Friday, 13 August 2010

Scott Weiland's gone AWOL

Austin Music Hall, Austin, Texas, 2007

I'd been up for several days on a crystal meth binge. Everything felt surreal yet hyper clear. I was doing security, working in the pit behind the barricade center stage when Velvet Revolver kicked in and Scott Weiland slithered onstage. I had my back to him but I felt his presence and reflexively turned as he approached the screaming crowd. For a brief instance his gaze locked with mine. His eyes were slitted black, and in a flash of transference I could feel his suffering, the depth of his pain and addiction, and what he'd given up in trade for his fame - his soul. He seemed like a prisoner to me. He looked like a concentration camp victim, gaunt and frail, yet vibrating electric. I turned away shaken as he planted his right leg on the monitor above my head glowering over the crowd. He leaned his weight into the speaker as he screamed into the song as the speaker threatened to topple off the front of the stage. I stood below, watching, frozen. My friend – the bass player from the notoriously heavy band Buzzoven - working in front of the right speaker stack immediately came running over to hold the speaker from falling, breaking my trance, grabbing my arm in the process, scolding me to get it together, then looking up at Weiland as though to convey - this guy deserves respect, fucking give it to him.

Stubb’s Bbq, Austin, Texas, one year later

I was doing security backstage at the outdoor music venue Stubb’s. Velvet Revolver had just started playing inside, minus Scott Weiland, as the sun started to fade over the amphitheater. Tour management, house management and security were all frantic on their radios trying find out where he was. I was standing on the sidewalk on 8th St at the entrance to the loading dock and outdoor backstage area where the band gear and road cases are stored. The tour buses were parked nearby. I scanned the area spotting a scraggly looking guy across the street coming toward me from the direction of the downtown and bars. He looked like one of the homeless guys that frequent the creek that runs along Stubb's and under the bridge where the buses park, and I thought that I'd have to steer him away. Just then as he ambled across the street with his head down management and security surrounded him yelling into their radios that they had him. It was Weiland. He was directed past me to the small backstage area as his tiny assistant / stylist carrying boas and things rushed to get him some clothes. Weiland began yelling that he wanted a fucking mirror. The assistant darted off as the band continued to loop the same riff building a chaotic tension as the crowd screamed. The assistant returned planting a dressing room mirror in front of Weiland against the back of the backstage wall. "I need my fucking gel!" he yelled as the sun fell. The assistant raced for it as tour management and house staff stood by talking into their radios saying "He's here!" as Weiland slicked back his hair curling his lip into a sneer revealing a gap in his teeth. "I need my fucking tooth!" he yelled and the assistant rushed around maniacally as Weiland glared into the mirror at himself and the black space where one of his front teeth was missing. The riffs of the band rose and fell and the assistant procured a tooth that Weiland shoved in his mouth then stepped through the backstage door and walked onstage into the lights picking up the lines to the song as I heard the microphone drop with a thud as the band tore off and the crowd roared. The bus driver walked over to me after the pandemonium had subsided and said, "This kind of stuff happens almost every night. Sometimes he doesn't even show."

I heard someone say that Weiland had walked from the hotel to the venue and stopped along the way for a drink at a bar where he'd pissed someone off and they'd knocked his front tooth (that was a cap) out. I don't know. But it was incredible spectacle and very Rock n' Roll.

A few hours later as the lights onstage cut and the fans still screamed I got a call on my radio saying that Weiland was leaving the stage and to meet him at the backstage door. His energy hit me like a shove to the chest as he walked through the door with towels draping his head. His energy was insane. He vibrated rock star like no other performer I'd ever been around as I walked him to his bus under the sliver of a moon... Whatever IT is, he had it.

After he climbed on the bus I held the crowd of people trying to get to him. A desperate woman and her husband kept trying to push past me telling me that they were Weiland's ex-wife's parents. I held them there as the rest of the band exited, the woman grabbing Duff's arm as he passed. He told me they were alright and to let them go. Exasperated they raced to Weiland's bus where his assistant let them in. They stayed for half and hour to an hour. When they got off they looked defeated.

A month later I heard that Weiland went back into rehab.

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