perform to those who were unable to secure a spot in the front of the main floor.

Most attendees were welcoming and reacted well to Bennington, with the exception of one or two inebriated “Linkin Park!” hecklers. The band seemed entirely content with Bennington on vocals. Between songs, the band traded jokes and fans witnessed a hint of camaraderie among the band members and their new frontman.

STP’s set included a collection of classic hits that prodded on the room’s communal singing and dancing. Although some self-described STP “purists” (Weiland fans) complained of the show as being like a “sing-along,” once the band wrapped up a 14-song set, fans clamored for more. They were treated to an encore of “Wicked Garden,” “Piece of Pie” and “Trippin’ on a Paper Heart”- a few of STP’s greatest hits.

As one fan said, “Chester, as Linkin Park, was phenomenal. They [STP] kind of went against their original sound, but they’re doing a great job. He brings a new, modern sound. It’s talent.”

Love STP? Don’t miss them next time they’re coming to a city near you!

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Article by Kristen Gilmartin

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