On a beautiful summer night in Bethlehem, PA country music fans learned two things. One: Sugarland guitarist and songwriter Kristian Bush can really sing and two, he’s also an amazing front man.
Beneath a backdrop of the night sky and historic steel stacks that once forged materials used in wartime, Bush took the stage for a performance at the ten-day Musikfest festival and proved that he’s a force to be reckoned with. Although he and his Sugarland partner Jennifer Nettles had played the nearby Allentown Fairgrounds a few years ago, this solo performance seemed far more intimate and special from the get go.
A majority of Bush’s ninety-minute show centered on his infectious debut solo album, Southern Gravity. Released earlier this year, the album has received critical acclaim for it’s feel-good sound and empathetic songs that resonate with life.
From the opening notes of “Waiting On An Angel” and “Make Another Memory”, Bush serenaded the festival crowd with both story and song. Particularly good were “Trailer Hitch” and “Light Me Up”. The latter of which being Bush’s new single as well as his first attempt at writing a love song from a male point of view in many years.
But Bush certainly didn’t forget about his “other” band. His male vocal versions of the Sugarland hits, “Baby Girl” and “Stuck Like Glue” had the audience in a fevered frenzy and singing right along. Bush even included a song he’s never released before in his set. The groovin’ “Bar With A Pool In It”.
Top musicianship was also in abundance in Bethlehem, with guitarist Benji Shanks wowing the Musikfest crowd with his inspired playing and bassist Annie Clements showcasing her own musical prowess as well as her voice. At one point, Clements joined Bush center stage to sing, “Walk Tall”. A song Bush had dedicated to his son.
Bush ended his set with the sexual Sugarland favorite, “All I Want To Do” and “Southern Gravity”, the new album’s title track. With a wink and a smile, Bush thanked the Musikfest crowd and left the stage to a roaring ovation.
As fans filed out of Kristian Bush’s Musikfest show, the Perseid meteor shower was clearly visible in the August sky. Quite fitting when you consider that Bush’s performance in Bethlehem was equally as cosmic.
Kristian Bush Set List (Musikfest – Bethlehem, PA)
Waiting On An Angel
Make Another Memory
Love Or Money
Baby Girl (Sugarland Song)
Bar With A Pool In It (New Song)
Stuck Like Glue (Sugarland Song)
Feeling Fine California
Light Me Up
Giving It Up
All I Want To Do (Sugarland Song)