I was nervous heading to the Bell Centre for Summersault 2019. Nervous because I have seen shows/festivals like this before with artists whose primes have come and gone and they just felt like desperate attempts to still cling to and connect with a distant, no longer relevant past. Wow, depressing much? Well, fret not because this was not the case on Thursday night at the Bell Centre. Bush, Live, and Our Lady Peace, each in their own special way reminded me and the entire building why the ’90s were such a special time and that they were far from relics of the past trying to cash in a quick nostalgia cheque.
I’ll save you an entire splurge on Gavin Rossdale and just say the man still looks great! He hasn’t lost a step, still an incredible and energetic entertainer. The entire band sounded great and though I’m often critical of the live sound at the Bell Centre, it was absolutely on point for this night. Honestly, my criticisms usually just stem from a preference of a smaller club sound to that open-ended, overly echoey arena sound, but for whatever reason, everything was just locked in and poignant. Shout out to the crew handling the buttons and levels. Bush placed a lot of focus on Sixteen Stone throughout their set, which is absolutely fine with me, it is what put them on the map. Opening with “Machinehead” was a sure-fire way to get the crowd instantly riled up, following it up with “Everything Zen,” “Body,” and “Little Things.” Sixteen Stone is a criminally underrated album and I realize it went platinum but I still think it warrants the same attention that some of the Pearl Jam, Nirvana, and Soundgarden albums got in the ’90s. The latest single sounded fucking fabulous as well, “Bullet Holes,” which can be found on the John Wick soundtrack (singles on movie soundtracks, so very ’90s) is a straight-up banger that holds true to the classic Bush grunge, loud distorted guitars, anthemic sound. Still kicking ass, Bush has not slowed down and this reassures me, ’90s comeback let’s go! They closed it out with the slower songs “Glycerine” and “Comedown” but there was no way I was coming down from the cloud I was floating on.
Up next was Live, a band I always sort of pushed aside for being “dad rock” or Rolling Stone magazine sweethearts. But they blew me out of the water with their professionalism and playing capabilities. Frontman Ed Kowalczyk just seems at home on stage even though he took to running all over the Bell Centre floor for a few tracks. All the world’s a stage, right? Any chance to get a Rush reference in! Similar to Bush, Live focused mainly on their most popular record Throwing Copper, “Selling The Drama,” “I Alone,” and “Lightning Crashes,” which had every single person in the building singing along, Kowalczyk could have chosen not to sing it if he had felt so inclined. And so I repeat myself, Live proved to me that the ’90s can still be a relevant and vibrant sound: ’90s comeback! ’90s comeback!
Our Lady Peace (OLP) closed the night; Canada’s contribution to the mid ’90s alt-scene. Like Rossdale and Kowalczyk, Raine Maida simply put his hands out and took over the Bell Centre. Maida somehow manages to combine the assuredness of a frontman who has spent years honing his craft, with the urgency and edginess of someone who’s out there hustling and trying to make a name for themselves. The whole band has it actually, maybe it’s just a condition of being Canadian. Our Lady Peace didn’t focus primarily on one album; they laid into their entire catalogue and it was glorious. “Superman’s Dead, “Innocent,” “One Man Army” early on, was just a reminder of how many hits OLP have. We needed at least another hour for them to even scratch the surface. Maida told an incredibly touching story about Gord Downie and The Tragically Hip, where he had seen them play two songs at a Canadian Music Awards ceremony and how it changed his life. Though Downie is no longer with us, its amazing to see and hear his legacy carried on by other bands! Just so much love in my heart for the Tragically Hip and Our Lady Peace. The encore was highlighted by “Naveed” another criminally under-recognized ’90s gem.
I left the Bell Centre feeling hopeful about where music is going and revitalized in my own musical endeavours and that right there my good readers is what makes events like Summersault so very special.
Written by Lee Ferguson
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Danielle Kenedy