Disclaimer: I am a pretty big Garbage fan. This was my third time seeing them, and my best friend and I have made a tradition of attending their shows together even though we have to travel hours to do so. It’s always a lot of work to line everything up just right, especially as we get older and settle more boringly into adulthood, but when Garbage hit the stage and tore right into self-titled classic “Supervixen”, we knew it was, always has been, and will most likely continue to be worth all the effort.
Ageless rock goddess Shirley Manson fiercely pounced across the stage making her baby pink hair a tornado of color, it’s impossible to believe that she just turned 50. The band, who is freshly off their 20 Years of Queer tour and having just released new album “Strange Little Birds” sounded tighter than ever. Though that record has been critically acclaimed the eternal crowd pleasers led with a trio of ironclad hits, following “Supervixen” with “I Think I’m Paranoid” and “Stupid Girl”, refusing to let the audience catch their breath.
Slightly disappointing was not seeing stalwart drummer and alt rock legend Butch Vig behind the kit, though Ed Garner filled in amicably, and the trio of charter members flaunted their 21 years of experience working together, sounding absolutely incredible. They don’t shy away from playing hits or mixing in deep cuts for their largely devoted fan base and this show was no exception, leading rousing renditions of “The Trick Is To Keep Breathing” and “My Lover’s Box”. The biggest ovation came for closer “#1 Crush”, the crowd erupting into absolute euphoria for the signature slinky, sexy, thoroughly iconic torch song, and the gracious Manson thanking them profusely for their devotion over the past 21 years.
That’s extremely symbolic of the type of following Garbage inspires. A few devotees in the front row explained that this was their 40th time seeing the band and that most of the front row knew each other from prior concerts. This may be surprising to a lot of people because Garbage was easy to overlook in the 90’s amongst other alterna-pop also-rans. Despite their first two albums having gained mainstream success, their hits are very pop centric and are often underrated and misunderstood, with people not bothering to dig under the surface of the shiny studio sheen to see the feminist pathos underneath. Alt rock snobs who may have scoffed at “When I Grow Up” at the time should do themselves a favor and catch up on what they missed, and catch Garbage live as well. I promise you won’t be disappointed.