On October 29, 2012, Superstorm Sandy wreaked havoc throughout the Mid-Atlantic coast. One of the worst hit areas was Sayreville, NJ – where hundreds of homes were destroyed by the surge of the Raritan River. One of the most devastating losses to the Central Jersey music community was the destruction of the local rock club, Starland Ballroom. The venue had been flooded out with six feet of water, destroying the entire interior including their sound, heating/cooling, plumbing and lighting systems. Instead of shutting down for good, the venue and AEG Live, like most of the East Coast, decided to rebuild and show Sandy that they were Stronger than the Storm. Completion of the reconstruction took ten months, with approximately 70,000 hours put into rebuilding – many of which were overnight sessions.
On September 6th, it was finally time for the new and improved venue to make its debut.
The wooden floors and bars were replaced with much more durable and flood-proof polished concrete. The sound system, which in the past would sound distorted and muddy, is now clear as day. The flow of foot traffic in the venue moved much more fluidly, and with a freezing cold air conditioner blowing all night, patrons were able to breathe easily in the packed club. In between bands, a projector screen would roll down with the graphic saying “Tonight is history!”
The legendary venue has been around since the 1980s (then known as Hunka Bunka Ballroom) and has housed concerts to thousands, including iconic acts across all genres – such as David Lee Roth, Justin Timberlake, Slayer, Steve Vai, Jefferson Airplane, and many more. But for its grand re-opening, 90’s alternative rock band and New Jersey natives Stone Temple Pilots took the stage with their friends in Filter for a night of rebirth and celebration.
Filter took the stage with a dynamic presence, opening with their Crystal Method collab, “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do”. Their sound differed slightly from that of STP, with a much more industrial sound. The band has been on tour since February promoting their latest release, The Sun Comes Out Tonight on their new label, Wind Up Records. The crowd seemed to be remotely familiar with their music, such as their popular singles “Take A Picture” and “Hey Man, Nice Shot” which got the whole room singing. Later in the set, singer Richard Patrick announced that he was now sober for ten years, and that he wanted to meet fans by the merch booth to make up for lost time to cocaine and alcoholism.
Earlier this year, Stone Temple Pilots went through a very public split from original singer Scott Weiland and recently announced that Chester Bennington from Linkin Park would be his replacement and they planned on moving forward with new music. The Starland show was only Chester’s second show with STP, which made some fans leery on how good the performance would be. However, when the band took the stage, those fears were pushed to the side as the room erupted as they went into “Down”. “I love you Chester!” was a common exclamation by front row fans reaching over the barricade to grab hands with frontman. Regardless of the drastic member change, the band was as tight as ever. Chester’s renowned & exemplary stage presence complimented that of the DeLeo brother’s perfectly, delivering a high energy rock show. Hits such as “Vasoline”, “Big Empty”, “Interstate Love Song” and “Trippin’ on a Hole in a Paper Heart” brought a sense of nostalgia through the crowd, who were not shy when it came to belting out the lyrics. Nonetheless, their new single, “Out of Time”, which will be on the new EP High Rise featuring Bennington, was received well by fans due to its consistent radio play on modern rock radio.
For a long time fan, singing with Stone Temple Pilots was a dream come true for Bennington, “It’s like Christmas for me up here”, he claimed. Following “Sex Type Thing”, he added “That song changed my f***ing life. For f***ing real,” followed by an embrace from guitarist Dean DeLeo.
While Starland Ballroom is back up and running, many people and towns are still having trouble rebuilding and making ends meet. Starland Ballroom has launched several charity auctions to help those in their community via CharityBuzz. Many of Starland’s upcoming acts will be donating proceeds of ticket sales to Hurricane Sandy relief. For a full list of concerts, please visit www.StarlandBallroom.com.
Stone Temple Pilots feat. Chester Bennington’s five-song EP, High Rise will be available on October 8th. Filter’s new album The Sun Comes Out Tonight is available now.