Gavin Rossdale Is Still My High School Crush
"Don't let the days go by." (a line from Glycerine, Bush's 1994 hit song)
I was sixteen in 1994 when KROQ-fm in Los Angeles began playing Bush. The album is called Sixteen Stone.
On my birthday that year I got my driver's license and had a party at home with my girlfriends. My mom surprised me with a cake decorated like a replica of my drivers license.
In the pictures from that day I am sweet, happy, innocent. My outfit was from the Wet Seal. A a pink babydoll tee (they were big in the 90s) under denim overalls with daisies and sunflowers embroidered on the bib. I bought it with my first paycheck from my job in the mall.
These days were the beginning of freedom for me. Years earlier my Gramps had passed down his cherry, white, 1982 t-top Mustang to me. So she was already in our garage. It was time for me to hit the road.
Gavin Rossdale's voice was the soundtrack.
"I'm never alone, I'm alone all the time." Glycerine
Flash forward to last night, nearly 23 years later. I am in an Uber to the Hollywood Palladium. After asking lots of friends to join me, nobody wanted to go. For some reason I knew I had to get there to see Bush. So I went alone.
It was cathartic.
The lights were gorgeous and the sound was huge, immediately pounding in our chests and coming through our feet.
Gavin Rossdale appears out of the black. His presence fills our hearts and the theater for the next 90 minutes. He is tall, like 6'2" maybe. His hair is cut shorter than his 90s grunge-era mop. It is slicked back and his chiseled features are visible all the way up from the VIP balcony where I am standing. Strikingly healthy looking and alive. So alive!
A roaring Everything Zen ignites the 4,000 capacity theater. No playing 'hide and seek' with the hits here.
It was his distinctly raspy, voice that made 16 year-old me fall in love. Last night, it was his physicality that blew my mind. My hand involuntarily flew up and clutched my statement necklace in response to his appearance. I was slack-jaw-thrilled to see this man move. He absolutely oozed sex.
Perhaps I am projecting when I say everyone thought he was singing directly to them. But I certainly did.
Different people I had spoken to before and during the show (remember I went solo and well, I'm me and I love people and their stories) had really strong and unique connections to this band and this music.
A mother with her adult daughter brought with them the ashes of the daughter's childhood best friend. The girls bonded in junior high immediately when one saw the other's backpack with "I love Bush" written in Witeout all over it.
Another couple, in their early 30s, were from my hometown, Riverside. The guy's first kiss was to Bush's song, Swallow. The couple listened to KROQ-fm like I used to. It was a contest on the radio station that got them there last night. A meet and greet with the band and side-stage access was included!
Gavin Rossdale knew these things. Because he gave us everything.
I was so not alone.
Midway through the set I wrestled with how much I may regret leaving my post in the cool air and easy bathrooms and drinks in the balcony. My decision to join the crowd on the floor was sweaty and I knew it would be. After warming myself up by connecting with and dancing with two women at the outer perimeter of the floor I was ready to go all in. Politely winding my way through the gaps, I found myself ever closer to the stage. This was a good decision.
One song later, Machinehead, one of the best rock songs on Sixteen Stone, Gavin Rossdale leaves the stage and enters the crowd. Fans were thrilled and swarmed around him, cell phone cameras raised. It was a friendly pack that morphed and swelled as he wound his way through the floor. I lost him for a minute as I stood on my tip toes.
Suddenly, there he was. For a brief moment, there was nobody between me and Gavin Rossdale's sweaty white shirt, tan, chisled face, slick hair and raspy, roaring voice. I was frozen and wide-eyed. As he passed, a man next to me moved along and ahead and actually kissed Gavin Rossdale's face. I was so impressed. The song never faltered through all of this. When he climbed back on stage 7 minutes later, he was still singing.
It feels good when your taste as a teenager is validated so many years later. Bush sounded better last night that on any album I've heard.
Gwen Stefani, led the band No Doubt and in 1994 she was undoubtedly my and my girlfriend's girl power idol. We wanted to be her. Anthems like Just a Girl and the breakup song, Don't Speak, we could relate to. Gwen was our age, feeling our same feelings and from Anaheim, only, like 25 miles away from us! This was all brand new.
No Doubt was just as much part of my 1982 Mustang's soundtrack as Bush.
Since then Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale married and only recently ended their 20 year relationship in divorce. We all fuck things up. I certainly have. At 38, I get it. I've been there.
What remains is the music. Beautiful music.
"Could have been easier on you, I couldn't change though I wanted to." -Glycerine