Remember that scene in The Simpsons when Homer goes to the She She Lounge and realizes something is a little different? He’s sitting at the bar and posits, “Wait a minute, there’s something bothering me about this place.” After a pause he finally figures it out, “I know! This lesbian bar doesn’t have a fire exit!”
It took me 18 songs into a 20 song set to realize just how popular Garbage is in the LGBTQ community. After “Push It” and before “When I Grow Up,” the stage lights (which were definitely a highlight of the show, they’re slightly more effective than the light setup Nine Inch Nails is currently using on their “Cold and Black and Infinite Tour” and that’s a high compliment considering just how great NIN stage setups have been for 30 years) featured the colors of a rainbow. I looked around and realized there were remarkably more same sex couples than not.
Garbage, a band that gained a large and loyal fan base on their initial run from 1995 to 2005, reunited full time in 2012 and has been regularly playing to that large and loyal fan base since. Sunday evenings sold-out show at The Lincoln Theatre was no different. It definitely reflected what we wrote about the band’s live shows in 2012 and 2013. The crowd that loved them when their self-titled album and Version 2.0 were released is still buying tickets. In other words, the crowd at a Garbage show is an older crowd. For better or worse, it may be good the band is playing a seated theater, hell, it may be why the D.C. date was the first that sold-out when tickets were released.
The five-piece sounds great. They sound better than expected. Manson’s voice has taken no hits, a feat considering they’re nearly two full months into their worldwide Version 2.0 tour. Unsurprisingly, Erikson, Marker, Vig and bassist Eric Avery, are a tight unit comprised of veteran musicians. They’re good enough to be a Las Vegas house band.
The set list on this tour (it’s been the same every night), consists almost entirely of Version 2.0. But it’s not played in order. It opens with “Afterglow,” a b-side. Then comes “Deadwood,” another b-side. Their third song is the 1998 album opener “Temptation Waits.” It’s an odd way to present an album that’s the basis of the tour. You will hear all 12 songs on the original album and most of the b-sides, just not the way you remember it. You will not hear “Queer” or “Stupid Girl” or “Only Happy When It Rains” or “Androgyny” or “Bleed Like Me.” You will be surrounded by people that love those songs.
It’s not a nostalgia tour. It doesn’t look like the musicians need this. It does appear that they’re enjoying their time on stage. Ditto the crowd. The teenagers who loved the band that wrote “Queer” and “Stupid Girl” and “Sleep Together” still identify deeply with Garbage. Manson told us about it when we spoke to her in the summer of 2016. It was evident at The Lincoln Theatre in 2018. All of the kids who were formed by the listening to their CDs on repeat in their bedroom now have money to see the group in a theater on a school night. The older kids sat in the balcony. The older kids with better knees danced in the first 10 rows.