Saturday Night: Godsmack, Bush And Seether At Buzzfest
For mucho photos from Saturday's Buzzfestivities, see our slideshow here.
Aftermath didn't get to Buzzfest XXV out at Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion until around 6:30 p.m. Saturday, so we missed the lion's share of the day's entertainment - Papa Roach, Filter and several others. However, we got there in time to see Seether - for the third time in our short lives, if you can fathom that.
Most readers right now are either asking "Who?" or offering condescending condolences. We get that. We could have gone and seen any number of indie bands on Saturday night, but what's the fun in that when you can give yourself a musical history lesson while 20,000 people scream "Cryin' like a bitch" around you?
A history lesson, you ask?
We did get on the ground in time to realize that modern alt-rock is moving into its graying years. The crowd for these sort of shows is aging, on the whole. Blame modern music marketing, geared towards flavors of the week, false indie hype, low attention spans or just plain laziness on the part of programmers.
These bands on rock radio have devoted audiences, even if they don't swing the snug nuts of the skinny-jeans crowd. Bands that play these radio festivals will be around next year. You can't say that about most groups on the Vans Warped Tour. Your average Papa Roach fan will wear out their concert tee until it's an oil rag in the garage, but a We The Kings shirt will be at Buffalo Exchange in six months when that person discovers grindcore or a Korg.
That being said, the case has to be made that rock radio isn't really dying, it's still thriving. Free tickets and giveaways aside, every Buzzfest sells out. Even if it is distasteful to you here is a market and a place for all this music - just like how McDonald's won't go out of business because a burger truck opens up down the street.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, Buzzfest is slowly turning into Arrow Fest, 93.7 FM the Arrow's annual throwdown. Older bands still going at it long after their proposed sell-by date. Case in point were Buzzfest's co-headliners, the sort-of reunited Bush and longstanding hard rock behemoths Godsmack.
"Sort-of reunited Bush," you ask? Well, leaving two members of the band out of the party to continue on with just the lead singer and the drummer, that's not a reunion. It's just lead singer and pinup Gavin Rossdale reclaiming his '90s glory for himself and letting drummer Robin Goodridge tag along. On his solo tours over the past five years, Rossdale was playing Bush songs anyway. It's not like any magic was regained by throwing the Bush shingle out again.
Hearing Bush songs again live again, or at least Rossdale devoting a solid hour to them again, reminded us how much the past 15 years of alt-rock was predicated on their (his?) sound. Mindless lyrics, woeful ballads, pumped-up grunge-y rave-ups - they have all been in the DNA of almost every single of the past decade or so. So yeah, Bush was influential as hell.
"Machinehead," from Sixteen Stone, opened their hour-long set, sounding almost note-perfect from the album. If you can imagine, there was a time when Bush was in MTV's Buzz Bin, a cavalcade of pseudo-edgy artists culled from the afterbirths of grunge and hip-hop. Shit, Blues Traveler and the Dave Matthews Band had some Buzz clips playing.
The nostalgia stopped for us about four songs in, when Rossdale dropped the mike and his guitar and tried to turn into a slinky front man. The new "Afterlife" didn't do us any favors, and all we kept asking was for him to put the guitar back on. The fact that we complained about only getting one song off 1996's Razorblade Suitcase, "Greedy Fly," permanently tattooed an "L" on our forehead. Shut up.
A lot of soloing artists, especially Scott Weiland and Chris Cornell, need their old bands to really fly, but Rossdale seemed fine on his own this past decade. The Bush name brand doesn't have the same mainstream cachet it may have had from 1995 to 2002. Being married to a pop princess means a lot more now.