Story and photos by Karen BondowskiThree years ago, shortly after Gavin Rossdale married Gwen Stefani, Rossdale and the rest of the band pulled the plug on '90s alt-king band Bush (with monster hits such as "Glycerine" and "Everything Zen") claiming the demise was a combination of "apathy and animosity." Going back to the drawing board he hired three hands (Helmet alum guitarist Chris Traynor, bassist Cache Tolman and drummer Charlie Walker) and dubbed the band Institute. Their first album Distort Yourself debuted rather modestly at No. 81 on Billboard.
Orginally scheduled to play the much larger venue The Rave - the band was relegated to the much smaller Rave Bar stage due to low ticket sales. The hundred or so people in attendance were in for a special treat.
Opening the set with the anthemic "Seventh Wave," Rossdale and company let it be known that this wasn't going to be anything like a Bush show. "The Heat of Your Love" had guitarist Traynor's down tunings aggresively massage Rossdale's distinctive voice."Bullet Proof Skin" found Gavin pointing to a female fan in the audience and lyrically declared "Cool to disappear, but I missed you most days."
Looking fit at 37 years old and wearing a long sleeve white t-shirt and jeans - Rossdale was less animated then in the days he would let himself go in the throes of a Bush performance, but make no mistake his passionate lyrical inflections and animated facial expressions only added to the harder edged music. "Come on Over" again featured Rossdale's distinctive deep and rasy voice. While "Mountains" had every cylinder in the band churning at full precision. "Boom Box," "Wasteland" and "Ambulances" kept the train charging at full speed midway throught the set.
Institute did delight many fans with a few Bush songs - "Machinehead," "People That We Love" and "Everything Zen." The versions were as sharp as a razor blade with some nasty nicks in the blade. It was all urgent rough and tumble.
Closing the set with the three-headed monster ambush of "When Animals Attack," "Save the Robots" and "Information Age" the boys from Institute let it be known that while the long shadow of Bush might darken their commercial viability it certainly can't hinder their gritty creativity.
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