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Houston Chronicle

Pity poor Gavin Rossdale.

His band, Bush, has sold more than three million copies of its debut album, Sixteen Stone. Rosedale's

shirtless torso adorns the cover of the current issue of Rolling Stones magazine, the equivalent of a

rock-star "king for a day" coronation.

And while Bush was playing little clubs this time last year, it now is selling out major concert

areneas such as The Summit, where the British band's American tour with the Goo Goo Dolls stopped

Sunday night.

Yet, Rossdale gets no respect from music critics. Bush is accused of copping the look and sound of

post-punk grunge without fully comprehending its anguished heart.

Case in point: the Rolling Stone cover story is titled "Nirvanawannabes." It probably doesn't help

Rossdale's credibility that he has been linked in gossip columns to alt-rock publicity harlott

Courtney Love, widow of Nirvana's Curt Cobain.

Posing on a riser on the side of the stage, slicking his curley hair back while the spotlight

accented his chizeled cheekbones, Rossdale recalled the model in that shampoo commercial who

implores, "Please don't hate me because I'm beautiful."

Certainly, the crowd at The Summit didn't appear to hold Rossdale's good looks against him. There

were no seats on the floor of the arena, so that anyone standing within 100 feet of the stage had to

contend with moshers and slammers swirling around them.

Sixteen Stone has had five singles hit number 1 on the modern rock tracks chart.

Bush's set opened with the band's current single, Machinehead, and concluded a little more than an

hour later with the huge breakthrough hit, Everything's Zen. On Comedown, led guitarist Nigel
Pulsford unleashed a variety of grungy sounds at hurricane force, while Rossdale hopped up and down,


One new song, Greedy Fly, kicked in over a semi-funky bassline. Rossdale saved Glycerine for the

encorp, acompanying himself on electric guitar sans the string section that appears on the recording.

Unlike many bands that have broken big on the basis of video exposure, Bush can deliver live. The

rhythm section is tight enough, and guitarist Pulford pushes the music forward with a minimum of

flashy soloing.

Bush is carrying punk-rock's sound, if not its originally subversive attitude, into the concert


But if Rossdale hopes to be taken seriously as a songwriter, he's going to have to get past the

Nirvana fixation so obvious on songs like Little Things. Bush's choice of Steve Albini, who produced

Nirvana's In Utero, to produce the follow-up to Sixteen Stone does not bode

well in this regard.

The Goo Goo Dolls, who played a 40-minute set earlier in the evening, never will be a great band.

Unless they change their name, that is.

But this trio from Buffalo, N.Y., are pretty much everything Bush wishes it could be: a working-

class, red-blooded American rock and roll band that's spent the past 10 years slogging it out on the

post-punk niteclub circuit.

The band was just about ready to pack it in last year when a DJ at radio station KROQ in Los Angeles

began playing Name, an uncharacteristically subdued track from the Dolls' A Boy Named Goo album. Now

here they are enjoying the Top 20, platinum-plus status that eluded the Replacements, the great 80s

pop-punk band whose enfluence is apparent on Name.

But while the Replacements never really got it together in concert until it was too late, the Dolls'

wind up and let 'er rip, with guitarist/vocalist Johnny Rzeznik spraying rapid-fire rhythm licks and

breif solo bursts as if his very soul depended on it.

These guys couldn't care less about striking the correct alternative rock pose. They just want to

rock, period. How refreshing.

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