Of the bands to come out of the alternative rock boom of the 1990’s, few have been as consistently successful as Garbage. With nearly 20 million album sales claimed since their formation in 1993, Garbage have long been a staple in the alternative rock scene. After keeping a low profile in the 2000’s, Garbage introduced themselves to a whole new generation of fans in 2012 with their album “Not Your Kind of People.” Much of their lyrical content deals with socially relevant topics such as sexuality and gender, topics that are as - if not more - relevant today than when the songs were written. Now in 2016, Garbage are back with another new album, entitled “Strange Little Birds.” It is an album, that goes back to their roots as an alternative rock band, while also blending in some elements from modern pop music. “Strange Little Birds” is nothing drastically different from what Garbage has released in the past, but it does take on a more matured, retrospective feel in both sound and lyrics.
Currently, Garbage are out on tour supporting the new album, last Thursday night they swung by the House of Blues in Boston, MA for a night filled with music that spanned the band’s entire career. Coming out to loud cheers and a sea of cell phones raised in the air, Garbage opened with the slow, sleek number “Supervixen” from their 1995 debut album. Frontwoman Shirley Manson is a performer who does an unparalleled job of selling her performance. With each song she delivers, she does so with attitude, on slower, darker songs her strut and confidence turn Garbage’s songs into true performance art. On faster tunes like “I Think I’m Paranoid” - which was played second – Manson as the ability to bring the energy level in the room up, bouncing and dancing throughout.
Another element of performance that sets Garbage’s live performance apart, is the fact that their song choice mixes each night, giving fans a chance to see something different every night. On Thursday they even pulled out the deep cut “Shut Your Mouth” which was played for the first time in almost 4 years. Later in the set, while performing what is perhaps their signature song, “Only Happy When It Rains” - a popular 90’s jam that anyone who owned a radio in the 90’s would recognize – Manson & Co. had the entire room bouncing and singing along, reliving their younger days. For the encore, they would perform three songs, capping the night with the stalker anthem “#1 Crush” which – again – Manson delivered perfectly, making the song feel like a true performance.
For Garbage, consistency has always been the key, while they did have the hit single in “Only Happy When It Rains” they have continued to perform at the same level of popularity for almost their entire musical career. All four members of Garbage are experienced songwriters and producers allowing them to keep most of their work ‘in house’ and giving them total artistic control. They’ve also managed to keep a similar sound throughout the years, still though, finding ways to adventure and take risks with individual songs. Garbage have aged gracefully throughout the years as well, evolving their songs with them, ensuring you’re going to see more than another 90’s nostalgia act when you come out to their show.