Garbage returns home and the Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne dazzles.
Setlist for Garbage: (see thumbnail below in Gallery)
Persevering through very untimely and sporadic rain showers (it began raining 5 seconds before Garbage’s set and 10 seconds before the Flaming Lips went on) both Garbage and the Flaming Lips made the best of the appropriately named inaugural Pondamonium Fest in the middle of a baseball field in Madison, WI – the quasi-hometown of Garbage. Admittedly, Shirley Manson has about as much Madison blood in her veins as I do Portuguese but her sincere adoration for the location, being the hometown of several members of Team Garbage was apparent and true to form for the increasingly interesting lead member of the most famous, and best, power pop band of the last 18 years.
The Dum Dum Girls provided the ultimate alter-ego from the glam pop onslaught that was to follow. Dressed in a mix of sexy goth (and with at least one stunning looking guitar) the Dum Dum Girls delivered their garage band style rock with quick precision. Never to be interpreted as a pop band the Dum Dum Girls played from their still limited catalog. Only occassionally moving around on the stage (at the end of their set) lead singer Dee Dee made a note that her first ever concert was a Garbage show back in their heyday. That aged nearly everyone in the crowd by a couple years. Understandably nervous with Wayne Coyne standing a mere 3 feet off the side of the stage they performed briskly as the darkening clouds rolled in. But this venue isn’t the ideal portal for a group like the Dum Dum Girls. These girls are a dark nightclub kind of group – where their look can marry up better with their sound versus playing chords in front of a couple thousand inebriated festival folk who plan to dance and see Wayne Coyne roll into more needed group therapy. The Dum Dum Girls are very good but this just isn’t their ideal platform for delivering what they do best. I saw them last year in the ultra-dark (and when I say dark I’m telling you that light does not escape this place) Empty Bottle in Chicago and it was perfection.
When Garbage burst onto the scene in the post-grunge era of the mid-90’s Shirley Manson was immediately compared with Gwen Stefani and No Doubt. At the time the comparisons were obvious; beautiful, powerful, attractive lead women with precision rock/pop songs thumping the charts. But Garbage has emerged as the clear winner as history winds past that time. Where Stefani has emerged with a solid reputation it’s Manson that shines even brighter. Comparing the history of Garbage to No Doubt in 2012 is relevant for all of 3 seconds. Regardless of the fact that Garbage’s catalog is stronger, Garbage comes equipped with the ultimate secret weapons of 1990’s and that would be a man named Butch Fucking Vig. No single man influenced rock, grunge, or pop in the early-mid 90’s than this man and studio wizadry he could produce with Cobain, Billy Corgan and Shirley Manson. A sophomore-level study in psychiatry shows tremendous similarities to Cobain, Corgan and Mason. All 3 troubled in their own ways but the four of them (including Vig) having enough talent to produce great music to encompass an entire a decade. Imagine music in the 1990’s without any of those four and you’re filling a void that even the later emergence of Radiohead couldn’t fill. As Vig and Manson hit the stage on this Thursday night in Madison it’s a worthy scratch of one’s head if this will ever happen again. It was a curtain call of sorts for a duo that helped set the backbone of power pop over 5 albums and 18 years – and a perfect introduction to the visual insanity that remains Wayne Coyne. The Flaming Lips are the Harlem Globetrotters of the music world and they’re a festival simply by themselves. As Pondamonium gets bigger each year moving forward they will be hard-pressed to find a better closing act than the Lips – padded trucks included.