As soon as word got out that Garbage got back together, angsty 90s teens (who all probably have angsty toddlers of their own now) rushed out to get themselves copies of Not Your Kind of People – the band’s first record together after six years. Reactions toward the album have been lukewarm, but announcements of their decision to perform in Singapore still didn’t fail to grab the attention of fans from neighbouring countries. JUICE Malaysia included.
We made our way to the southern island and were greeted at the gates with a crowd that had come to relive their younger days. Some of whom even brought their kids along to enjoy it with them. As for us, we wanted to go crazy to some ‘Stupid Girl’.
Fort Canning Park might be a real cosy place, but the slope that gives everyone a good view of the stage is a real pain in the ankles when you start jumping around to mosh. But luckily, it being Singapore and all, there wasn’t much of that going on.
A dropped track from Not Your Kind of People called ‘Time Will Destroy Everything’ was adopted by the band as the introduction theme for the tour. A title that aptly describes Garbage’s decision to reunite, as proven by the show that followed (if the album wasn’t enough).
Okay, that sounded a little harsh.
They weren’t terrible. We still enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, and so did the rest of the audience. It’s just that it’s obvious how Garbage has lost their relevance. It’s not their fault, they’ve just grown out of the mentality of their original demographic, making their new stuff (where they’re still celebrating being an outcast) sound disingenuous.
Opening the show with ‘Supervixen’, the band ensured the crowd that they weren’t going to ignore demands for past hits (unlike some people, we’re looking at you Morrissey). We were really impressed with how accurately close it sounded to the studio recording of the song. But about 5-6 songs later, when they were playing ‘Why Do You Love Me’ with perfect tone and timing, impressive slowly turned into overkill.
Usually perfection is a compliment, but this one felt like it was lacking character. With the male members of the group having had a background in producing (that makes everyone but Shirley), guess it’s not difficult to imagine how things got that way. Sure, they created an iconic sound, but their pursuit to sound perfect leaped out of their album, and onto the stage, and had the performance feeling a little robotic, music wise.
Though the showmanship was anything but. Shirley Manson, who like a vampire, doesn’t seem to age, really worked the crowd like the pro that she is and had everyone swaying (moshing is banned in Singapore, right?).
But Garbage themselves don’t really try to mask the fact that they’re more wanted for their classic hits. Because after more than halfway through the concert it donned on us that they hadn’t played a single track from their new record. Pretty strange for a tour that’s dedicated to it.
Well they did play ‘Big Bright World’ and ‘Battle in Me’ as part of the main set list but 2 out of a 17 song list seems scarce when you think about it. They had decided to keep all the rest of the new material for the encore, surprising those who hadn’t heard the tracks ‘Automatic Systematic Habit’, ‘Vow’, and their bizarre homage to Pink Floyd, the title track ‘Not Your Kind of People’.
Not that we’re complaining about the band’s approach to concert setlists. Most “old” (we use this word loosely cause all rockstars are 12-year olds at heart, and some in the brain) artists are delusional and still think they’re the shit, thus they wonder, “why doesn’t anyone know how to sing along to my new single?” In that sense, Garbage should be praised for their unpretentious ways.
The gig, though not the best concert we’ve been to, was still definitely not the worst. It just came off overproduced, just like the album. And befitting the country they decided to ditch us for.
Garbage performed at Fort Canning Park, Singapore on 21 August 2012. Don’t mind the criticisms, the writer might have just been bitter that one of his favourite 90s bands decided to go to Singapore and not make a stop in KL. For more pictures, click here. Check out more of Garbage at garbage.com.