Buzzfest, featuring Godsmack, Bush, Seether Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion October 23, 2010
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.
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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.
Godsmack confuses us to no end. OK, the riffs are cool Jerry Cantrell rips, but the lyrics and imagery are lost on us. It's a lot of "The fuck you looking at?" going on that doesn't rev us up as much as it annoys us. It's still fun to drive drunk to, but we wish more of their songs were about bloody bar fights and drug deals gone bad rather than psychosexual head games and whatnot. Who is singer Sully Erna so pissed at all the time? Not everyone can be Motorhead. Sad face.
Hey, real quick before we continue, what's with white people at rock shows all doing the same dance? That strange, quasi hip-hop standing still strut with one hand in the air and the other on your belt buckle thing? The metal horns added in is just more confusing too. We smell a blog coming soon.
Anyhow, Godsmack opened with our new favorite song, "Cryin' Like A Bitch!!," which is the most ridiculous song of the year. It's songs like this that make us not like Godsmack, but make it hard to look away, thus sort of making us like them in an ironic way. Is Godsmack our Miley Cyrus? Maybe so.
Let's be honest, a few times our heads nodded so we have no room to talk. We said it was the riffs, alright? Jesus. "Love-Hate-Sex-Pain" is about more weird sex games, which leads us to believe these dudes all get super-laid more than you can imagine. Fighting and fucking, fighting and fucking.
A few pits were breaking out on the lawn during the song, which was odd in itself because it's a head-scratcher to get down to, and not really pit material.
The band does noodle off into tangents at times, which was actually a big surprise, but nothing seemed to go anywhere and gel. They get more mileage out of ripping your balls off than jamming, but when they slow down it pays off.
One of the encore songs, "Serenity," was an infinitely more interesting passage of time, bringing to mind classic-era Alice In Chains. Erna has a decent voice if it wasn't always wanting to waste your face.
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Personal Bias: We're dudes?
The Crowd: Graying grungers, shaved-headed MMA fellas, ridiculously salaciously attired women of all ages, and...wait. This is the same way we described the crowd at the Stone Temple Pilots show. Weird.
Overheard in the Crowd: "I'm not gay, but I would fuck Gavin Rossdale. I mean, I would suck him off, but I am into women, I swear. Seriously." Between Bush and Godsmack this went on for about ten minutes from the guy in front of us. If you spend that long alternately proclaiming your straightness but also talking about homosexual acts you would commit, you are obviously conflicted.
Random Notebook Dump: Is Godsmack for people who don't "get" Tool?