Garbage with Rituals of Mine - The Sylvee, Madison WI Oct 16th, 2018

by John Noyd
Posted: Oct 2018
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Shirley Manson of Garbage - photo by Russell Kershaw

Shirley Manson of Garbage - photo by Russell Kershaw

Starting out wonderfully sultry with the sparse, slinky, “Afterglow,” Garbage built up steam slowly, celebrating the 20th Anniversary of their sophomore, “Version 2.0,” with an intimate examination of the band’s pivotal album. In many ways, “2.0,” is where Garbage began to become a real band, hunkering down to follow-up their smashing debut. They hunkered down in Madison, in Smart Studios and the subsequent work spawned several experiments that became standard band characteristics. In particular, their love of pop crept into their dense electro-rock configuration with songs like, “Special,” and, “Push It,” nodding to songs within a song. To that point, The Sylvee witnesses Fleetwood Mac’s, “Dreams,” Depeche Mode’s, “Personal Jesus,” and The Kinks’, “Tired of Waiting,” making sly appearances in the band’s nearly two dozen song set-list.

While the audience may not have recognized all the songs as being from “Version 2.0,” the tour dived into this year’s deluxe 2 CD reissue that included such gems as their covers of Big Star’s, “Thirteen,” and The Seeds’, “Can’t Seem to Make You Mine.” Both which appeared halfway through a show punctuated by humble asides and bombastic performances. Front-woman and non-Madisonian Shirley Manson, dressed in a shiny red dress with make-up somewhere between Blade Runner chic and Japanese Kabuki, paused to personalize these b-sides and deep cuts with stories of late-night phone-calls from Cafe Montmartre and marathon studio sessions broken up by runs to Ancora Coffee. Suddenly, “Get Busy with the Fizzy,” and “Hammering In My Head,” took on a more palatable persona, backed by actual facts and driven home by Butch Vig’s rumbling drums and triggered rhythms. 

Reassessing the culture that spawned the album, the decadence the band once harbored in unique freak anthems, “I Think I’m Paranoid,” and, “When I Grow Up.” have now become battle-cries for inclusion and acceptance.  History has been kind to the continued relevance and prophetic insight inside, ” Version 2.0,” with its remix-ready karate-chop riffs, cathedral-worthy keyboard power-chords and edgy, anti-establishment insistence. Twenty years later, the album’s precocious notions prove to be nuanced improvements in musical fusions as the skilled hands of Duke Erickson and Steve Marker welded processed guitars to seamless samples for enhanced ambience and optimal sonics. 

Two hours later, the band seems tireless, and as they wrapped up the night, much that Shirley referenced earlier was summed up in, “The Trick Is Too Keep Breathing.” Having experienced the ups and down of a band that began as a band of the moment and proved to be influential taste-makers, Garbage seemed genuinely grateful their dream continues to this day. Fitting then they closed the night with a new song, “No Horses,” before getting The Sylvee back up one more time with the smart, funky, “Cherry Lips.”

The evening’s opener, Rituals of Mine came on like gangbusters with a sleek data-banked techno-groove catapulted by the duo’s live thunder-drum percussion and dynamic lead singer.  A nice complement to Garbage’s pioneering work fusing electronics to rock, RoM’s relentless energy seemed worthy inheritors of the techno-groovy revolution.