A vast sea of fists pumped in the air throughout Garbage's sold-out show Thursday night at the 9:30 club. That rhythmic response fit quite well with the group's music: intense guitar lines anchored by a pulsing drumbeat.
Although the instrumentation propelled the songs forward, the four backing musicians (drummer Butch Vig, guitarists Steve Marker and Duke Erikson, and guest bassist Eric Avery from Jane's Addiction) barely moved as they pounded away. Their stillness allowed all eyes to focus on vocalist Shirley Manson as she made full use of the stage, strutting in circles during "Stupid Girl," swiveling her hips during the saucy "Bad Boyfriend" and writhing on the floor during "Why Do You Love Me."
Manson played up her bad-girl vibe in Garbage's lyrics, from the come-hither opening of "Queer" ("Hey boy, take a look at me / Let me dirty up your mind") to the brash "Push It" ("I was angry when I met you / I think I'm angry still"). And when she refused to drink whiskey straight from the bottle, Manson punctuated her "I'm a lady!" assertion with some very unladylike language.
During the final encore, "Sex Is Not the Enemy," Manson pulled down the front of her dress to reveal a see-through bra. As if to disprove the song's title, three policemen promptly escorted Manson offstage and shouted, "That's it -- show's over, folks!" Perplexed fans stuck around long after this display in vain hopes that the band would return. Publicists later confirmed that the stunt had been staged for a Garbage video.
-- Catherine P. Lewis