Hell Yes! Gwen Stefani Isn't a Sellout!

Marcella D. Volpintesta
Watch a slideshow of No Doubt at Auburn's White River Amphitheater on Sunday, July 19.
No Doubt killed it at the White River Amphitheater last night, the local stop on their summer reunion tour. The So Cal hailing ska-pop band had been on hiatus until last year, due to Stefani's meteoric rise to pop superstar/ fashion icon/ celebrity mom.

I've always preferred No Doubt's Stefani to solo Stefani. So I went into the show a little wary that it would star an out-of-sync band with a jaded frontwoman and three desperate dudes just thrilled to have a gig again. Turns out, my wariness was totally fucking off base.

The band that played on Sunday night was the same band that fans loved in the Tragic Kingdom era (with some Return of Saturn and Rock Steady thrown into the mix.)

They opened their 90-minute set with the horn-fueled jam "Spiderwebs." Stefani traded in her couture threads for her past staples: wacky hair, baggy pants, and a sports bra. She and the boys -- drummer Adrian Young, guitarist Tom Dumont, and bassist/ex-lover Tony Kanal -- were totally in sync and looked like they were having an awesome time onstage.

Marcella D. Volpintesta
No Doubt bassist Tony Kanal White River Amphitheater on Sunday, July 19.

They played almost all their singles from the past decade, including "Don't Speak," "Excuse Me Mr.," and even my all-time favorite but commercially unsuccessful single "Bathwater." A hilarious video aired behind the band during "Ex-Girlfriend," during which Stefani and Kanal's faces were repeatedly crossed out--a reference to their failed relationship. Later, during the mid-tempo ballad "Running," the same screen was used to play a montage of the band back in the '80s and '90s that reflected on how far they've come since.

Stefani playfully interacted with fans, using their digital cameras to take pictures of herself and at one point, calling a fan onstage and autographing her arm so she could turn it into a tattoo. Later, during "Just a Girl," Stefani made only the guys sing and giggled as they chanted after her, "I'm just a girl..."

Shortly before the encore during which the band performed "Rock Steady" and "Sunday Morning," Stefani looked out at the thousands of faces in the crowd. "Can you imagine being me?" she asked incredulously. "Do you know the life that you've given me? Thank you."

I'd never seen No Doubt live until last night. But they were one of the bands that I grew up listening to. I bought Tragic Kingdom when I was in elementary school and I tried to emulate Stefani's makeup in middle school. I used to sit by the radio with my fingers crossed that the DJ would play "Spiderwebs" or "Don't Speak." Later, while I was in college, No Doubt sort of fell off the map and Stefani became a star in her own right. I sort of lost interest at that point.

But last night was full of '90s nostalgia. It threw me back to when I was a kid for whom buying a CD was a huge financial commitment--and No Doubt was worth that commitment. So for the band to get back together and play this reunion tour was an awesome treat for me and my fellow fans. I mean, I'm comparing apples and oranges here, but do you think Justin Timberlake will ever go on a reunion tour with N'Sync? Fuck no. He's too big of a star.)

The thing is, so is Stefani. But you get the feeling she's a cool chick who actually digs touring with the boys and playing those funky ska-punk jams from back in the day. So thank you for not selling out, Gwen Stefani. I'm seriously in love with you and your washboard abs.

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