Review, photos: Garbage, Shirley Manson stay feisty at The Masonic


Photos: Nick DeCicco

SAN FRANCISCO — If anyone thought time might soften Shirley Manson, think again. Manson’s stubborn, no-holds-barred, feminist views were on full display during Garbage’s two-hour Saturday at The Masonic.

“Up yours, Donald Trump!” she shouted as a prelude to “Sex Is Not the Enemy.”

That sounds on point for someone who once played a Terminator. Earlier, when encouraging women not to take their clothes off merely for attention but to be good people instead, she added an addendum:

“You must absolutely enjoy your body and you must absolutely seek your orgasm,” she said.

Later, to close the night, the Wisconsin rock group unearthed “Androgyny,” the rarely played lead single from its 2001 LP Beautifulgarbage. Although 15 years old, its chorus reads like a comment on gender politics circa 2016, especially North Carolina’s controversial HB2 law: “Boys in the girls room / Girls in the men’s room / You free your mind in your androgyny.”

Manson and company balanced the modern with a trip throughout its career. She said Garbage owed it to the crowd because it skipped the Bay Area on its 20th anniversary tour last year.

“We have now been a band for 21 years, which literally seems so — to say it seems surreal and Dadaist,” she said.

The show opened with “Subhuman,” a deep cut from the group’s earliest days. Keeping one foot in the modern day, nearly one-third of Saturday’s set was peppered with songs from June’s Strange Little Birds. It’s songs are dark and brooding, as a track with the name “Even Though Our Love Is Doomed” would suggest.

Among the Birds material was “Blackout,” a bold performance that used sparse lighting to heighten the drama.

The main set ended with a blistering burst of some of Garbage’s most celebrated cuts: “Vow,” “Only Happy When it Rains” and “Push It” brought a triumphant end to the main set.

But there was sweetness, too. Manson told the crowd, which she repeatedly, lovingly referred to as weirdos, “You bring us immeasurable joy.” On “Push It,” she leaned on guitarist Duke Erikson as she sang the first verse.

Now in its third decade as a band, Manson said she’s appreciates the long-time fans as well as the new faces in the crowd.

“I’m thrilled to see so many beautiful young women here,” she said. “It makes me feel like I’ve done something good in this life.”

The show was Garbage’s last until a gig next month at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles.

Follow Nick DeCicco at and

I Think I’m Paranoid
Stupid Girl
Automatic Systematic Habit
Blood for Poppies
Sex Is Not the Enemy
#1 Crush
Even Though Our Love Is Doomed
Why Do You Love Me?
Night Drive Loneliness
Bleed Like Me
Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)
Only Happy When it Rains
Push It

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