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Last week, I put together a Weenie Roast guide for Saturday's event, where I talked about incredible buzz bands you shouldn't miss, along with the bands to skip so you could go to the bathroom. Well, after spending the whole day in Irvine, I am ready to refute myself, and maybe even eat a little crow. Read the guide here, and then the actual review after the jump.
Previously: SUBLIME WITH ROME: Yes "There's something to be said about seeing the remnants of a band hardly anybody got to see live, since most of their albums were released and reached platinum status after Nowell's death."
In Actual Fact: Sublime with Rome were a disappointment. Once I got over how uncanny it was that Rome Ramirez sounded exactly like Bradley Nowell, I got pretty bored with their performance. All they did was stand there and run through a list of Sublime hits, with some B-sides thrown in (literally, they just ran through their set--no fireworks, no crazy stage antics. They could've been in a garage for how much they sought to entertain the crowd. Well, they did bring in their manager to strum a few guitar chords--but that was uninteresting too.)
From their opener ("Date Rape") to the last song of the night ("Santeria") it seemed that the audience's need for Sublime to be the Sublime they remembered from albums and college dormrooms was the only thing propelling the band's set to above-cover band-level. It was a weird feeling; I wanted Sublime to do well and be great--but not too great, because it seemed like they were desecrating Nowell's memory. So can Sublime ever get elevated to anything more than glorified karaoke? We'll see when they come out with new material.
Previously: STONE TEMPLE PILOTS: No
"The Stone Temple Pilots owned 1992, when they released Core and won a Grammy award for the ubiquitous "Plush." Unfortunately, we wish the band had stayed in 1992, instead of repeatedly trying to overcome singer Scott Weiland's drug addiction and make a comeback."
In Actual Fact: Nostalgia act or no, STP killed it. It was probably a better performance that they'd ever turned in. Scott Weiland (surprisingly sober!) and the DeLeo brothers played their greatest hits from the Core and Purple records ("The Big Empty," "Plush," "Interstate Love Song," "Dead And Bloated") plus three new ones from their latest set. Each one was on point and executed with the requisite rock star movements: the windmill, teetering over the stage's edge, then jumping into the pit, outstretched arms, grandiose gestures. Maybe Weiland's voice got a little tired toward the end of the performance, but he basically did his job--and did it well.
One thing to be said about this year's Weenie Roast is that the headliners were actually people who encapsulated what it meant to be a rockstar--sex, drugs, rock & roll--before that territory was taken over by reality TV stars. Seeing as the group had been inactive in about a decade, it was also touching to see everyone do a group hug and bow all together.
(Oh, and Courtney Love, in case you didn't know, that's what a proper rock star does. They sing hit songs make grand gestures, perform well for their audience. They don't wear ratty overalls onstage and talk about blow jobs and getting douches. Maybe Hayley from Paramore can teach you what to do next time you share a stage.)
Previously: HOLE: Yes
"Hole are worth watching just because you'll see an actual zombie singing onstage."
In Actual Fact: It seemed like amateur hour with a sloppy, overly made-up Courtney Love in baggy overalls, who claimed that she was a "proper rockstar." Her "fuck-you-fuck-me" attitude, coupled with all her talk about fucking guitar players and giving blow jobs, seemed like an endless perpetuation of the '90s neo-feminist stereotype. And maybe shocking people has always been Love's schtick, but it all seemed much more appropriate for, oh, I don't know, someone who wasn't almost 50 years old. It was a little pathetic, especially as she tried to perform her early '90s hits with the requisite rage. In "Doll Parts," she couldn't quite make it, losing her voice a few times.
Previously: DEVO: Yes
"If you have more room in your nostalgia bank, you'll at least be happy to note that instead of playing state fairs across the nation, goofy synth-punk rockers Devo, best known for their 1980 single "Whip It," are instead performing at a respectable stage at the Weenie Roast."
In Actual Fact: Devo's was my favorite performance of the night. I never knew how dynamic they were onstage, and how seminal their sound was, until it was all up in my face. Their light show--which projected 16-bit illustrations of their songs, reminded me of Kraftwerk's, as did the synth work and the costumes. But their sound was goofily more accessible, full of clever, self-deprecating lyrics and intelligent hooks, like Ween or They Might Be Giants. Even without drummer Josh Freese, Devo was great--and they didn't even need to play "Whip It" to have a good time.
Previously: PARAMORE: No
"Paramore's vocalist Hayley Williams has an amazingly strong voice, but unless you're 13, there's not much else that's appealing about this band."
In Actual Fact: While Paramore wouldn't be playing in my iPod anytime soon, there's no denying they're great performers. Vocalist Hayley Williams doesn't just carry the band with her voice, her onstage charisma is undeniable. And her bandmates are so well-practiced that they have every aspect of their performance down, up to the nuanced, choreographed headbang. It was a riveting show.
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Previously: DEFTONES: Yes
"If there were such a thing as intellectual alt-metal, the Deftones would be playing it."
In Actual Fact: Why were the Deftones on the side stage? They should've been rocking it out on the main stage.
Previously: SPOON: Maybe
"They don't always put on the best live show, but when the audience is inspiring Spoon to give their all, it's a nonstop dance-a-thon."
In Actual Fact: Actually, I was eating at Spoon's set, but I watched it live from a TV screen. It didn't seem like I missed much.
Previously: THE DIRTY HEADS: Yes
"Huntington Beach's the Dirty Heads want to be the new Sublime...as long as they don't go the way of the Kottonmouth Kings, that's just fine by us."
In Actual Fact: They were OK. Really. And it was a good way to rev things up for the main stage--lots of local fans were dancing on their seats throughout the Dirty Heads' set. They even brought out Rome to sing "Lay Me Down" with them.
Previously: CAGE THE ELEPHANT, SILVERSUN PICKUPS: Maybe
"None of these bands may turn out the most exciting performance of the day. But at least they're not Stone Temple Pilots."
In Actual Fact: Cage the Elephant looked really awkward on stage, and it seemed like they were really into the same grunge punk that Nirvana made popular. Or maybe that was just because I was in early '90s mode. Silversun Pickups sounded great. But while they do really interesting things sonically, their songs are fundamentally boring. Still, great performance.