The alt-rock band Garbage, which filled the dreams of so many a teen with empowering angst back in the mid-1990s, returned to NYC with a grand production at Central Park Summerstage. The band has just released another immaculate album (their 6th) called Strange Little Birds that really seems to have recaptured the magic and power of their earlier, edgier sound more than any album they have done since the 90s. Over the years, this band has cultivated an extreme talent for somehow merging many genres of music seamlessly, melding the defiant, searing anger of riot grrrl, masculine growl of grunge, synthy beats and drive of industrial, and even a poppy trip hop catchiness. Similarly, they have an uncanny ability to attract an audience from all corners of the music scene, from the queer culture which they have been known to celebrate in song, to teen girls looking for empowerment, to jock boys loving the charging rock with a strong, sexy Scottish accent.
Kristin Kontrol, better known as Dee Dee from the strut-heavy shoegaze band Dum Dum Girls, opened the show. Her new solo outing clearly has a way glitzier 80s dancepop style than the garage-y, heavy, dark edge of the afore-mentioned band of which she is really the only core creative member of anyways. So, I suppose you could say this is Dee Dee’s attempt to go full-on pop and finally embrace the fully-fledged celebrity stardom she has been flirting with and periodically pulling herself away from in crimson lipstick-covered “Art School Girls of Doom”-styled indifference. At times it works, with qualities of The Go-Gos, The Raveonettes, and Yeah Yeah Yeahs carried over from Dee Dee’s former persona, only now with a seriously repetitive pop march and cleaner harmony more reminiscent of Mariah Carrey, Madonna, and Bananarama of 80’s commercial heights. She played several songs off her debut album X-Communicate that was just released back in May, and I feel certain her powerful charisma and talent will continue to flourish no matter what she calls herself next.
Garbage came out to a stage aptly bathed in pink that blended well with singer Shirley Manson’s cotton candy-colored hair and robes that felt as though they would scorch off when her frosty purr grew into a molten roar in volcanic swells during the songs. It’s always inspiring to see original line-ups of bands still rocking strong after all these years. Although, it should be said founding drummer Butch Vig could not go out on tour under orders from his doctors, but guitarists Steve Marker and Duke Erikson were still thundering by Shirley’s side throughout with a hefty backing complement of musicians to fill out the deep soundscape, including Jane’s Addiction’s Eric Avery on bass.
When I saw them last year, they were reveling more in nostalgia as it was the 20th anniversary of their debut album, which is still the source of most of their hits. However, this show was clearly a more balanced setlist of all their albums, old and new. They started with some from that first LP like “Supervixen” and “Stupid Girl,” and later on “Vow” and “Only Happy When It Rains,” but also played at least two or three songs a piece from their other albums and a big chunk of the new disc about half way through the show. It was a great night to raise your fist in defiant protest and dance out your anger.
Article: Dean Keim