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K-Rock Revenge of the Dysfunctional Family Picnic
Concert Review by Otto Luck

Scott Weiland
Scott Weiland
 
May 30, 1998 – Green Day has just set the stage on fire (literally) and cops are swarming the joint. I'm standing backstage talking to Scott Weiland about the Stone Temple Pilots reunion slated for "the first of the year" when Howard Stern walks up and says, "Don't mean to interrupt you guys, just wanted to say hello to Scott." Of course, I acquiesce – after all, he is the King of All Media – and then I resume my chat with Weiland.

This is the kind of night it was (i.e., it was a gas) at the K-Rock Revenge of the Dysfunctional Family Picnic. The second annual summer concert event took place at the Jones Beach Theatre Saturday night. Hosted by New York's premiere rock radio station 92.3 K-Rock, it was a star-studded event under the starry skies of Zach's Bay. In addition to Green Day and Weiland, the bill for the evening included Third Eye Blind, The Offspring, Ben Folds Five, Fuel, Soul Asylum, King Norris and Stuttering John.

Stuttering John kicked off the evening, followed by King Norris, a superb blues-based rock trio featuring Fred Norris (of Howard Stern show fame) on guitar and lead vocals. Norris is a great twanger, backed by a hell of a rhythm section consisting of Robert Boyd on bass and Frank Fallon on drums. After King Norris's 15 minutes of fame, Fuel took the stage, pumping out a powerful 30-minute set of rock & roll, including a kick-ass version of their hit "Shimmer." The set was highlighted by lead singer Brett Scallions who paced the stage like a panther ready to strike. I spoke backstage with bassist Jeff Abercrombie, who told me the band will be touring the country for a year, which should give you ample time to catch their act sometime in the future.

 
Soul Asylum
Soul Asylum appeared onstage around 6:30 p.m., opening the set with "I Will Still Be Laughing" from their new CD Candy from a Stranger. Lead singer Dave Pirner looked good, cool and relaxed behind a blonde Fender Telecaster.

From the first few minutes of the set, it became evident that Soul Asylum is still a first-class band, even if they don't sell as many records as Matchbox 20. They have great energy, great harmonies and a raw reckless spirit reminiscent of The Replacements or early Nirvana. Unfortunately, their set did bear some similarities to the band's career, petering out a tad towards the end of their show.

Backstage, the congregation of humans was an equal distribution of stars, security folks and miscellaneous people (I fell into this category). I was milling about a bit when The Offspring launched into their set. Not to slight Soul Asylum, but it was at this point that the audience started to really come alive. Lead singer Dexter Holland and company kicked up a knock-out set of fast-paced punk. As usual, guitarist Noodles was all infectious energy, bouncing across the stage, single-handedly keeping the pogo dance alive in the hearts and minds of punk music lovers everywhere.

Did some more milling about backstage after The Offspring's set (actually, I was looking for a beer) – passing Howard Stern, on the way, who was busy chatting with Marky Ramone – and stopping to nibble on some crudités (I've still yet to digest the raw broccoli). After what appeared to be the quickest change of sets I've witnessed to date, Ben Folds Five hit the stage, starting with a mellow opener, "Selfless, Cold and Composed," but picking up the pace with later numbers, some of which included "Steven's Last Night in Town," and "Battle of Who Could Care Less." Ben Folds took his customary perch on the piano stool – looking much like a man readying himself to leapfrog the baby grand – while leading the trio through a bodacious set as twilight set in at Jones Beach.

Around 9:00 p.m., Stern appeared onstage, driving the crowd into near epileptic seizures by his mere presence. Howard sent out a few customary greetings, and introduced the official hell-raisers of the night, Green Day. Lead singer Billie Joe Armstrong, mounted in his customary Joe Strummer-esque pose, seemed intent on leading the audience past Stern-mania into uncharted levels of hysteria. Billie Joe seemed to accomplish his task, with the help of a few stage antics, including playing a few snippets of Black Sabbath and Metallica covers and cursing a lot. The band sounded great, but just for the hell of it, I decided to count Billie Joe's use of single obscene words in his monologue. The tally came to: Fuck, 127 times (the winner), Shit, 38 times, Cunt, 93 times (another popular item), Cock, a mere 23, Piss, 47… I think you get the message.

It was at this point that Billie Joe and the boys decided to set the drums on fire, much to the dismay of backstage security and the local paramedics. The scene backstage – which was already something of a circus – now took on a flavor of true pandemonium. Soon the fire extinguishers appeared and inevitably the local police.

I noticed Scott Weiland standing nearby and decided to strike up a conversation. I asked him about the ups and downs of going solo. "Well, the advantage is that I have total creative control," he said, "the disadvantage is that I'm not selling five million records."

Along these lines, I wondered if he was looking forward to going back into the studio with Stone Temple Pilots. "As long as we do something new artistically and don't go backwards," he responded. It was at this point that Stern walked up, eager to give Weiland a warm welcome and me too, if only for the fact that I happened to be standing next to Weiland at the time. When Howard walked away, I asked Weiland why he thought there were so many cops in the joint. "Oh, you know," he explained, "people in positions of power just love to exercise their authority."

I decided to exercise my ability to leave the backstage area so that I could be in a better vantage to point to listen to Weiland's set from the front of the stage. It was a good move on my part – Weiland and his backup band, the Action Girls, stole the show.

Dressed in a white dinner jacket, black shirt and a red necktie that matched his crop of fiery red hair, Weiland lurked across the stage in a demonic dance, belting out a sinister brand of vocals while the band played cuts from their CD, 12 Bar Blues, and one or two STP selections. Some of the highlights of the set included "Lady, Your Roof Brings Me Down," the hauntingly beautiful "Barbarella," and the Stone Temple Pilots classic, "Vasoline."

Weiland and company were joined onstage for their last number by Ivy Supersonic and the Groovy Gals, a wild collection of women and men in nude (but painted) bodies, with feathers, wings and such attached. There was also a flame thrower or two (no, not Billie Joe Armstrong – he was resting backstage).

Third Eye Blind closed the K-Rock event, opening with "Losing a Whole Year" off their debut CD and playing a respectable set of pop music, albeit one that was little tough to get excited about after Weiland's superb performance. Third Eye Blind founding member and bassist, Arion Salazar came up to me earlier in the evening to ask if it was Marky Ramone standing across the way. (It was.) In talking, Salazar said that "things are moving really fast for [them] right now. They actually shuttled us down here [from a Boston gig] in a corporate jet that seats something like 13 people. It's stupid. But, stupid in a good way." Guitarist Kevin Cadogan mentioned something similar: "It's a bit of a circus right now," he said. "But I've always liked the circus life."


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More Howard Stern and Company:
- On Marriage and, Ultimately, Howard Stern
- K-Rock Dysfunctional Family Picnic III
- Howard Stern Is My Shepherd, I Shall Not Fart
- Fred Norris's band: King Norris

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