Garbage – 930 Club

The last time I shot and wrote a review of Garbage was in 2013, the last time they were in DC promoting their latest release. For that write-up I started off with If you are a Garbage fan and you are only happy when it rains then last night gave you a one-two punch to heaven. Rain coming down outside and Garbage on stage, it was a good night to be out.” Well, here they are back in DC, this time in celebration of the 20th Anniversary of their self-titled debut album. Much like the show in’13, it was raining. This must be some sort of genius marketing trick by the band, right?


Well ok, maybe not. But it was raining.


First let me say I can’t believe it has been 20 years since the album came out. I didn’t authorize that much passage of time, then again, no one asked. Getting prepped for this show I was listening to the first album pretty heavily and I have to say that there is nothing about this album that sounds dated. Every track sounds and feels like it could be a new cut today; the timelessness of this album speaks to the timelessness of the band. Yes the years have passed but that doesn’t show in the fun the band appeared to have on stage. But this write-up isn’t just about the sound of the first album, or is it.


For those who are regular readers of my concert write-ups know that I try to toss in a little photographer behind-the-scenes info so here we go. So it is pretty much standard that as a photographer you are given the first three songs to capture all the images you can. In that limited time you need to jump in, scramble in the pit with all the other shooters and only then can you step away and enjoy the show. Tonight’s show was a little different. When I got the approval to shoot I was informed that I would have access to the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th songs in the set. I figured there was something different with the first song so no big deal. As long as I got three songs I was happy.


The lights went down and the very full crowd – both nights in DC were sold out – exploded with excitement. A large piece of white fabric came down and some video was projected. Standing on the far side in front of the stage I couldn’t see well but it sounded like it was clips from their history and about the band. The clips ended and the first notes were being struck for ‘Subhuman’. For the entirety of the first song the sheet stayed up and the crowd watched as the silhouettes of the band rocked out the first song of the night. A flood of white light and sound soaked the audience.


After the first song ended the fabric came down and myself and the other photographers were ready to jump into position but had to stay calm enough to let the crew remove the sheet, saving it from being trampled upon by us shooters. With ‘Supervixen’ starting to blast we slowly made our way into the pit cameras raised and shutters firing off as fast as the riffs were coming.


The color pink was the theme of the night, echoing the cover from the debut album. From Shirley’s hair to the feather boa to the intense flooding of pink light – oh and a lot of red was used too, quite a lot. This is the third time I have attended one of their concerts in two years and I have to say I thought that Shirley and crew has sounded better with each outing. Garbage just gets better with age.


‘Queer’ was the third song of the night, and our halfway point in shooting. I know they have been performing these songs for, well, two decades but there was nothing tired in their delivery. There are some artists who get to the point where they get so comfortable with playing their ‘old standbys’ that the excitement and pop of the song is lost. It is a testament to Garbage that this was never the case throughout the night.


After ‘Queer’ ended we photographers got something that just about never happens, we kind of got a chance to catch our breath before shooting the last song. It was between ‘Queer’ and ‘Girl Don’t Come’ that the music paused and Shirley addressed the audience. The crowd was informed that the set list for the tour was only tracks that were released during the 95-96 years. What this meant was the debut album and B-Sides. I know other artists tour to celebrate a certain album and they mix that in with other albums to switch between old and new, not tonight. And this is where my statement about the timelessness of their songs really comes into play. At no point did this feel like a look back at the past – everything felt fresh and exciting.


With the pleasantries taken care of it was time to get back into the music. ‘Girl Don’t Come’ we were informed came about because they were on the road and their label called and said they needed a B-Side, and not only did they need it but it needed to be done, well now no pressure. What we heard next was the result of that cram session and it didn’t sound like a last minute creation.


Song number 4 over, we left the pit dripping sweat and now had to try and make our way through the crowd, going against the stream. I spent the first four songs of the show right up front at the stage with some of the best views in the house. For the remainder of the show I camped out back at the doors next to the merch table. The doors, when opened, would give a brief hint of a breeze and I wasn’t as tightly squeezed, which is a nice thing considering the cameras and such.


The energy and excitement I felt practically standing next to the members of Garbage while they performed was not lost standing at the back of the room. Everything sounded spectacular; it was Beautiful Garbage (see what I did there).


We drifted from album cuts to B-sides and honestly, if you weren’t familiar with the album you would think all the tracks performed tonight were from a main release. They didn’t take a half-assed approach to creating B-side songs, nor did they take a half-assed approach to performing them. Each song was treated as their baby. Some songs flowed from one to the next while others were given a brief intro. Before ‘Driving Lesson’ was played Shirley talked about when she couldn’t drive and the benefits of imagination when one was stuck somewhere.


The last three slots of the set were reserved for ‘Only Happy When It Rains’, ‘Stupid Girl’ and a song that I couldn’t wait to hear ‘#1 Crush’. What a way to end the set! They took us on a trip through time and what a trip it was. And at the culmination of the trip they left us with what I think is one of the sexiest songs to ever be released by any band.


A brief break for the band and back they came for an encore. The four-song encore did shift things up just a little bit. They no longer tied themselves to the timeframe of the rest of the set, but instead started off with a cover song ‘Kick My Ass’ written by Vic Chesnutt and then followed it up with ‘Trip My Wire.’ After that song we jumped ahead in time by a decade and we were treated to ‘Bad Boyfriend’ and ‘Why Do You Love Me’


Well, I can answer the last song; I know why we love Garbage. 20 years ago, when their album was released many of us in attendance were in High School or just getting of High School and experiencing the real world, either with college or working. This is a major transition time in someone’s life. The music and lyrics in Garbage’s album spoke to that time in our life – it helped to carry us through and to keep pushing forward. The combination of the time, the talent, and the world, that we understood, endeared Garbage to us. As they grew and evolved so did we. Their debut was not some lackluster album but something that coon rapids singles struck and struck hard. It spoke to our generation. Many of us were lost and in a time musically where the “Seattle Sound” was waning and was a way we identified with others and we needed all that we could cling onto. I think Garbage helped fill that and we never forgot it. I know, I know, this is supposed to be a concert wrap-up piece, not a nostalgic adventure trying to decode why we love Garbage.


Why do we love you? Well, because as you said, you weren’t up there just celebrating the anniversary of the album and the band, you were also celebrating the anniversary of us the audience canada filipina dating being right there with you all those years. You were on that stage performing. You were on that stage playing your music, but we all had a part in it and you celebrated our involvement. That inclusion, that partnership if you will, makes it less like a group of strangers gathering to watch a band and more like a collection of people publicly sharing in something 20 years in the making.


And when we left the venue the rain had stopped … but we were still happy.


Garbage – 930

Flickr Album Gallery Powered By: Weblizar
Facebooktwitterredditpinterestmailby feather
Facebooktwitterrssinstagramby feather