Wednesday night’s Garbage concert at La Zona Rosa was a long time coming for fans in Austin. Aside from having to wait seven years between releases, the show was a make-up date from their originally scheduled show in April that had to be cancelled due to a family medical emergency. Aside from performing in Austin again, fans got a look of one of the best up-and-coming female-fronted bands of today in Screaming Females. It was a great start to the pre-ACL Fest madness that would take over the rest of the weekend.
A virtual unknown to the mainstream alternative radio listeners of world, New Brunswick, New Jersey’s Screaming Females opened the show. Fronted by Marissa Paternoster, the band was a great opener to introduce to what appeared to be mostly late-20s-and-up crowd. Without a hipster in site and no PBR in anyone’s hand that I could see, I think it was safe to say most of the crowd was unfamiliar with Screaming Females.
From the moment I started watching their set, their energy level was a high and all eyes were on Paternoster as she sang/screamed like a young Courtney Love. She absolutely shredded on guitar, as the band plowed through songs from their latest album, Ugly. There wasn’t anything that would have lead me to believe this was the same woman that had to cancel the Screaming Females’ tour dates after Wednesday’s show due to Paternoster suffering from mononucleosis (mono) that had been bothering her since this past summer. Their set was so memorable that Garbage came out from backstage to bring them drinks and give them an ovation.
Eighteen years after their formation and sixteen years since I last saw them in concert, during the late ‘90s when the Austin Music Hall didn’t have balcony seats, Garbage still have it. Sure, they aren’t as young and as full of angst as they once were, but they sounded pretty close to what I remembered. Shirley Manson still looked and sounded great, reminding me why she has influenced so many of today’s young female artists.
After opening with “Automatic System Habit” and their classic radio hit “Paranoid,” some technical difficulties caused a small delay that sort of forced Manson to talk to the crowd to not only thank them for coming, but to talk about booking the tour and thinking no one would have cared. Of course that couldn’t be further from the truth here in Austin, as the show was sold out for months.
Technical difficulties aside, Garbage got back to business performing songs in support of Not Your Kind Of People. While most fans politely clapped and enjoyed those tracks, the real cheers and crowd sing alongs came with classic hits “Stupid Girl,” “Special” and “Push It.” Garbage ended their regular set with “Only Happy When It Rains.”
Of course the concert couldn’t end without an encore, so play on after loud applause and short break they did. Screaming Females front woman Marissa Paternoster joined Garbage on stage for a cover of Patti Smith’s “Because The Night.” Paternoster and Manson embraced and Manson took over with her band to finish the night off with “I Hate Love” from Not Your Kind Of People and the band’s first ever single “VOW.” What a great song to to close the night and bring the band’s catalogue of great alt-rock hits full circle.