The nearly stifling August air was thick and muggy.
So it was fitting that a band who blossomed to international fame at the height of the grunge movement took the stage on a grimy Thursday evening in SouthSide Bethlehem.
Bush's Musikfest performance, surprisingly, did not lean heavily on what could have easily been a 60-minute highlight reel. They opted instead to balance a handful of alternative rock radio staples ("Everything Zen," "Swallowed") with deeper cuts -- including a powerful rendition of the moody Sixteen Stone track "Alien." Their rendition of the Razorblade Suitcase single "Greedy Fly" was also a standout.
Front-man Gavin Rossdale was clearly enjoying himself on stage. He literally threw his body into nearly every song the band played; whether he was shadow boxing during the opening rumble of "Little Things" or flopping on to the stage like the fish at the end of Faith No More's "Epic" music video.
His enthusiasm became even more evident when he announced that, due to an approaching thunderstorm, their set was being cut short. Rossdale seemed sincerely bummed that the quartet was being to told end the night as the house was then cleared. (In 2012, Jane's Addiction go through six songs before officials ended the show due to weather concerns.)
Rossdale tweeted after concert, "yeah putting safety first. it was a shame to not finish the show -but what a great night and festival. -THX."
It should be noted that Bush's performance was not necessarily hindered by the abrupt ending. The roughly 45 minutes or so the band was on stage, they put their all into each note and delivered a solid show.
Halfway through "Little Things," Rossdale decided to leave the stage and venture out into the crowd. The fact that he did not lose focus and miss a lyric or lag behind the beat despite the rush of fans surrounding him (and excitedly screaming in his face) was impressive.
There were a few moments where the group did not smoothly stick their landing, stretching out closing riffs that meandered and plotted along. Dropping "The Disease of the Dancing Cats" two songs in was a head-scratchingly odd choice.
Though Bush was not able to completely finish what they started -- it would have been fun to hear the band tear through Sixteen Stone cuts "Glycerine," "Machinehead" and/or "Comedown" -- attendees were treated to a full set by co-headliners Chevelle.
Chevelle's sludgy, more aggressive alt-metal went over well as the trio bombarded fans with a 15-song blitzkrieg of hits and B-sides. It was a nice setup for Bush, despite the latter's abridged performance.
"Still Running" and the crowd favorite "Face to the Floor" each had an especially guttural snarl as vocalist-guitarist Pete Loeffler rode the main riffs with drummer Sam Loeffler and bassist Dean Bernardini -- chugging along behind him. Naturally, Chevelle's breakthrough singles "The Red" and "Send the Pain Below" drew the loudest applause.
The gloomy weather -- which one could argue was appropriate for the heavy hard rock pumping out from the stage -- did little to hamper the upbeat energy of the night.
CHEVELLE SET LIST
- "An Island"
- "Take Out the Gunman"
- "The Clincher"
- "Vitamin R (Leading Us Along)"
- "Get Some"
- "Joyous (Omen)"
- "Sleep Apnea"
- "Hats Off to the Bull"
- "Still Running"
- "I Get It"
- "Door to Door Cannibals"
- "Face to the Floor"
- "The Red"
- "Send the Pain Below"
BUSH SET LIST
- "Everything Zen"
- "The Disease of the Dancing Cats"
- "The Chemicals Between Us"
- "The Sound of Winter"
- "Greedy Fly"
- "The People That We Love"
- "The Only Way Out"
- "Insect Kin"
- "Little Things"