What a great weekend for Houstonians! Not only were we given amazing weather, but our Astros got three consecutive wins in the World Series. And to top it all off, 94.5 hosted their yearly rock festival, Buzzfest, at the Cynthia Woods Pavilion on Saturday, and it did not disappoint.
I-45 seemed surprisingly empty, making the drive to the Woodlands pretty smooth up until about half a mile before Woodlands Parkway. Ah yes, the early birds; a mixture of metal heads and rockers who like to get there right as the gates open. I still managed to arrive about 30 minutes prior to the show. Parking was FREE and easy to get to. Even though it was my first time parking there, I simply followed the other punctual fellows to the venue. Clear blue skies in the 70 degree weather made the entire place look straight out of a movie. Families played with their dogs, throwing footballs around, others were just out for a run. After all, it was a really beautiful day. A perfect day.
Set to start at 3:00 p.m., the all-day festival kicked off with a few delays due to technical issues. First up was a rock band from Montgomery, Texas; Junkbunny. Despite all being teenagers, they patiently waited for the organizers to resolve the problems and started as soon as they were given the green light. With just a 20 minute set, they entertained the growing crowd with their Simple Plan/Blink-182-esque sound. Although probably beyond nervous, they showed little signs of fear – something the crowd picked up on since they seemed to appreciate their energy and overall performance. Regardless of the little experience, the three best friends showed what they’re made of and a taste of how far they will be able to go.
After further delays, Meg Myers finally took the stage. Wearing an all black simple attire, she came on stage with a determined look on her face as she walked directly to the mic. Within seconds, she was situated and as soon as her counterparts were ready, she blasted the audience away. She had a very particular way of performing, making the whole set very intriguing. Instead of the usual side to side stage-walk that artists typically do, she stayed right in front of her mic. It is not to say that her performance was static or boring in any way. Instead, she incorporated subtle yet captivating hand gestures and body movements mixed with deliberate pauses during which she would suddenly look off into the distance for a second or two. It was fascinating. The all-black attire added an intensity to her performance that let the audience know she was there to rock. Although fairly inexperienced in comparison to the bigger bands that hit the stage later that night, Meg Myers proved she was up to par with any other performer.
At this point, the organizers were scrambling to catch up to the original schedule. Running about half an hour behind, the stage setups got quicker in attempt to not lose any more time – perhaps even, catch up. The third band to perform was Atlas Genius, a returning Alternative Rock band made up of three brothers, Keith, Michael, and Steven Jeffery. They performed at Buzzfest previously in 2012 and 2015, which definitely showed as Keith calmly walked up on stage with a smile and a beer cup in his hands. Throughout the performance, they would each glance at each other at different times and smile or laugh, giving their performance a warm and lighthearted feel. They had fun, I had fun, everyone had fun. It was all just a sweet family gathering.
The next band on the stage and the last one to enjoy the sunlight was Our Lady Peace, another returning rock band. However, these Veterans hadn’t just performed multiple times in Buzzfest history. OLP was there at the very first Buzzfest in 1995. Yep, that’s right. Decades later, they return with even more experience but with equal if not more energy than before. As the night progressed, each band seemed to feel more comfortable on the stage than the one before. OLP were not an exception. The members carried themselves as if they were the only members on the stage; beautifully. They were all in sync. With little to no communication between them, they began to play. Like a four man symphony, they shone together as the sun was setting in front of them. The venue had gotten a lot more packed now since the people anticipating the later bands had begun to settle down. The 30 minute set established the right mood for the rest of the night.
Finally, the event was back on track. Everything was back on schedule, just in time for the night’s highlights. The first of the three Greats, +Live+, was up next. Although they are one of those legendary bands that released a classic album in 1994, it was their first time performing at Buzzfest. There was a shift in the air. With the sun gone, it was time to get louder and more intense. Ed Kowalczyk performed on the stage as if he owned the entire place. He did the standard side to side stage-walk in style, little dances left and right, hands up in the air, and a big smile the entire time. From that moment on, the younger audiences memebers, myself included, got a taste of what 1994 was like. The big +Live+ banner shone bright with their signature plus sign which appeared to change colors throughout the night as the darkness made it possible to fill the stage with different light effects. Despite not being the main event of the night, +Live+ appeared to have the whole venue packed. People of all ages were singing along to all of their songs. Even the photographers and security guards appeared to be mouthing the words to the songs. Whoops, guilty as charged.
The intensity of +Live+ and the energy in the crowd made it seem like it was the end of the night; half of the crowd got up and walked away. In reality, people were refueling with drinks, snacks, and other goodies. “ASTROS ARE WINNING” some people yelled as they shoved some cheesy nachos and beer down their throat in preparation for Bush. Soon after, flashing lights introduced the members one by one; drums, guitar, bass, and finally, Gavin Rossdale with his tattooed arms, wavy hair, and groovy shirt. Man, that guy is cool. The crowd was back in their seats, ready to listen to the legendary songs. What year are the songs from? That’s right! 1994! Sigh, what a year. Again, the light effects amplified the performance as an attack of colors transformed the stage into its own little world of wonder. Rossdale did more than just a side to side thing, but instead, danced around all over the stage. At times he was next to bassist, Corey Britz, other times he was dancing near lead guitarist, Chris Traynor, and towards the end, the stage wasn’t enough to hold him. Rossdale jumped into the pit, ran through the aisle next to sections 102 and 103, hopped on the lawn, continued to sing with the entire lawn crowd completely surrounding him, and eventually circled back around before jumping onto the stage. If there is anything you can do as a rock band to make your audience happy, it’s pull something like that.
The entire night had been such a ride. Several big bands had performed as well as a headliner would, and the audience was already so satisfied. There was still one more band left, though. The third and final band of the greats was up next. Everyone was hyped up from Bush and the Astros winning. The stage was set for Godsmack. The metal giants had performed at Buzzfest on multiple occasions, headlining each time. This night was special, though. The weather was right, Houston was celebrating, and two major bands had played prior. It was the perfect recipe for the amazing chaos that is Godsmack. A sea of head bopping, flamboyant facial expressions, foot stomping, and loud music took over the venue. Even the streets outside, although empty, were filled with mayhem.
Just like that, the night came to a close. The moment the music ended, everyone became aware of just how cold it was outside. It was as if the music had been warming the place up throughout the day. Now that it was over, reality set in. Nonetheless, everyone left the venue more than content. Once again, 94.5 had delivered what they promised; a rocking day and night filled with great music. Until the next festival, we at least have this memorable night.