Authored by: Amy Breaux
Rock royalty Garbage lit up the stage of the Fillmore in New Orleans, LA Friday May 10.
Garbage is impossible to fit in a genre. When they arrived on the scene back in 1993, they provided a sound that was so unique, no one knew how to categorize it. Muscicians/producers Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker wanted a strong female lead. They found it in Scottish singer Shirley Manson, who became the female singer many outcast girls emulated (and still do). Celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their album Version 2.0, the band made a stop at the Fillmore in New Orleans.
Opening the evening was Austin, TX punk rockers Pleasure Venom. This was their first show with Garbage and unfortunately, they had some equipment issues after the first song that caused a delay in their performance, but they were true pros in the face of the problems. They kept the audience engaged while fixing the issues. The audience supportively cheered once the problem was resolved and the rest of the performance went off without any more complications. Lead singer Audrey Campbell’s vocals were like a gravel truck rumbling down a dirt road. She belted out each song like she was there to slay every note. They fit perfectly with the garage punk aesthetic that the band possessed. They were fun to watch and even more fun to hear.
After a very brief set change, the lights dimmed and the audience began to cheer as drummer Vig, guitarists Erikson and Marker, and bassist Eric Avery took the stage. But it was Shirley Manson who held their attention. Dressed as a Blade Runner-esque warrior, she opened the show with “Control” and she definitely embodied the song’s title. Between lyrics she circled the stage like a panther waiting to attack.
Although the light show complimented the music beautifully, the stage was minimal, which is how it should be for a band as tight and captivating as Garbage. While hits like “#1 Crush” and “Stupid Girl” were awesome to hear, it was the lesser known songs that really managed to steal the spotlight and prove why Garbage has always been an innovative band. The songs and their themes are as relevant today as they were twenty years ago. As Manson said, “B sides make it where we come from”. Combining the song “Wicked Ways”, with lyrics like “I’d keep my promises if only I could/You count your blessings that I can’t rely on you”, with Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” only solidified Garbage as a band that has always been ahead of its time.
Showing a vulnerability not usually seen in frontmen, Manson’s moment addressing the crowd only managed to make her more endearing. When she wasn’t asking the audience for a hair tie, which someone was happy to donate, she was showing support for the openers, claiming they were “hardcore proper punk” while condemning the usual radio fodder as “pushing piss” that doesn’t “generate ideas or progression”. She also showed immense gratitude to Garbage’s fans exclaiming that they have the best fans in the world before launching into the song “Why Do You Love Me”.
Ending the set with the more recent song “Even Though Our Love is Doomed”, the band came back for an encore that started with “Bad Boyfriend” from 2005’s Bleed Like Me. They concluded the evening on a high note with their 20 year old hit from Version 2.0 “When I Grow Up”. Let’s hope Manson and the boys never grow up and continue on their cruise to freak us out.