’90s alt rock lives on – Bush live at Sound Academy

I’ve been saying for years (about 15, now) that I’m stuck in the ’90s. Some have been supportive, others have told me to get with it. I’m sure you can imagine my glee that they’re rip-roaring back. Long-defunct bands are regrouping, the fashion trends are shamelessly popping up in every store, tackier than ever, and our cult classic TV shows and movies are being remade or re-popularized. It is glorious.

Bush is one of those quintessential ’90s alt rock bands whose comeback has been brewing for a few years now; a former unhealthy obsession of mine back just as I thought my habit was kicked. They’ve made a few rounds on the tour circuit supporting the likes of Nickelback and Theory of a Deadman, but this was my first opportunity to check out Bush v. 2.0 as the main event. In my day, they headlined Maple Leaf Gardens with awesome bands like Age of Electric and Veruca Salt in the support slots. Hell, in my day, they were Bush X, and Sixteen Stone and Razorblade Suitcase were two of the most fantastic  records that ever happened to my ears. 20 years later, I still have tracks from both on rotation every. single. day. That’s how good they are, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

Diehard fan status aside, their subsequent records didn’t resonate as deeply with me, side from a selection of impeccable tracks from 1999’s The Science of Things and 2001’s Golden State. By then, I’d retired the Bush X scrapbooks, my girlfriends has stop sanctioning the Gavin obsession, and I’d moved on to WWF and a future in wrestling.

Upon hearing I could see them play a mid-size venue like Toronto’s Sound Academy 18 years after I first saw them at The Gardens as a screeching 10-year old, the fangirl in me twinged, and she twinged hard. With Addicted’s music editor, Nadia and another former fangirl girlfriend in tow, we went to hear for ourselves how the band’s live show aged. We all know Gavin is a magical wizard who hasn’t aged (much like his wife, my beloved Gwen Stefani), but I was elated to see that the band kicks as much ass onstage now as they did then.

The band cut through the 19-song setlist like a hotknife through butter, instruments and vocals on point at every riff and lick. I was more than a little bummed out that only five tracks from Sixteen Stone made it into the set (Everything Zen, Little Things, Machinehead, Glycerine and Comedown), and an even paltrier two from Razorblade Suitcase (Greedy Fly and Swallowed), but with four other records under their belts to represent to a younger crowd than our set, I suppose I should be grateful for what we did get.

Little Things” left me delirious, as one of my all-time favorite tracks from their debut, and in hindsight, it was probably best that they didn’t play “Body,” my all-time favorite, because it would have been clean up in aisle Emy.

Who am I kidding, it was clean up in aisle Emy shortly before the band melted our middle-school-formal-aching-tween-hearts with “Glyicerine,” when Gavin hopped off the stage and made his way through the crowd, pausing in front of me, a mere foot from me, to give me a smile and a once over. I’m quite certain it was in appreciation of the wildly old school 16Stone shirt I was wearing, but according to how an up-close, in person dose of that Rossdale smirk made the butterflies I thought were long-dead stir in my gut… some magic from childhood never dies.

These guys are no Nirvana rip-off back then, and they hold their damn own now. One of the most under-respected bands of the nineties, if you ask me, simply because of the timing and their frontman’s pretty face. Whether you’re a fan of the more recently recorded material or not, Bush is a worthwhile live show to check out.

*photos by Nadia Elkharadly

Toronto, ON, February 18, 2015
1. Sound of Winter
2. Bodies in Motion
3. Everything Zen
4. Greedy Fly
5. Man on the Run
6. The Chemicals Between Us
7. The Afterlife
8. This House is on Fire
9. The Only Way Out
10. Swallowed
11. The Gift
12. Broken in Paradise
13. Letting the Cables Sleep
14. Just Like My Other Sins
15. Little Things
16. Machinehead
17. Once in a Lifetime
18. Glycerine
19. Comedown

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Emy Stantcheva
Emy Stantcheva is a lifelong music junkie-turned-music biz dabbler, from music publicity and artist management to the not-for-profit sector. By day, she champions the indies at Canadian Independent Music Association and MusicOntario, and moonlights as Lifestyle Editor for Addicted and rep for southern rock n’ roller Basia Lyjak. A healthy living fan (yes, vodka is a plant), vegetarian of 20 years and lover of cooking, wine and craft beer, she’s always on the lookout for tasty and cruelty-free wares and fares. She’s also known for her hoarding of cats (she has four) and leggings (300 pairs and counting). With her feisty way with words, Stantcheva brings a fresh and intelligent perspective to Addicted’s Lifestyle section.
Emy Stantcheva