Photos by Katrina Wong Shue
Monster Energy drinks may be doing more harm to the youth of today than we’d like to admit, but I will give them credit for one thing – They sure know how to put together a rock-heavy tour. This year’s go-around is labelled “Revolution 3” and revolves (sorry for the pun, only one I promise) around Stone Temple Pilots, Bush and The Cult. Three bands who you’d think have seen better days, but have more than enough oomph each to crank into three hour-long sets, as well as gas left in the tank to stay vertical for the length of time they’re on stage.
It took less than one song from new STP singer Jeff Gutt for the obvious fan next to me to exclaim, “He’s great!” The former X Factor contestant certainly has the look, pipes and swagger to replace Scott Weiland (although he also reminded me a little of Layne Staley), hopefully without the all the baggage that led to the latter two’s demises. Can I mention again how I technically had the last-ever interview with Weiland for LiL? Those are my questions Dawn Hamilton is asking him and, well, two and a half years later I don’t think I’m ready yet to properly hear the music he created with the DeLeos and drummer Eric Kretz. I guess people like my hollerer friend should just be glad Dean DeLeo was allowed over the border due to his estranged wife accusing him of being abusive and all. He sure can still shred on “Trippin’” though. It’s difficult to fairly pass judgement on Gutt’s brief set with Stone Temple Pilots, as it was mainly packed with hits from Core and Purple that countless wannabees have warbled worse at karaoke rock nights. We only got a pair of cuts from their 2nd S/T effort, it’s first with Gutt since the Chester Bennington experiment. I would have liked to hear more, as I honestly think there’s a future here 25+ years into the group’s existence.
Bush seemed to have changed things up slightly from what I’ve seen on Setlist.fm, moving “The Chemicals Between Us” up to second on their song list and generally not relying on the material when they had to be called Bush-X up in Canada. Gavin Rossdale was very energetic, especially during “The Sound of Winter” where he slid on his knees to do a solo guitarists half his age probably wouldn’t even attempt. Oh don’t worry, they played plenty from Sixteen Stone. I didn’t realize “Machinehead” became the new anthem for king can-drinking bros to sing along with while trying to take selfies at the same time. A bunch of white dudes didn’t even let a girl on crutches get to her seat, they were THAT excited. Who knew Bush were this big? Rossdale tried to reciprocate the love he was being given by doing things like sprinting all the way up to the lawns to sing part of “Little Things”. (Only to have his microphone stolen!) And how come The Sea of Memories isn’t on Spotify here, but the terrible version of “Glycerine” with ex-wife Gwen Stefani still is?
The Cult’s headlining slot made sense for Toronto considering Ian Astbury’s connection to the area – He lived in Hamilton for a good length of time, and The Cult have easily played T.O. twice as many times as STP and Bush put together. They turned the lights out at El Mocambo when the club temporary closed in 2001, and I even saw them at SkyDome once! They did more of what you may consider deep cuts, although “Rise”, “Elemental Light” and “The Witch” were really just singles not from their holy rock trinity of Love, Electric and Sonic Temple. Classics like “She Sells Sanctuary” and “Love Removal Machine” will forever remain awesome, and Billy Duffy is a Top-5 all-time axeman in my books; unfortunately, Astbury’s voice isn’t the same without the wailing, and what’s being shouted towards him isn’t the same as he’s singing (only ever third lyric). He’s as charismatic a frontman as they come, whether he’s shaking a tambourine as if possessed by an evil spirit, kicking beach balls back to the awaiting crowd or looking to the heavens to ask, “Is that you Gordie?” For all their history, an hour is about right for them.