Garbage @ Stubb’s 10/14

IMG_1510Nostalgia is a hell of a thing. One can rarely go through their day without being bombarded by any number of listicles or haphazard photo galleries geared toward a generation who came of age during the ’90s. Words like Buzzfeed are synonymous with a signed and sealed sentimentality for times we fondly look back on with willful disregard of the negative. We have a seemingly insatiable need to know where our child stars are, how those in pop culture have aged, and what those bands we grew up listening to sound like 20 years later.

The music that was popular in 1995, to be fair, has held up considerably better than much of what came later in the decade. Gems from PJ Harvey, Guided By Voices, The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Pulp far outweigh societal missteps like Slash’s Snakepit, Everclear, and Shaggy. For better or worse, an increasing number of artists have jumped at the chance to revisit those albums that are approaching a 20, 25, or 30 year anniversary, or to put aside past differences and get the band back in the studio. Most bands do this with aplomb and the releases are met with an expected amount of fanfare. Garbage, it should be noted, only meet half of the above criteria as the band technically never parted ways but still wished to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their double platinum debut.

Like most nights, this Wednesday evening saw legions of music-loving miscreants shuffling up and down Austin’s Red River district and into the wealth of venues that haven’t yet mutated into condos. After passing the gates into Stubb’s outdoor space and lumbering down a gradual incline, those smart enough to arrive before sunset were met with a tempestuous and all too short set from Nashville’s Torres. The musical alias of Mackenzie Scott, Torres’ orchestral guitar pop was backed by three other musicians on guitar, bass, and drums. Though short, the selection of songs played ranged from lush melancholy (“New Skin”) to voice-cracking anger (set closer and barnburner “Strange Hellos”). Scott manages to embody an earnest angst on her newest album, Sprinter, which provided most of the set list for the evening.

Garbage is a bit of a strange beast. The members’ influences and outside achievements at times belie much of the audience who show up to watch them. Knowing even a little about their past makes it impossible to pass them off as another also-ran ’90s alternative band who just won’t quit. Founders Butch Vig and Duke Erikson were in a pretty decent ’80s powerpop/new wave band for instance (with releases on a label owned by Vig and Steve Marker). Vig helped to record a healthy portion of releases from noise rock purveyors Killdozer, not to mention a slew of bands on the legendary Touch And Go label. Shirley Manson has been playing music since grade school and has been in touring bands since high school.

Leading up to the moment they played, a video briefly documenting their history as a band and their time on the road was displayed on the bottom of the large white awning that hangs over the stage. Feather boas and pink wigs peppered the audience, which by this time had grown to the full capacity that the sold out show would allow. The video ended and the front of the house went dark, cheers erupted as Manson, Marker, Vig, and Erikson approached their marks. Without a word, the quartet (plus a silent bassist in the shadows) launched into “Subhuman,” followed by “Supervixen.” The crowd jumped and danced, fists cutting into the air as Vig’s drumming created the persistent electronic thumping to which the other members attached their instruments.

Between introductions to songs such as “Girl Don’t Come” and “Not My Idea,” Manson was elated with the response their 20 year old tunes were eliciting from a crowd who ranged in age from infantile to well in the 50s. Among their debut album being played in its entirety (albeit split up throughout the set) other song appearances included a cover of The Jam’s “Butterfly Collector,” “Driving Lesson,” “Sleep,” and a set closer of “#1 Crush.” A four-song encore of “Kick My Ass,” “Trip My Wire,” “I Think I’m Paranoid,” and “When I Grow Up” brought the total set list count to 22.

Setlist:
Subhuman
Supervixen
Queer
Girl Don’t Come
As Heaven Is Wide
The Butterfly Collector
Not My Idea
Driving Lesson
Milk
Fix Me Now
My Lover’s Box
Sleep
Vow
Dog New Tricks
A Stroke of Luck
Only Happy When It Rains
Stupid Girl
#1 Crush

Encore:
Kick My Ass
Trip My Wire
I Think I’m Paranoid
When I Grow Up

By Greg Stitt

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