Bush, Hollywood Undead, and Puddle of Mudd (2011)

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94.1 The Zone’s Bonzai 2011 went off without a hitch on Sunday at the Monroe County Fairgrounds, as seven bands converged on Henrietta, NY to give music lovers an all-day serving of rock in the sun.  I’m often skeptical of a promoter’s ability to orchestrate an outdoor festival with the fluidity necessary to avoid a riot, but the people behind this event kept things running like a well-oiled music machine and deserve kudos for their efforts.

I arrived on the scene just after 3:00 p.m. to hear Kansas City’s Puddle of Mudd dive into their aggressive brand of Nirvana-inspired post-grunge and, having just seen them on Friday night in Lockport, I have to say that they gave it their all once again.  Wes Scantlin led the crowd through engaging sing-a-longs of rock radio staples such as “Control,” “Drift and Die,” “Famous” and “Blurry,” but what grabbed my attention were the various covers they’ve added to the repertoire.

Their takes on the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” and Neil Young’s “Old Man” came off rather well given the fact that the band looked exhausted from the heat, so I was entertained from beginning to end.  The audience loved them and the band clearly loves the rush of performing before an adoring crowd.

Next up was rap-rock outfit Hollywood Undead, who marked their third consecutive year on the bill by serving up a sweaty set of tunes that sounded like a hybrid of Linkin Park and Slipknot with a touch of Screamo.  I wasn’t too familiar with the band prior to the show, but their energy is infectious and they had the crowd in the palm of their hand from the onset.  For further evidence of how popular the band is, I’d say that at least one-third of the crowd following the band’s final song, so obviously those people were cynical about whether or not Bush’s comeback would be a success.

I’m happy to say that Bush’s headlining set was a success, and that ‘90s rock classics such as “Machinehead” and “Everything Zen” still sound as forceful as ever.  Singer/guitarist Gavin Rossdale and the rest of the guys eased back into the spotlight with the reckless rock-and-roll attitude that made them stars to begin with which, to me, was a thrill to behold.

Their set was highlighted by killer versions of “Greedy Fly,” “Swallowed” and “The Chemicals Between Us” that sounded better than when they were initially released.  Closing the set with the one-two combination of “Glycerine” and “Come Down” was perfect, because it made me feel grateful to have grown up during a decade when this type of music was still valued by the industry.  Bush’s 1994 debut “Sixteen Stone” is one of the albums that inspired me to pick up the guitar, so I’ll always have a special place for this band and couldn’t be happier to see them back in the groove.

Judging from the raucous ovation the band received at show’s end, the rest of the crowd felt the same way.

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