One of my wife’s favorite bands ever, Garbage is touring North America again and about to head over to Europe. Before they left, my wife and I chased them down in Dallas, TX on a Thursday evening.
I say one of my wife’s favorite bands, but I’d say they’ve always subconsciously been one of mine as well. I’m finding as I age well into my forties, I neglected some of the music that deep-down I really f*cking loved when I was younger. So I’ve been making up for lost time.
The band was playing at The Southside Ballroom just south of downtown Dallas. It’s a stand-only space with room for 2,000 guests. It’s part of the larger, Gilley’s entertainment complex – yes, as in Mickey Gilley – famous honky-tonk nightclub owner/musician.
The evening started off with a long line wrapped around the building, full of a rather eclectic mix of fans. All ages – many, like myself obviously older with deep ‘90’s roots to former glory days.
We started filing in around sunset. My wife and I got a comfortable, forward standing spot about 12 feet maybe from the stage, just stage left of center. Great view. The problem is, once in position, you really can’t move or the stand-only douchebags start to invade. So, I got my wife and I drinks and stupidly opened a tab – thinking I’d be back. But defending your spot is like defending a border between two warring nations. So, I never went back for more. That part of festival seating – I really, really hate.
So, about an hour after we planted ourselves, the opening band came out. This is a band called Torres. More accurately, it’s the lead singer/guitarist’s name (her real name is Mackenzie Scott.) She’s a 24 year-old singer/songwriter, hailing from Nashville actually.
I have to say, this band is the first new opening act I have liked in the past 6 years of concerts. The last opening act I liked was Muse opening for U2 @ Scott Stadium, University of Virginia in 2009. Torres consists of four members, lead singer/guitarist, another guitarist, drummer, and a female keyboard player who doubles as bass player. Now that part – a little off-putting for me, a bassist by (former) trade, but the sound of the band despite this, I really liked.
Their music is hard to describe actually – I’d have to say there are elements of grunge-era, somewhat hard-edged electronic at times and folk-like all at once. Torres’ lyrics are painful, powerful verses that are delivered with the angst almost of a Cobain and the soulful voice of a Sinead O’Connor or Dolores O’Riordan. In fact, I would‘ve guessed the band to be Irish or UK in origin at first.
I would recommend this band to anyone looking for something to break the stale monotony of music circulating today. Check them out: http://torrestorrestorres.com/ But on to the main event.
While the Garbage road crew was setting the stage, they dropped a large, white sheet completely across it and began projecting movie theater commercials from probably the 1950’s to 1970’s. It was interesting and comical – I even saw a few from the 70’s that my mind hadn’t thought of since.
When the band came out, the sheet stayed in place. The entire first number was done behind the sheet with only the silhouette of the band members rocking out as if they were in view of an audience. It was actually a pretty cool trick and kept the anticipatory tension building.
When they finally dropped the curtain, all was of course revealed. Shirley Manson was wearing a funky-hip, pink mini-dress and a bright pink hair-do (I’m assuming this was a breast-cancer awareness thing), boots and what appeared to be no stockings. She also had solid black panties on underneath and apparently no bra, if you catch my meaning. She’s still got a tight build and I’d have to say her exhibition-style peep show added a bit of excitement to the male – well, all in the audience interested in a woman’s form. It was cool though because Shirley is a powerful, self-centered woman who doesn’t NEED to put on a sexy show for fans – I’d honestly guess she just likes it. Which displays her honesty and is cool.
The rest of the band, guitarist Duke Erikson, guitarist/keyboardist Steve Marker, bassist Eric Avery and drummer/producer Butch Vig rocked in their 50’s and 60’s as they did 20 years prior in a much younger state. I honestly did not make the connection until I read it recently that Butch was the producer of the Nirvana hit album, “Nevermind.” He’s also produced several other big name acts like Smashing Pumpkins, Green Day, Jimmy Eat World and the Subways. Bad on me.
Anyway, the show – was PHENOMENAL! The more I sit back and think about it, the more I realize that Garbage is a truly polished band with monster chops and the ability to generate a studio quality, live sound in a way that many bands simply cannot master. Shirely’s voice … absolutely flawless and beautiful.
The stage was fairly simple – not much in the way of flash – just a polished light show, some speaker cabs with pink on them acting as props and just instrumentation with minimal amplification. The resulting sound quality was exquisite. Loud, but not anywhere near overbearing, every instrument was distinguishable from the next – excellent sound engineering.
The only drawback to the tour – and Shirley explained it from the beginning, was that they only played their music from 1995-1996 – I’m guessing in honor of their 20th Anniversary. And while the music was all incredible, I do wish we could’ve heard some more from other albums. They did play a couple from their second album, the infamous Version 2.0, which was nice.
I can honestly say in the end, this was one of my favorite shows ever. I had a great time, despite having to fight back the rudest of the rude, who inevitably always try to edge in front of you at festival shows. I am absolutely glad I made the trek down to the Big D to see them before they headed off across the Pond.
I am looking forward to hopefully seeing them again!
– Chris Eagle (Cleveland, Ohio)