Suddenly reminded of Garbage

20:04, Nov 27 2011

So I voted in the weekend. I haven't always voted - I mean since I was of age to vote. At one point I was fairly convinced that exercising your democratic right to vote also meant you were within your rights to not vote; that not voting was in fact a vote of no-confidence, in any of the parties - in the fact that your vote wasn't going to be heard - in the system, man!

Anyway, that was then. I'm back voting now. Have been for a while. So, I voted on Saturday. And it was the first time I'd voted at the voting booth on the day since the very first time I was eligible to vote. Other years I'd cast my vote early - due to work (often playing gigs) or because of travel (sometimes also due to gigs). Or, as I said, I hadn't voted.

I can remember playing a gig up the coast one year - the time that many National supporters were sure Don Brash was going to give it a good nudge. And of course he did. But he didn't make it over the line.

We were playing in a club - urged to play on as all around us the TV sets showed rolling updates. We were, at one point, drowned out by a surge of volume - the bar-staff turning up all the TVs and the punters cheering. We had at first thought we'd played a great tune. It was painfully clear, very swiftly, that the election results were more interesting than us, the band.

Anyway, this year, walking down the road early Saturday morning to vote I thought - suddenly - about when I saw the band Garbage live. Remember them? It was a double bill in fact - Garbage and Ash. Now the reason I thought about this -  right at that moment - was because the gig was on the night of the election that very first year I voted. Over 15 years ago...

Funny how such thoughts come back to you...


I remember the gig because it was probably the first international ("big name") show I was underwhelmed by. I wasn't the biggest fan of the band Ash but I had made an effort to check out their first official release, 1977, in order to enjoy (or try to enjoy) their set.

The drummer may have been having an off-night - but I remember (vividly) the messed-up fills and lack of cohesion in his playing - and from there, naturally, in the band's playing as a unit. It was the first time I had noticed mistakes from an established (or semi-established) international act.

Garbage was huge at the time - due to their self-titled debut and the hook of the band being a bunch of producers and a no-name singer; plucked from obscurity, Shirley Manson was, overnight (and with some reluctance) a star. And the band had a stack of big singles from that first album.

It was okay seeing them - they were better (for me) than Ash (in terms of mistakes/cohesion) but it was really unmemorable. Funny that the band seemed like a big deal at the time and just flaked away to nothing.

There was a second album (Version 2.0) - with a couple more hits and then, really, the world stopped caring. I mean, sure, there were two more albums - but that, ultimately, was it (*).

I doubt I'll listen to the band Garbage ever again - despite their one-time popularity. I see there has been a re-formation and apparently there will be a new album next year. This is surely proof that Butch Vig and cronies have nothing left to do/are desperate for another slice of pie/another chance at adoration.

I'm not embarrassed I attended a Garbage gig - it was of its time; it was good to be in the moment, to head along and see a big-name pop-rock band at its peak. But in a way I am slightly baffled by it. I would never, as a paying customer, head along to see a band like this now. Very unlikely anyway. But all grist for the mill of course.

So this weekend, when out of nowhere I recalled seeing a band that went on to live up to its name, I wondered if I was the only one almost agog at this bizarre memory. I wondered if there were others that had a similar story - a tale of seeing a band, being a fan at the time, then finding the group instantly forgettable. Maybe even reading this post is triggering a memory for you - being asked this question. So, that's it actually; that is the question: what artist did you go and see live that you would never return to for another round; that leaves you almost baffled that you did actually attend a show?

(*) Unless of course you believe the not entirely implausible story that the band Garbage moved to New Zealand, hired a Runga sister and changed its name to Stellar* - there's a clue in the asterisk. It leads to a footnote about the band's name. It says in very small print "this band used to be/is Garbage/garbage".

Postscript: To tie it back to attending gigs after voting that feature average drummers - and I can only figure that some people up the coast a few years ago can share their stories about me - this time, after voting, I attended a gig where the drummer was terrible in a different way. The Moody Blues. I'd seen them before and forgotten how weird/sad this is. Original drummer Graeme Edge spends the gig playing along on a kit at half-speed, adding absolutely nothing. A talented session player covers for him and propels the groove for the group. Edge is all but miming; the Milli (or) Vanilli of drumming. At one point Edge stood and made it look as if he was doing an impressive fill across the toms. The lights were dropped on the "real" drummer so that to cloth-eared morons it might have appeared as if Edge did in fact have the edge. Horrific. Insulting. Baffling. But, given I did not pay for my ticket - hilarious, in a sad/weird way.

My review of The Moody Blues gig is in today's Dominion Post newspaper.