Live: The Night Shirley and the Boys Rocked the House of Blues
HOUSE OF BLUES — 10/9/12: “I know it seems as if we’ve been sitting on the couch eating Twinkies for the past seven years, Houston,” a bittersweet Shirley Manson exclaimed to her faithful fans. If you wanted to see the ball-busting, heart-throbbing, and hair-raising Garbage that you had known from the ’90s, chances are you were at the House of Blues a week ago.
As it had been seven years since they had given these folks a Houston show, I was not the least bit surprised when I was informed that they had sold the venue out. Walking through a sea of heads, I frantically made my way upstairs to obtain my photo pass.
The openers were a band called Screaming Females from New Brunswick, NJ. I had gotten a feel for this band prior to the show, and was ready to see what these cats were capable of. The lights dimmed and out walked these three unfamiliar-to-Houston faces.
The first person to catch my eye was lead frontwoman Marissa Paternoster. Coming in at just a mere 4-foot-something, it was apparent that Marissa wasn’t going to let her height fool you. She came to do what she does best: scream people’s faces off while melting the rest of you with a solo. These guys definitely turned a few heads with their tight jams and raw energy, and it warmed my heart to see a small garage rock band from Jersey be playing the big show. Houston was definitely in for a treat this night.
As far as this band’s sound, I think bassist King Mike said it best when he stated in an interview to ABCNews that the band had decided they’d never get trapped into one genre. It was true — from one song to the next, you never knew what to expect. All in all these guys are definitely worth the listen. Search through your couches for a couple extra bucks and pick up these guys’ CD or LP.
Next up, Garbage! I always get that euphoric feeling coursing through my veins as I await yet another rock show I’m privileged enough to shoot. One can’t really describe the feeling of being 20 years old and being inches away from a band who defined a whole genre or generation of music.
On one end, you’ve got Butch Vig, a man who has produced everything from Nirvana’s Nevermind album all the way to the latest Foo Fighters’ Wasting Light. Needless to say, the man has my respect. Then you have Shirley Manson, a lady that could skin you in a second but you’d be too lost in her eyes to notice anything was happening.
The lights went out, the intro music cued in, and this is the part where I began to wet my trousers. I thought the crowd was pretty rowdy when Butch, Steve Marker, Duke Erikson, and guest bassist Eric Avery took the stage…but when Shirley arrived, myself and the rest of Houston lost our shit.
I couldn’t help but throw up my rock horns through every shot I took of the band. I didn’t know whether any of this was happening, or I was just having another one of those nostalgic dreams where I was next to Garbage again. I thought to myself, “I will never be happier than this moment right now.” Garbage loves their fans, and their fans love them!
These guys are the true essence of showmanship. Pure class and pure talent were spread upon that stage. Shirley made sure each and every fan got their money’s worth that night. Through songs like “I’m Only Happy When it Rains” and “Stupid Girl,” Garbage proved to all of Houston that in that seven-year hiatus, they haven’t skipped a beat.
Shirley sounded just as good as she did 17 years ago, on their self-titled album. I wanted so badly to reach up and shake her hand in gratitude, but I feared my own hand might melt away from touching that much awesomeness.
From a photographer’s standpoint, I can truly say this has been one of my favorite shows to shoot. I don’t know whether it was the essence of that crowd, or Duke Erikson trying to get in all my shots, but either way, I had a fantastic night shared with some great fans and photographers. The fatal ending of the third song had arrived, and it seemed my time was up. I took one last breath of Shirley and the Houston crowd, and enjoyed the rest of the show from the side.
Sometimes you just have to put yourself in situations where you have no expectations, and you end up finding so much out about yourself — like your love for Garbage and the people of Houston. I can’t express the true love and energy that is shared at a Garbage show; you’ll just have to find out for yourselves. Take it from a guy whose dreamed it, lived it, and loved it. END
(Photos [top to bottom]: Marissa Paternoster, Screaming Females; Shirley Manson, Garbage; Eric Avery & Duke Erikson, Garbage. All photos by Max Mueller.)