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Alice in Chains and Stone Temple Pilots rock the 2010 WMMR BQ

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Wow. Alice in Chains  and Stone Temple Pilots together in concert.

Some 16-year-old kid's rock n' roll fantasy from 1994, right?

Kind of. Fast forward to 2010, and this 32-year-old was just as excited as he was half his life ago to see both bands live. They just so happened toAlice In Chains 2.0 be headlining 2010's WMMRBQ  at the Susquehanna Bank Center  in Camden Sunday night.

The fact that "Chains" and STP are still around and making relevant music in the rock world (STP is set to release their new self-titled album Tuesday, May 25th) speaks volumes for their longevity and staying power. However, that's not to say there haven't been dramatic changes for these two groups since they became household names during the grunge rock era of the early-mid 1990's.

For Alice in Chains, the death of original vocalist Layne Staley to a drug overdose in 2002 put the future of the band in jeopardy before regrouping with new lead singer William DuVall  for last year's Black Gives Way to Blue, which debuted in the Top 5 of the Billboard 200. 

While not having to face the death of a band member, Stone Temple Pilots' have had their share of drama as well. Lead singer Scott Weiland  has also battled his own demons involving substance abuse  for the duration of the band's career, which included a five year hiatus before reuniting in 2008. The past troubles of the two supergroups however, was irrelevant on Sunday, as they delivered top notch performances at the day-long Sunday festival, which also featured bands Three Days Grace, Fuel, Skillet,Dive, and Automatic Fire.

If you happened to close your eyes during Alice in Chains' set opener "Them Bones," you would have SWORN it was Staley behind the mic. DuVall is THAT good. Handling such classics from the band's catalog like "Dam That River," "Again," and "No Excuses," with relative ease while making his own mark on new songs "Check My Brain" and "Acid Bubble." Undoubtedly, the strongest performance of the evening was the rock anthem "Man in the Box," which featured an always inspiring solo from guitarist Jerry Cantrell . The song is two decades old, but "Box" sounds as fresh as it did when the band was first performing it live while opening up for Van Halen on their For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge Tour in 1991.

Despite the strong presence of DuVall and the extremely tight rhythm section of drummer Sean Kinney and bassist Mike Inez, it's obvious to all that Cantrell is clearly the chief cog in the Alice in Chains engine, and has been for the entire existence of the band. Cantrell's harmonizing background vocals (some would even say lead vocals) are just as perfect a compliment to DuVall's lead vocals as they were Staley's. The band closed the set with riveting performances of the classics "Would?" and "Rooster." If you didn't see them on this night, not to worry. DuVall announced during the show that Alice in Chains (Version 2.0) will return to the tri-state area for the Blackdiamondskye Tour on September 25th with Deftones  and Mastodon. Tickets go on sale on Friday, May 28th.An older and wiser Stone Temple Pilots

Next came Stone Temple Pilots. Although the band's greatest asset (Weiland) also has been at times their greatest liability, brothers Dean and Rob DeLeo, drummer Eric Kretz, and Weiland put aside their differences at the end of the day to deliver a thoughtful and solid product.

Unlike Alice in Chains, STP doesn't make vocal harmonizing a priority on stage (with Rob DeLeo providing sparse but appropriate background vocals). But then again, not every band has a singer as colorful, animated, and as vocally diverse as Weiland. I'm not sure whether he has actually showed up for every gig he's ever been scheduled to perform, but despite Weiland's troubles with the law and with former bandmates past and present, I've personally never seen him phone in a performance, and I've seen him six times (Seven times if you include Velvet Revolver).

The now forty two-year-old Weiland clearly hasn't lost any edge off his voice, blistering through the opening trio of rockers "Vasoline," "Wicked Garden," and "Crackerman." The foursome then launched into some of their new songs, including the lead single from their latest album "Between the Lines." While the new tracks are catchy, and deep tracks such as "Tumble in the Rough" and "Loungefly" are treats to the STP diehards, the highlights were FM staples "Plush," "Interstate Love Song," and set closer "Sex Type Thing" (in which Jerry Cantrell jammed out with the band). One of the high points of the show occurred during the encore of "Dead and Bloated," when Weiland invited a fan to sing the introduction to the song by singing through his trademark megaphone.

At the end of the day, tt's pretty safe to say that not many of the 20,000 plus in attendance went home disappointed. And with the newer songs most likely taking better shape as the tour progresses, Stone Temple Pilots will again be one of the top concert draws of the summer, with Alice in Chains following suit come Fall.

Alice In Chains Setlist

Them Bones

Dam That River

Rain When I Die

Check My Brain

Again

Your Decision

No Excuses

Acid Bubble

We Die Young

Down in a Hole

Angry Chair

Man in the Box

Would?

Rooster

 

Stone Temple Pilots Setlist

Vasoline

Wicked Garden

Crackerman

Between the Lines

Hickory Dichotomy

Big Empty

Sour Girl

Creep

Plush

Interstate Love Song

Bagman

Huckleberry Crumble

Tumble in the Rough

Loungefly

Sex Type Thing (with Jerry Cantrell)

ENCORE:

Dead And Bloated

Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart

 

Very special thanks to Nick McIlwain for his generosity and killer smile.

Contact Joe Vallee at jvallee@philly2philly.com

STP Photo: http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/music/chip-off-the-old-rock-20100520-vhk0.html

Alice in Chains Photo: http://allieunplugged.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/alice_in_chains_william_duvall.jpg