– Words by Jordan Buford / Photos by James Villa –
South Side Ballroom (Dallas, TX) – Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Bush. They’re a staple of 90’s alt rock music. Even now, a little more than twenty years since their debut album, Sixteen Stone, was released, their songs from that record stand as being iconic.
Their fan base is a dedicated one, as was evident this night as people trickled into the South Side Ballroom in Dallas, covering a large age range. Some of the fans having followed the band since they first broke onto the charts (once inside, I overheard one woman mention to someone else she was almost fifty) to the twenty-somethings that just know what good music is (some of whom quite possible heard their parents listening to some Bush while they were growing up).
They were all out there; and the place was fairly crowded when Theory of a Deadman took the stage for their opening set. It’s two contrasting styles of rock, Deadman and Bush, though the newer rock feel seemed to be enjoyed by most as they screamed with excitement anytime singer Tyler Connolly asked a question. Of course, that wasn’t who they were primarily there to see, though.
The fanfare was massive, and all it took to get it was the lights dimming. Robin Goodridge was first out on stage, standing on the drum riser before taking a seat behind the kit as he raised his arms into the air, motioning to the fans to make some noise. They were happy to oblige.
Guitarist Chris Traynor, singer and guitarist Gavin Rossdale and bassist Corey Britz soon followed, as they ripped into the first track of an often aggressive 72-minute long set. All six-studio albums the band has to their credit were represented this night, though with a new one having been released just a few months before, they opened with something from it. “Just Like My Other Sins”, the lead track off Man On the Run, got things underway, and while it may not have been some beloved classic, it still embodies everything Bush is, with hefty amounts of rock worked in.
Rossdale quickly changed guitars, as a momentary hush fell over the room. At least until he played the first note of the next song. Everyone seemed to lose their minds upon realizing it was “Everything Zen”; and the singer proved that just because he had to stay close to the microphone didn’t mean he had to stay still, jumping about wildly at the end.
He then got much more mobile on “The People That We Love”, which was one of a couple songs he put his guitar aside for. He raced around the stage, giving attention to those on the far end of stage right for a time. It was readily becoming apparent that the entire band had more energy than most young up-and-comers these days. “What happened to you?!” he belted towards the end of the song, when that becomes the refrain, putting a ton of desperation into his voice.
They then gave fans another taste of new music with “Bodies in Motion”, before finally breaking. “How we doing?” asked the singer, who commented they had been so busy playing songs, that they had forgotten to say hello. They then took everyone back to the 90’s with “The Chemicals Between Us”, one that saw he and Traynor getting some good chemistry going on, as they kinda circled one another, each like a shark circling its prey, before they leaned into one another and shredded, cranking out some sweet licks.
Just like on Razorblade Suitcase, “Greedy Fly” and “Swallowed” were played subsequently (the intro of flies buzzing around before the former one made for a cool segue), both causing a noticeable sing along from the crowd. Not that it was asked for, but people clearly love those older cuts enough that there’s no way they’ll stay silent. “The Gift” was then another new offering, again proving that Bush has kept their formula intact perfectly. Sort of like I said earlier, it’s not like they’ve tried to drastically reinvent themselves. At its core, even their latest songs still sound like classic Bush, with perhaps a few, subtle modern elements tossed in. And as they say, if it’s not broke, why fix it?
Speaking of that, “The Only Way Out” was one of my favorite songs of their show. All sorts of footage was projected on a screen behind them, and during that one, it was some nice scenes of various things (aerial views of a lake, street views of storefronts, etc.) with the lyrics appearing on screen. I’m not usually a fan of any visuals at all during shows, but that added a nice touch, especially on that track.
After “Float”, Rossdale commented on what a long tour this one has been, but a good one, speaking of how unifying things like this are, for them and the audience. He also mentioned the sun we had had this day (something Dallas had been lacking lately, with near constant overcast weather). Apparently, much of the country was like that, with him joking that their travels felt like they were in Eastern Europe, seldom seeing a ray of sun until this day.
“This House is On Fire” began the final stretch of songs, with Goodridge bridging them into “The Sound of Winter” and then “Broken in Paradise”, before they paused. “If you think about it, there’s too much pain in the world,” Rossdale remarked, getting quite real. He said that really, everyone probably has a pretty good life, even if it might not always seem like that, mentioning that it’s hard to open up to people about deeply personal things, but it needs to be done. “I’m British, I should know,” he cracked, regarding it being difficult to share your feelings with someone else.
He said that was what the next one was about, as they brought things down with the final track off The Science of Things, “Letting the Cables Sleep”. Things then picked back up with “Insect Kin”, which saw Traynor starting a clap along at the beginning, though the best moment of the night came during the closer, “Little Things”. Rossdale was again seen sans guitar, and he soon made his way off the stage and into the pit that separated the fans from the stage. He didn’t stop there, though. From where I stood, he was hard to see, though he made his way deep in the audience, as people pulled their phones out and filmed/photographed it. It was pretty awesome, simply because you don’t see many notable musicians like that do things of that nature. It made it feel special, like there still is a genuine love for patrons like those who had come out this night for still making Bush a relevant force all these years later.
That would have been a fine way to leave everyone period, if it weren’t for the fact that their biggest hits had yet to be played.
When they were brought back out for an encore, it consisted entirely of songs off Sixteen Stone, with the exception of a killer rendition of Talking Heads’ “Once in a Lifetime”. That came after “Machinehead”, with “Glycerin” and “Come Down” capping off that delectable encore.
To be honest, I’ve never listened to much of Bush’s music, aside from the radio hits. I realized what all I’ve been missing out on, though. They’ve been around long enough that they’ve built a good catalog, and the set list this night was composed of nothing but strong songs. There was never a moment where you felt anything that even resembled boredom; and the stage show that accompanied it was jaw dropping.
The seasoned rock stars can still outperform most bands that I’ve seen and could compare them to, always keeping a very spirited demeanor about the performance, one that seeped out into the crowd to make them feel like an even bigger part of it.
Bush will definitely be on my list of must-see bands from now on, anytime they come back to the Dallas area.
Just Like My Other Sins
The People That We Love
Bodies in Motion
The Chemicals Between Us
The Only Way Out
This House Is on Fire
The Sound of Winter
Broken in Paradise
Letting the Cables Sleep
Once in a Lifetime
(Talking Heads cover)