Review: Bush Brings Outstanding Showmanship to the Salt Shed

Last year, The Salt Shed debuted their outdoor stage and safe to say, it was fantastic. They successfully managed to capture a festival-like feel and transport it to the their fairgrounds. This year their sights are set on making the ideal mid size (although it’s pretty darn big) indoor venue. Last weekend they welcomed Silversun Pickups and Bush for Q101’s AHOY show that really highlighted the grandiosity of the indoor portion of The Salt Shed.

Silversun Pickups came to the stage and genuinely wasted no time. They were here to dazzle the crowd and their opening song, “Well Thought Out Twinkles” from their debut album Carnavas, did just that. Paired with an impressive light show, Brian Aubert, Nikki Monninger, Christopher Guanlao, and Joe Lester were on fire throughout their set. Silversun Pickups’ sound imbues so much energy into a crowd and “Well Thought Out Twinkles” really set the vibe for the night quite well.

While Silversun Pickups’ set consisted of only eight songs, they managed to make the most out of every second of it. The band played at least one song from each one of their studio albums. It was an incredible display from the 20+ year old band, satiating long time fans with choice cuts and giving new listeners a fantastic first impression. Of course the band book-ended their set with another Carnavas song, what is unequivocally their most well known one at that: “Lazy Eye.” From the opening note to its explosive crescendo, it felt like the heavens had aligned. Everyone in the Salt Shed gave themselves fully to the track’s blistering guitars and grooves. As Aubert crooned the familiar line “I’ve been waiting for this moment all my life”, I couldn’t help but smile.

When it came time for the headliner, it somehow felt like the already packed and boisterous crowd grew louder. Having never seen Bush live before, I don’t think anything could have prepped me for the showmanship I witnessed that night. Nik Hughes emerged on the darkened stage first, beating his drums and flashing lights beckoned the rest of the band. Chris Traynor and Corey Britz, quickly followed by Gavin Rossdale, whose mere presence infused the venue with an incredible energy. Much like Silversun Pickups, no time was wasted. Instead every moment overflowed with an incredible rock show.

Let me emphasize this: Rossdale’s stage presence is insane. This was HIS stage and he just oozed charisma throughout the set. Opening with “Identity” off their latest release Art of Survival, Rossdale was a powerhouse of a performer, dashing all over the stage as he churned out song after song. Even when he was playing guitar, nothing could encumber Rossdale’s vibrancy. I already knew he was an all-time great, but getting the chance to experience it live is unreal. I almost don’t believe how good his perfomance was.

Bush‘s setlist certainly leaned toward their post hiatus albums, but let’s not pretend that their debut Sixteen Stone didn’t have a strong presence during their 16-song set. “Machinehead” followed and immediately transported the crowd to where they first heard Rossdale’s growl in its opening chant of “Breathe in / Breathe out”. That ebb and flow of old favorites and new classics continued the rest of the night and made for a downright riveting experience.

During “Flowers on a Grave”, Rossdale chose to make the entire venue his stage as he hopped into the crowd. Briskly walking though the packed venue (and eventually sprinting to get to the Grandstand seats), Rossdale effortlessly performed the track with a beautiful intensity as audience members surrounded him. He seemed most at home here with all eyes locked on him as he traversed so much of the venue during the track.

The encore kept the same energy that the rest of the set had promised. “Glycrince” delivered the haunting vocals from both Rossdale and the crowd as he led them on singalong that everyone was more than willing to go on. But with that song behind them it was time for that fateful last song. “Comedown” was meant with an incredible reception form the crowd. Rossdale and the rest of Bush deliver a fantastic closing performance, underline what didn’t need to be underlined but I’m sure glad it was: Bush is fucking great.

All photos by Julian Ramirez

Julian Ramirez
Julian Ramirez
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