Woodstock week is over… or so I thought. When I headed back to Bethel Woods for my final concert of the summer season, I was happily looking forward to a change of pace: '90s music.
With "Our Lady Peace," "Live" and "Bush" on the bill, it was sure to be a hard-rock jam fest from my childhood. And it was. With a little Woodstock flair. (I’ll get back to that in a few.)
I stopped in and picked up my ‘ride or die,’ Deneva, for a night of reliving our high school years. Deneva was super excited for this. She was turning 29 (again) on Sunday, so it was the perfect birthday treat.
I couldn’t treat her to just a concert though, so before we headed into Bethel Woods, we made a detour and hit Big Kev’s BBQ for some food—a birthday that important deserved brisket.
She’d never been to Big Kev's, so I happily drove and pulled into the parking lot. We ordered some platters to go and made our way to my normal parking spot in the paved lot. Settled in, we happily ate and talked about who we wanted to see more. I was excited for Live… and Bush. I could only vaguely recall one song from Our Lady Peace.
She was most looking forward to Bush. Truth be told, I wanted to see how lead singer Gavin Rossdale looked after all these years. Most of the girls in high school had a huge crush on him. She assured me he would still be amazing. I laughed, she laughed… we really were living up the '90s.
Soon, it was time to head down and photograph the first act. Our Lady Peace opened the show with an enthusiastic set. And I finally remembered that one song. It was, of course, the last one they played in their set. "Starseed." Of course, I only remember it from the "Armageddon" soundtrack.
Next up was Live. (Who, to be quite honest, still has a number of tracks on my Spotify playlist for '90s rock.) I was impressed when they came out and announced they would be skipping their regular set list for the evening.
With enthusiasm, Ed Kowalczyk reminisced about Woodstock ’94 and how though they weren’t here for Woodstock week, they were throwing it back and playing the set list they played 15 years ago. I photographed the first three and headed back to my seat to enjoy the rest of the set.
Live played many of the hits they produced in the '90s… "Lightning Crashes," "I Alone"… and then to everyone’s surprise, a universally familiar tune came across the venue: a cover of R.E.M.’s "Losing My Religion." The audience loved it. That song spilled into "Paint it Black" by the Rolling Stones. The set closed with "Lakini’s Juice" and the crowd was bursting over.
As the stage went dark, I looked to Deneva and laughed. She was having an amazing time. I was happy for that. A good birthday present, and I didn’t need to feel guilty for leaving her there while I went off to photograph. She showed me a few photos she snapped of me working and I asked her to send them my way as I left her for the beginning of Bush.
I waited patiently by the stage with my camera in hand, knowing I was about to satisfy my curiosity about Gavin. He’s 53 (going on 54) and surprisingly enough, looked very much as he did when I was a teenager. I shot the first three numbers and headed back to find Deneva rocking out and enjoying the band with people around her.
When it was close to the end of the set, I shrugged my shoulders and said 'sorry.' She knew it was time to head out before the large crowd decided the same thing.
We headed back home with the '90s on our minds. Me, with a smirk on my face realizing that Woodstock week didn’t really end. Not two weeks ago, not that night… not ever.