Phony Boner Colons

When it comes to classic rock, I’m no conspiracy theorist. Like Cory Glover sang, Elvis is dead. So’s the Lizard King. George Harrison didn’t rip-off the Chiffons’ “He’s So Fine” with All Things Must Pass sacrament “My Sweet Lord.”

Scott Weiland, on the other hand, seemingly lived up to the ‘aka’ Gibby Haynes once bestowed upon his former tourmate’s band, Stone Temple Pilots: “Phony Boner Colons.” Last night at Stubb’s, a full house turned out for STP/Guns N’ Roses mash-up Velvet Revolver, as did the frontman himself, a notable no-show recently at Sundance. What didn’t make the trip to Austin, unfortunately, was Weiland’s voice.

Not that anyone crowded up in front of the stage noticed anything apparently. Beer, boneheads, and a fine ol’ time flowed freely, no one bothered by the fact that Weiland’s vocals appeared and sounded technologically enhanced. That would explain the sixth man onstage, a few feet from bassist Duff McKagan and trying to look invisible while tapping on his laptop. After warbling the opening lines to GNR’s “Patience” almost an hour into the performance, Weiland's vocals magically doubled in the song’s crescendo, and not because of McKagan and drummer Matt Sorum, the other two band members mic’d for harmonies. At song's end, the singer stepped over to laptop man, leaned into his ear, and waved his arm up and down as if to say, “The highs and lows need evening out.” Pay no attention to the man not behind the curtain, right?

During rockers like Libertad and Stubb's opener “Let It Roll,” Slash and second guitarist Dave Kushner supplied all the “Sucker Train Blues” licks necessary to satisfy Les Paul loyalists. Sophomore album second bagger, “She’s Mine,” smacked down just as flinty, after which Weiland addressed what some up front were already wondering about: a mouthful of broken teeth. (Apologies to Austin’s Jason McMaster and his TNT crew of the same name.)

“I kind of got kidnapped and beaten by three guys” on the European tour, announced Weiland in a voice that matched his general appearance – trashed. Frontmen rarely smoke as many cigarettes as he did during and between songs. “One tooth’s cracked and the other one, um, fell out. Just pretend I’m a pirate.”

He sure croaked like one. Or the parrot that sits on any respectable privateer’s shoulder. At the start of three or four numbers, Weiland began singing into his microphone well before any sound actually emitted from it. When his vocals kicked in where they should have, gone was his whispy rasp, replaced instead by vocals as full-bodied and foreboding as any STP track, particularly that band’s “Sex Type Thing” and crowd favorite “Interstate Love Song,” both of which made it into the set list early. Again, Slash did his part, carving up “Get Out the Door,” “She Builds Quick Machines,” and debut LP Contraband’s “Superhuman” with Hannibal Lector precision. His lava flow in Velvet Revolver doesn’t match the sheer lyricism of his GNR brand, but these rough and ready rockers don’t demand it either.

Rather, it was during slower numbers “American Man” and “Fall to Pieces,” where soft intros can’t hide a wrecked voice, that Weiland betrayed his shredded larynx. Once the whole band kicked in, suddenly he sounded like two or three Weilands in one, double-tracked and ready for battle. And seeing as Velvet Revolver isn’t exactly Rush, does Weiland really need two ear pieces to belt out bar band brawlers?

At the hour mark, for me personally, Weiland’s 30 minutes of fame finally came to an ugly and inevitable end despite the fact I’d given him double that in this one evening, not to mention time put in on the first two STP tours. Rocklahoma, save a seat for Scott Weiland.

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