The smell of charcoal from the parking lot permeated everything. There was beer splashing, and Flyers jerseys everywhere. But this was no sports tailgate. The only hockey pucks to be found were guys wearing "Boobies R Nice" T-shirts.
Instead, this was WMMR's 40th birthday show, Sunday's sold-out MMR*B*Q at Susquehanna Bank Center, with the station's on-air jock Pierre Robert as its host and goalie.
With a lineup of Scott Weiland's reformed Stone Temple Pilots, Staind, Everclear and the Hooters, to say nothing of new-ish Philadelphia bands Jealousy Curve and Silvertide - well, 14 years ago this would have been a radio-ready alterna-rock-fest coup de grace, more Y100 than WMMR (save for the Hooters). Not exactly cutting-edge stuff, but better than having middle-of-the-road mopes like Jackson Browne.
Now, it was nice just to see Weiland, only two days out of jail for DUI, away from Velvet Revolver and, like all of the headliners, with ample reason to prove his continuing relevance to a reminiscing 'MMR audience as well as younger ears.
Weiland and STP did this with fabulous ease. STP - which is rarely given the respect of its duller grunge-brethren Pearl Jam - was always more glam. On Sunday, the brothers DeLeo, Robert (bass, vocals) and Dean (guitar), made the STP sound spacey and distant, allowing its slower tunes an ambient hollowness and its faster tracks an urgent, passionate aggression.
Looking like Bowie's thin white duke with whitish hair, Weiland shimmied from song to song - the grind and slink of "Vasoline," the shimmering high-pitched kick of "Lady Picture Show." With Weiland's voice luxuriating in echo and the DeLeos' playing at its most airy and open-ended, STP proved current.
Only Everclear came close. Art Alexakis' punkish act sounded crisply disgusted and cheerful, running with glee through what he called the "hard-core East Coast" stuff of "Heroin Girl" and the brusque pop of "Everything to Everyone." Though his voice was at its most gruffly honeyed on his songs, Alexakis saved some of his sandpapery croon for Hall & Oates' "Rich Girl." And Everclear still sounded vital.
Not Staind. Though the crowd ate up the band's gossamer metal sound and singer Aaron Lewis' morose whining, Staind was dated and irksome - like the Pixies on a morphine drip.
The Hooters may have seemed out of place for a second. But Eric Bazilian and Rob Hyman's Celtic-influenced, melodica-blowing pop has been part of WMMR forever. And their chipper, aggressive sound - from old hits like "And We Danced" to their new tunes - was a joy to hear.