There were no lines outside the venue and fans seemed to be pouring in at a steady rate. The venue seemed to be about half full for opener Torres and fans continued to fill the venue anxiously awaiting alt-rock band Garbage’s 20 Years Queer Tour. Moving around inside the Phoenix Concert Theatre was nearly impossible as fans were in a frenzy to take a nostalgic trip back to 1995/96 with the band. The crowd ranged from those who have been Garbage fans since their start 20 years ago and fans who have started listening to Garbage later but who were nonetheless enthusiastic to see the alt- rock veterans.
Prior to gracing the stage, a pink boa was draped across the mic stand, symbolizing the pink feathers that cover the band 20th anniversary album cover. The energy in the room was electric when the band members took the stage to the sold out crowd. Fans cheered and screamed as singer Shirley Manson took the stage last with a bob of pink hair. It was evident that pink and nostalgia were themes of the show. After diving into “Subhuman”, “Supervixen” and “Queer,” Manson announced that they would only be playing songs from 1995 and 1996, a vow that was briefly blown during the encore.
“Toronto, you magnificent beasts!” Manson said greeting the crowd. Musicians have never been quiet in regards to their love for Toronto and Garbage was no exception. The band tweeted earlier that day “I could live in Toronto. Love this city”. Manson then reminisced about the last time she played the venue, which was nearly 20 years ago in 1996. This was fitting since the band had set a goal to bring the crowd back to that time.
Manson, nearly 50, looked and behaved no different than you would have expected her to if you were at the venue for their ’96 tour. Packed with passion and performance, the band drove the crowd crazy. Fans sang along to hits such as “Queer”, “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains” as well as numerous B-side tracks from their debut album Garbage. Manson noted that although the crowd was very enthusiastic, she wasn’t going to reward them by playing any less B-sides. Fans sang just as loud to the B-side tracks as they did to the singles, seemingly knowing all the words.
The idea for a 20th anniversary tour was sparked while the band was working on their new album, which Manson assured, is 90% complete. Initially the band wanted to play a “few” shows to celebrate although the tour consists of 26 dates from North America to Europe.
For the encore Garbage played four songs, “Kick My Ass” (a Vic Chesnutt cover), “Trip My Wire”, “Automatic Systematic Habit” (first time played on this tour) and “Push It”.
During the encore Manson thanked Steve Marker for contacting her after seeing her video “Suffocate Me” with previous band Angelfish on MTV over two decades go. Contacting her resulted in her later auditioning for Garbage.
“Push It” closed the show, sparking much enthusiasm from the crowd; singing and dancing along to the song. The majority of the encore songs don’t originate from 95/96 as the rest of the setlist did, treating fans to some later hits. Noticeably missing from the Toronto show setlist, but present on the majority of the other 20 Years Queer Tour setlists was hit “I Think I’m Paranoid”.
After finishing “Push It,” guitar picks flew off the stage into the hands of jumping fans, no one rushed to leave, holding out hope for a second encore which was soon defeated with lights and stereo music that boomed over the speakers. If there was one thing to take from the 20 years Queer Tour, it’s that if any band is capable of taking you back for a mid-nineties grunge jam session- it’s Garbage.