It’s fall and that means it’s back to indoor concerts in Seattle. When I saw Garbage was coming through on their current tour my nostalgia of brooding to the danceable introspection of Garbage spiked. In preparation for the show I listened to all the songs I remember from the radio and decided to give this year’s Strange Little Birds a shot. Then something happened, my nostalgia faded and gave way to the realization that Garbage is as good as ever. I was reminded of why they are so good; they write songs that you can dance your issues out to.
They kicked things off with the industrial influenced Subhman, grabbing the crowd from the start. Drummer and producer extraordinaire Butch Vig kept the songs anchored from the back of the stage while Duke Erickson and Steve Marker held down the sides. And there in the center, Shirley Manson, a punk rock spitfire wrapped in a pop veneer. She moved around the stage as if she knew it like the back of her hand, playing to the crowd without missing a note.
While many of their contemporaries have either quit or become shadows of their former selves, Garbage has continued forward and I would argue has become better with age. I know there’s a large segment of music fans who feel that an artists’ early work is always better, but I think an artist should be evaluated for their entire body of work. And Garbage is a perfect example of this, newer songs such as Empty, Automatic Systematic Habit and Blood For Poppies fit in with classics Special, Only Happy When It Rains and Push It.
This was a reunion of sorts with Seattle since Marco Collins, a prominent figure in the city’s radio scene, was the first DJ to play Garbage on the radio. Which Manson made sure to bring up, gushing about how grateful they were and how he has and will always be family. This wasn’t the only special part of the evening as it Michael aka Porkchop’s birthday and the band had a surprise for him; a woman named Harmony came out on stage and serenaded him with a rendition of Happy Birthday with banjo accompaniment.
The highlight of the set for me had to be when the band eased into Even Though Our Love Is Doomed. As they wove through the melancholy, haunting and beautiful song, hitting the synth heavy crescendo something dawned on me. This song is a perfect example of how far the band has come and as good as it sounds on the album, it’s more powerful live.
At this point Garbage is world renowned and if you like them there’s no need for me to plead with you to go see them or listen to the new album. Rather for those of you who tuned out and consider them just another nostalgia act from the 90s, I implore you to reconsider that classification and give them a sincere listen.