Stone Temple Pilots were this year's mutli-platinum rock act to use South By Southwest as a launching pad for a new project -- in this case "Stone Temple Pilots," the group's first album of new material in nine years.
The quartet started with Thursday afternoon listening party at Betsy's Bar, playing the album -- due out May 25 -- for invited radio and press representatives. Before the playback, frontman Scott Weiland spoke to the gathering, telling attendees that "nine or so years ago, when the band split, we had this feeling that the legacy wasn't finished" and saying that creating new music is "what really has made us a band and kept us a band for such a long time." He called the new, self-produced album "a labor, but a labor of love" and "a really special record to us."
STP gave four of the new songs a more public airing that night with a performance at the Austin Music Hall that kicked off a nine-city tour timed to the launch of the first single "Between the Lines." Backed by an extensive series of large-screen projections, STP ripped through an energetic 80 minutes of its particular brand of hard rock, sounding tight and taut as Weiland -- sporting shirt, tie and shades -- prowled along the front of the stage and atop the monitors, occasionally leaning into guitarist Dean DeLeo and bassist Robert DeLeo.
Besides the thick-grooving "Between the Lines," STP also previewed the rootsier "Hickory Dichotomy," a chugging rocker called "Bagman" and big-beat bounce of "Huckleberry Crumble." Weiland also played with the crowd, introducing a new song that turned out to be the 1993 hit "Plush."
Mostly, though, Thursday's show focused on STP's prodigious rash of radio hits including the opening "Vasoline," "Wicked Garden," "Big Empty," "Creep," "Plush" and "Sex Type Thing," while the group also delved into deeper fare such as "Hollywood Bitch" -- which Weiland noted the group hadn't played "in awhile" -- "Sour Girl," "Dead and Bloated" and "Trippin' on a Hole in a Paper Heart."
The encore came with a surprise; Robbie Krieger of the Doors, in town to promote the new Doors documentary "When You're Strange" -- hit the stage with STP for a spirited rendition of "Roadhouse Blues" and joined the band, and bassist Robert DeLeo's son, in the show-closing bows.
STP continues the tour on Friday in Bossier City, La., and wraps March 31 in Detroit. A full summer tour is expected following "Stone Temple Pilots" release.
Billboard SXSW Video