In the fall of 1995, alternative rock band Garbage made their mark on the international music scene with the release of their self-titled debut album. Twenty years later, the band celebrated the anniversary of their release with a tour across the North America and Europe, dubbed “20 Years Queer”. One of the stops included the recently renamed Revention Music Center, formerly the Bayou Music Center, in Houston, TX, to which I had the pleasure of attending.
The band packed out the considerably large venue with an eclectic array of age groups and its no surprise that with the resurgence of 90s grunge style that teens presently are looking to emulate trendsetting style icons in the music industry like lead singer, Shirley Manson.
It felt like deja vu as Manson graced the stage with a short black dress and tall black boots; an image that felt like it was 1995 all over again. In fact, the only change in 20 years was her normal fiery red tresses were colored pastel pink as a nod to the bright pink feathery album cover many of us have come to know and love. Guitarist Steve Marker, and bassist Duke Erikson happily hid in the shadows most of the night until Shirley made an effort to spotlight them with an introduction to the audience. And of course, drummer Butch Vig needed no introductions, as he is a legend in his own right for producing some of the biggest albums in rock, namely Nirvana’s “Nevermind” and Smashing Pumpkin’s “Siamese Dream.”
The album, known for its hits “Queer”, “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains”, was played in its entirety, with other well known hits and deeper cuts thrown in for good measure. Fans were treated to phenomenal performances of b-sides “Trip My Wire”, “Butterfly Collector” and “Sleep”, as well as “#1 Crush”, a song that was initially a b-side from the band’s debut, but later became a chart topping alternative rock single after appearing on the soundtrack to Baz Luhrmanns modern day cinematic rendition of William Shakespeare’s “Romeo + Juliet”. The band closed out their set with songs “Cherry Lips” from the album Beautiful Garbage and “Push It,” the hit single off of their album Version 2.0.
Twenty years may have passed since their debut album was released, but Garbage took the stage and captured the crowd with the vigor of a newly-signed band. Their music remains relevant and their energy as vibrant as Shirley’s hair. Here’s hoping for two more decades of live music from Shirley Manson and company.