By Leah Greenblatt
Updated March 19, 2010 at 03:51 PM EDT
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Every year, SXSW drops a rock monster (Metallica, R.E.M., Jane’s Addiction) or two amidst the hordes of baby bands and rising indie stars, and this year, one of those slots belonged to the reunited ’90s alt-radio kings Stone Temple Pilots.

A frenzied crew of badge holders and contest winners filtered into the Austin Music Hall Thursday night to hear Scott Weiland and co., on haitus from 2001 up until 2008’s summer reunion tour (true confession: I wrote a feature about that), dip into their hits catalog, and pull out four new tracks from their upcoming album, due May 25. The first song of the set? Why, let us give you a hint:

Weiland, in a natty grey vest/suit pants/shirt-ad-tie combo, wriggled, howled and hip-swiveled his way through the single from their 1994 album Purple, before segueing into alt standard “Wicked Garden,” and then two new tracks: “Between the Lines,” a thrashy ode to his drug-taking past, and the chugging, more mid-tempo “Hickory Dichotomy.” Then, a three-pronged clutch of hits: “Big Empty,” “Sour Girl” (with a nice little a cappella outro), and “Creep.” The band, in general, sounded tight and locked in, like only bands who’ve played for years together can. It was frustrating, though, that the room’s speakers were turned up to the point of muddling and distorting much of the sound; a notch down would have made it sound less smothered.

Weiland teased the crowd, promising, “This one’s from our new album, I hope you like it,” before launching into one of the songs that started it all, “Plush” (look at this video! look at that chin strap!). At points, he was nearly drowned out by the crowd’s mass chorus shout-along (“and I FEEEEELL EHTTT”) before moving on into “Interstate Love Song” and another new one, the also substance-abuse-themed “Bag Man.”

A grand finale came in the form of a special guest: The Doors Robbie Krieger, who paired with the band (and bassist Robert DeLeo’s young son) on closer “Roadhouse Blues”—not for the first time.

STP will continue on to Bossier City, Lousiana today, before wrapping up March 31 in Detroit. Will you be seeing any of the next eight shows, readers? And if you would, did you loyally defend them back in the days of our Guilty Pleasures showdown? Do tell, below.

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