Bush at First Avenue, 5/22/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo By Jennifer Gullickson

With Bloodnstuff
First Avenue, Minneapolis
May 22, 2013

In the mid-90's, most music fans who passionately experienced the rapid rise of the grunge movement firsthand viewed bands like Bush, Stone Temple Pilots and their ilk with skepticism, painting them as illegitimate knockoffs who were just capitalizing on a scene that they would forever be outside of. But there was ultimately no denying their commercial success and legions of fans throughout the world. And now that enough time and distance has passed, and those unsettled adolescent territorial fires have dimmed just a bit, the songs are ultimately what endure, not where you came from or when you broke big.

And Bush clearly have plenty of undeniable anthems that still resonate just as potently with audiences today as much as they did when they dominated U.S. radio and the pop charts nearly 20 years ago. The one-time London quartet, led by the exuberant Gavin Rossdale, delivered all of those hits and more during their entertaining 90-minute set which found the band finally making their First Avenue debut while connecting intimately with their dedicated fans who have stuck by them all of these years.

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Opening the night was Bloodnstuff, the Minneapolis metal duo who just came off of a high-profile tour supporting Alice in Chains. The potent pair were certainly road tested and well aware of what kind of set would go over well with fans of '90s rock with their combustible 35-minute set. After two blistering introductory tracks, which included an incendiary take on "Give Me a Call," and the song "Bloodnstuff" from the album Bloodnstuff, guitarist/vocalist Ed Holmberg playfully teased the crowd a bit, "We're fucking Bloodnstuff. We're from here -- but you should know that already." Sadly, most of the fans didn't know that already, but after this fantastic performance I'm sure they do now.

The well-paced set drew mainly from their self-titled debut full length, with "Diet Cola," "One Day Roses," and an absolutely scorching take on "Oh You Pretty Failures" all getting the crowd nodding their heads while priming them for the headliners. Holmberg again poked a bit of fun at the band and the crowd when he joked halfway through the set, "Once again, for any late-comers, we're Bloodnstuff and you're here for Bush, and we can't change your mind." Drummer Dylan Gouert was on point throughout the set, as his mountainous rhythms reverberated through the entire club, giving Holmberg the space to drop one sick riff after another on us. The set closed with a raucous version of "Fire at the Sea" which proved to be the best song of the performance, leaving most fans a bit stunned at what they just witnessed, and plenty of new converts to the evil church of Bloodnstuff.

After a lengthy 40-minute changeover, the room finally darkened and Bush took to the stage, with Rossdale waving excitedly to the packed house, wearing a camouflage jacket that he wouldn't leave on for very long. And the band certainly hit the ground running, kicking off the set with "Machinehead" that got the crowd into it straight from the start. Rossdale even worked in an homage to Allen Ginsberg's famous poem "Howl," as he shouted the first line "I saw the best minds of my generation" as the track fully kicked in.

The difference between Bush's hit singles and their more marginal other material is quite substantial, a point which was proven at the start when they followed "Machinehead" with the rather cringe-worthy macho buzz of "Testosterone." It was a trend that would continue throughout the show, but thankfully the band has plenty of hits which kept the momentum high for much of the performance. And, much to Gavin's credit, he plays his heart out on each and every song, working up a sweat whether the track he's playing was a number one hit ("Everything Zen"), or if it's a new song that the group hasn't released as of yet ("Loneliness is s Killer").

In fact, Rossdale earned quite a few indie cred points when he tagged Big Black's "Kerosene" on the end of a fiery take on "Everything Zen," which also featured Gavin, who was now sporting a loose fitting, cut-away tank top, grinding his guitar on the amp so hard they both fell over. Rossdale spoke with a genuine affection for Minneapolis throughout the performance, "I remember when we first played Minneapolis, they told us we were playing First Avenue, but then we got here and it turned out we were playing the small club downstairs (The Entry). And I came in here to the big room and thought maybe if we get things going someday, we can play in here. And it took us a while to get here -- after playing Target Center a few times, we finally convinced Conrad to let us play here."

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