Garbage is in my top five favorite bands and they have always been on my list to see live. This time around they played two nights (October 21st and 22nd) at the historic Lincoln Theatre in DC playing their critically acclaimed second album Version 2.0 in its entirety plus B-sides for the 20th anniversary. They did the same tour setup three years ago for their debut album.
Version 2.0 isn’t my standout favorite Garbage album, but as I listened to it to prepare for the show in the months before I quickly fell in love with the songs and B-sides.
This show was general admission seating so getting there early was a priority for me. As I waited in line I heard one of the VIP concertgoers speak about the numerous times he had seen Garbage over the years. “This has to be the weirdest tour just in the sense that the songs are so slow and the set feels like it drags on a bit”. Frankly I found the album did take a little while to grow on me as a whole, though I’ve always liked it since first listen. Upon entrance to the venue the layout, lighting and decor took me by storm. The venue lived up to the regal pictures I saw online while purchasing tickets. Front row seats were easily secured and now all that was left was waiting.
Garbage came out and started the night off with the B-side “Afterglow”, a slow and dreary tune that set up the perfect emo/goth tone the album often embraces. Most of the crowd lived the first few songs through their phones.
The first feeling of crowd energy and excitement came at the third song played, the opener to Version 2.0 “Temptation Waits”. One of the strongest songs on the album, the crowd singalongs to the chorus of “You come on like a drug – I just can’t get enough – I’m like an addict coming at you for a little more – but there’s so much at stake – I can’t afford to wait – I’ve never needed anybody like this before”. A brilliant display is painted in the song and the enthusiasm seemed to kick in.
The set list didn’t follow the traditional album order. The band pieced the songs together in such a way that you never knew what emotions would be felt next.
“13x Forever and “Get Busy With the Fizzy” were a great pair of back to back B-sides played next. Butch Vig’s dominating drums and the ever adaptable guitar duo of Steve Marker and Duke Erikson were on top of the songs the whole night.
Songs were often proceeded by prerecorded audio and quotes from various sources. This heightened the impact of a gut-wrenching ballad like “Medication”. The theme of depression and getting through hard times is one repeated on the album, so you can only imagine what Shirley must feel singing some of the songs, she often looked as if certain songs really hit her.
“I Think I’m Paranoid”, “Push It” and “When I Grow Up” were dispersed toward the end of the pre-encore set. The crowd erupted when each hit was played and the band owned the stage as you could feel the experience in these songs as they are typically played on other tours whereas most of Version 2.0 doesn’t see the light of day. Getting the opportunity to hear the lesser played songs was amazing for any super fan.
“Soldier Through This” and “You Look So Fine” were standout songs diving deep into the potential of Garbage as a band. They often create so much sonic depth and transcend into something so surreal.
An interesting part of the show was the covers played. Some were originally B-sides while others were played in the middle of other album tracks. An enchanting and heartfelt version of Big Star’s “Thirteen” was my favorite. Garbage’s version was even praised by songwriter Alex Chilton himself, who wasn’t please by most covers of the song. Another brilliant cover was the fuzzy and spacey rendition of The Seeds’ “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine”. Others that were played included Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus”, The Kinks’ “Tired of Waiting”, Siouxsie and the Banshees’ “Happy House and Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”.
A reoccurring issue throughout the show was Shirley Manson’s frustration at the sound mix she was getting in her in-ear monitors. She often took one out and plugged her ear to sing and shrugged and grunted at the sound man. From what I’ve heard this has happened at other shows on this tour as well. Personally most artist I have seen use in-ear monitors always end up taking them out anyway, when they could easily use earplugs and on stage monitors instead.
“The Trick is to Keep Breathing” started the encore as the band returned to the stage. Manson explained she had gotten the song title from a novel and dedicated the song to anyone going through a tough time and reminded everyone that you have to remember the special things in life.
Aside from Version 2.0 and its B-sides, Garbage did grace the near sold out crowd with three other songs. The James Bond theme “The World is Not Enough” being played early on and they would end with the other two during the encore.
“#1 Crush” was played as an “audible from the printed set list and was a pleasant surprise.
“Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)” was played last and Manson expressed her distaste with the current happenings in the fight for gender fluidity and equality. An uplifting message that had the crowd applauding loudly and it was quite the way to end the night.
If you ever have a chance to check out a show at the Lincoln Theatre, you should definitely shell out the money. A great venue experience.