Live Review, 10/1/12: Garbage and Screaming Females Offer a Study in Feminine Snarl at the Warfield
Of course, a large part of Garbage's appeal was always Shirley Manson -- her looks, her devilish personality, her Scottish lilt, her ferocious stage presence, and, um, her looks. Those for whom the first and last qualities were especially important will be relieved to hear that Mason, now 46, still wields an ageless porcelain countenance and lithe silhouette. Her voice also remains as powerfully dark as ever. Manson seemed utterly rabid during the first part of the show, walking around the stage in wide, angry circles, but clearly got a bit more tired and still as the band's set passed the 90-minute mark. Of course she drew no shortage of adoration from the crowd.
Garbage will also be remembered as the band of That Guy Who Produced Nirvana's Nevermind -- for Butch Vig, its drummer/producer and figurehead. His greatest legacy may lie elsewhere, but last night's set served as a solid reminder that with Garbage, Vig and Co. easily anticipated -- and maybe influenced -- the direction of pop-rock for years to come.
Maybe on paper, Garbage seemed to have lots in common with last night's opener, the fire-breathing New Jersey punk rock trio Screaming Females -- both, after all, are led by women. In person, though, the contrast was striking: Screaming Females offered no production, no visual spectacle other than the members' whip-sharp performances, no sound from anything other than what instruments they held onstage -- and they were incredible. Like, devastating: Singer Marissa Paternoster's guitar alternately spat out Sabbathy sludge and flashy solos, all with a possessed energy, and all three members seemed mentally locked-in, dialing back their eruptions on a dime and launching back into the assault just as quickly. They evoked the another legacy of '90s alt: the invincibility and sheer joy of fearless, voracious, category-defying rock 'n' roll. And with a thrilling opening set last night, they also made Garbage's job quite a bit more difficult.
The Departed: Manson, who lost her mother in the years of Garbage's hiatus, noted sadly that the Warfield was the last place her mom ever saw the band play. "There's a lot of ghosts here in this room," she said.
The Crowd: Was one of those that's impossible to generalize about -- young, old, odd, straight, but not particularly one thing or another. We did stand next to some girls in their late teens who were most excited to hear Garbage's post-2000 singles, which seemed weird.
Sex = Battle: Introducing new single "Battle in Me," Mason said: "Sometimes I joke that this next song is my cougar song, but it's actually about losing my virginity," she said, giggling and loquacious. "Losing my virginity, by the way, was really unpleasant."