When Garbage came on the scene in 1995 they brought a whole new sound to the airwaves. This was accomplished by combining electronic samples, alt-rock and pop sensibilities, plus a frontwoman with an emotive vocal style. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the self-titled debut album by alt-rock pioneers Garbage. In celebration, Garbage launched a short twenty-six date tour that stopped at Stubb’s on Wednesday night. The tour promised a full play-through of their first album with the addition of B-sides recorded at the time. While this has been very common of late with many bands of the Nineties hitting on the twenty year mark in their careers, Garbage decided to do it a little different. Instead of playing the album track for track as recorded, they instead played it out of order with B-sides sprinkled throughout, making for a more cohesive concert experience.
After a short intro video, backed by B-Side “Alien Sex Fiend”, Shirley Manson and company took the stage to a roar of applause from the sold out crowd. After opening the show with another B-Side, “Subhuman”, Garbage launched into the first two tracks from the album, “Supervixen” and the tour’s namesake “Queer”. Austin has always been important to Garbage as Manson acknowledged that the B-Side “Girl Don’t Come” was inspired by a journalist that they had hung out with in Austin twenty years ago that also happened to be at the show that night. True to their word, the whole main set list consisted of their debut album and what Manson coined “bizarre tracks for the super fans”, many of which had never been played live before. The last few songs before the encore break consisted of the singles “I’m Only Happy When It Rains” and “Stupid Girl” before closing with “#1 Crush”, the latter of which was notably featured on the Nineties remake of Romeo & Juliet. After a brief break, the band returned to an eruption of applause as they launched into a cover of the late Vic Chesnutt’s “Kick My Ass”. After a final B-side, “Trip My Wire”, they closed with the two of their singles from their sophomore album Version 2.0, “I Think I’m Paranoid” and “When I Grow Up”.
It was obvious from the first note that the band sounded just as good as they did twenty years ago. Manson’s voice is as strong as it ever was, legendary producer, Butch Vig, is just as deft on the drums, guitarists Duke Erikson and Steve Marker played their unique effects, and ex-Jane’s Addiction bassist Eric Avery adroitly filled out the rhythm section. Impressively, the whole two hour set kept everyone’s attention throughout. Anytime Shirley Manson opened her mouth, whether to talk to the crowd or sing another song, the crowd shut-up and listened, which is not an easy feat these days, especially in Austin.