Scott Weiland, Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill, 7/22/12

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Scott Weiland Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill in Mesa Sunday, July 22

"Cocaine's a hell of a drug," commented one of my friends watching Scott Weiland strut around on stage in his jerky, velociraptor/ballet dancer-style last night at Toby Keith's I Love this Bar and Grill.

He may be one of the music world's most prolific artists as the frontman for Stone Temple Pilots, but Scott Weiland doesn't have a reputation of being predictable. So, I wasn't really sure what to expect at this show. Was he going to have a backing band? Play acoustic? Will he even show up?

As a venue, Toby Keith's seemed a little bit small for the crowd that showed up. A crowd that somehow seemed to perfectly represent the musician's split personalities and weird energy. Some were supporting his new rock memoir that came our July 10, Not Dead and Not For Sale (which I would think would be a trip to read; full of kick-ass, drug-induced tales. But I heard it just barely touches on his actual "story" behind the hits and the money; that that the stories behind the meaning of songs and lyrics evoke more of a "oh" rather than "oohhhh"). And I'm sure some fans were anxious to hear him talk about Velvet Revolver, since he recently, according to The Guardian, state that he's rejoining the band. The only problem? The other members don't know anything about it.

Whatever the case, Weiland has a ton of loyal fans. Several people at the show were waving his memoir around in support of it. The crowd seemed to enjoy and support his independent stuff, without too many shouts of "STP!" and "Play Revoooolveeeerr!"

He stepped out a little after 9 p.m. in a French beret, sunglasses, white dress shirt, vest, and red tie. Oh yeah, and two vibrant maracas that matched the Mexican flag. He had his backing band behind him, who pretty much stayed expressionless and not very energetic throughout the whole set, short of the guitarist who did the occasional jammed out solo at the edge of the stage to a handsy front row.

Weiland loved the crowd, moving fluidly around on stage, alternating between a gyrating moon walk and his usual throes-of-passion dance moves, making sure that he touched hands with fans that were closest to the stage on either end. After four songs, it got serious: The beret, vest and sunglasses were whipped off to reveal Weiland's pale, sweaty, bewildered face and a coarse mop of graying hair.

"Cocaine's a hell of a drug," someone else said, nearby.

"This next song is a little song from a band called Stone Temple Pilots," Weiland announced to cheers from the crowd as he catapulted into "Killing Me Sweetly." Then he lit a new cigarette and grasped the microphone in between taking long, deep drags.

At this point, two girls were hauled out by security from the middle of the dance floor, right in front of the stage. One was literally lifted off the ground, and she kicked and squirmed all the way out the door, her pageboy hat making her look deceivingly innocent. Then I looked around at the crowd, and noticed that this pageboy-look was everywhere. The place was packed with pretty much any stereotype imaginable.

It was an intriguing hybrid: Part Angus Young/part Fall Out Boy, part Private Parts. Within 10 feet of me, there was a small, gangly, completely tattooed guy with at least 10 facial piercings and a tall, blue-tipped mohawk. On my other side were a handful of chicks in '90s sundresses and club wear. Directly in front of me were three meathead guys in their 40s, dressed like they were 22-year-old Affliction junkies. The crowd was just about as entertaining as Weiland at some points.

Probably because cocaine's a hell of a drug.

Weiland's vocals sounded great, minus the few songs that seemed overpowered by the backing band. He has never had a problem captivating a crowd, and his performance was strong. It was the set list that faltered, and that seemed to be the overall consensus between my friends who were there that were hoping for more of mix of STP and Velvet Revolver songs rather than Weiland's solo ventures.

As the band walked off stage after a blistering "Mocking Bird Girl," the crowd went crazy, waving copies of his memoir around, jumping up and down (or falling down drunk). Then the band came back on stage less than 10 minutes later for an encore. Weiland, smiling and a lot of less sweaty, had changed into a fresh black v-neck t-shirt, and performed what was probably the best part of the performance, belting out "Unglued" and "Vasoline."

Set List: Barbarella Paralysis Sometimes Chicken Soup Tumble in the Rough Killing Me Sweetly Black Again Space Jam Do it For The Kids Can't Stand Me Now Mocking Bird Girl

Encore: Unglued Vasoline

Critic's Notebook:

Last Night: Scott Weiland at Toby Keith's Bar & Grill in Mesa

The Crowd: An eclectic mix of people, many of which seemed to know me, which made me nervous since I didn't remember meeting any of them.

Random Notebook Dump: I thought Weiland performed well, but the set list disappointed and the overall feeling could never beat a STP show.

Overheard in the Crowd: Guy hitting on a six-pack-baring, cowboy boot-clad waitress: "So, we just saw Scott Weiland. It's not gonna get better than that. Wanna go have sex?"

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