Photo of Gavin Rossdale of Bush by Colin Williams. See more photos below!
Sunday night, the sidewalks of Delmar Blvd were crowded with a variety of rock music devotees anxiously waiting for doors to open at The Pageant. Wrapping up the first part of their tour in St. Louis, long-time alternative rock band Bush headlined a two-band show with special guest Devora.Three generations of alternative rock fans stood by anxious to hear Gavin Rossdale and his band perform hit songs from their wildly successful roster of albums. Prior to Bush’s set, fans were taken on a dark but delightful journey with the one and only opening act of the evening, Devora. The Pageant came prepared for patrons who wanted to avoid the mosh pitting, crowd surfing rascals in the front by stacking tables and chairs near the stage. This was a new—but welcome—change to the venue we have recently become so familiar with.
Devora kicked off the sold-out show, promoting their new EP released late in January, God is Dead. Frontwoman Ariel Levitan could be seen side-stage bouncing on her heels getting pumped up for the show well before taking the stage. The audience cheered and applauded to the quick cadence of the bass drum as she took the mic and started the show with “Not Dead Yet,” her debut single released in 2020. Building a reputation as a “Goth Dolly Parton,” Levitanhas admitted influences ranging from Johnny Cash to Nine Inch Nails. An Arizona native pioneering dark country and goth pop, she took the stage with her signature cowboy hat and hypnotically navigated you through stories of an outlaw girl in a godless southern wasteland.
Devora’s setlist flowed with rhythms echoing modern pop music and southern rock while the stage aired an ominous glow, building soft melodic verses up into intense and impassioned choruses before returning to the gloom. In recent interviews, the singer has confessed to an affinity for the mysterious and macabre. The band seemed to tirelessly fuse these genres into a new melodic being with unapologetic resilience. If you were not in attendance on Sunday, you can be assured Devora is only getting started. Levitan recently toured with Mexico-based rock band The Warning (who are female powerhouses themselves) and I expect we will only continue to see her grow from here.
It’s been nearly thirty years since Gavin Rossdale and the guys from Bush crossed the pond, leaving tidal waves in their wake as they helped to revolutionize the alternative/grunge scene in the early ‘90s. Their first studio album, 1994’s Sixteen Stone, immediately earned them a place amongst what was then a new and exciting genre. The album included five singles—”Glycerine,” “Come Down,” “Little Things,” “Machinehead,” and “Everything Zen”—that have remained radio stapes over the decades. The album went on to be certified six-times platinum. After a brief hiatus in the 2000s, Rossdale resurrected Bush with guitarist Chris Traynor of Orange 9mm (who had toured as a member of Bush prior to the breakup), bassist Corey Britz, and original drummer Robin Goodridge. After Goodridge’s departure in 2019, Nik Hughes stepped behind the kit, and it was this lineup that recorded the band’s ninth album, released in October of 2022, titled The Art of Survival.
There was no shortage of chairs on Sunday but these remained mostly empty as fans were found standing and shouting choruses to both modern and nostalgic tracks. The band grabbed the attention of the crowd with a simple, yet thunderous, drum groove leading into “Identity” from the band’s latest album, followed by Gavin taking the stage with an intensity rarely seen even in much younger and heavier bands. Playing through a generous setlist, the band’s energy only grew stronger, culminating in security’s surprise when Rossdale leaped from the stage and joined the crowd on the balcony to finish “Flowers on a Grave,” the second single released ahead of their 2020 album The Kingdom. Rossdale wore a gratuitous smile the entirety of the show and often gave genuine, heartfelt thanks to the audience for the years of support and affection. The band closed with a three-song encore (“The Kingdom,” “Glycerine,” and “Comedown”), leaving new and old fans alike with an unforgettable experience you can only get from a smaller, more intimate venue. Bush and Devora together put on an amazing show, it’ll take a few weeks to come back down from this cloud. | Colin Williams