Music is prone to nostalgia more so than any other form of art. There’s something about hearing a chord or melody again which brings one back to the first time they heard it.
For me, Garbage’s concert Tuesday night swept me right back into my high school world, sinking into the same chill, post-grunge vibes which consumed my angsty 15-year-old self.
For most of the audience at The Sylvee, the tones brought them back 20 years prior, remembering the year when the group’s multi-platinum album Version 2.0 was released.
It’s odd to regard Garbage’s sound as “retro” given the resurgence of common themes from the post-grunge musical vernacular. Electronic music has allowed the serene soundscape established by post-grunge acts to reemerge and expand, as seen with opening act, Rituals of Mine.
The short set seemed thoroughly based in modern trends (including singer Terra Lopez’s stylish jumpsuit), yet it was clear when Garbage took the stage for their portion of the evening where the inspiration for the sound came from.
Rituals of Mine was impassioned in their performance, though Lopez chose to cut off each song with a “thank you” before the tune had finished resonating. This came off as amateurish when compared to the quality of music and high production value of the act.
When Garbage took the stage for their two hour set, they exemplified what happens when professionalism meets passion. Clad in a sparkling orange dress, lead singer Shirley Manson sounded just as raw and blunt as she did when the band recorded Version 2.0 20 years ago in Madison.
The tunes created by Manson, keyboardist and guitarist Duke Erikson, guitarist Steve Marker and drummer Butch Vig hypnotized the audience with an immense sense of calm — swapping the traditional mass head banging seen at rock concerts with a collective sway that rises about from great post-grunge.
While I typically try to be an observer of these types of crowd phenomena, I found myself drifting into the sway as the setlist went on — mimicking the flannel-clad audience around me.
Not bogged down in any dated metaphors, the lyrics to Garbage’s songs are still applicable to many lives. Highlights of the evening included the band’s title song used for the James Bond film “The World is Not Enough,” the rollicking “Get Busy with the Fizzy” and the top single “Special” off of Version 2.0.
Most songs blurred together into non-distinctiveness and this aided in creating a room filled with “good vibrations” as Manson noted. The new venue provided a perfect atmosphere for Garbage’s set.
Garbage’s return to their Madison home made for one of my favorite evenings of music in recent memory and I — as well as many in the audience — are excited to see the band return to new music as they complete their next album.
Until then, as Manson told the crowd, “Be hot, be passionate, be messy and don’t give a shit.”