A Saturday Night In Paris

With my favorite band

Last night was the Garbage show. It was their best show of the half dozen or so I’ve gone to. It was my favorite show – Frank in Orlando notwithstanding, but that something else entirely.

First time I saw Garbage was the last show of the 2.0 tour. It was, til last night, my favorite show. Shirley was young and hot and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. But her broken bits were also very much also on display. She was insecure and she tried to hide behind a false bravado. There was a moment seared into my memory where she compared to Christina Aguilera. She didn’t shit on xtina, but she definitely was fishing for reassurances from the audience that she was sexier and more badass. Of course, the audience responded – I mean, were a college basketball arena full of young people who either wanted to be her or be with her for fuck sake. But there was a sadness to it. This was a young woman – in my barely mature mind – who was so much more than a singer. She was rough around the edges, full of so many of my same broken bits. That’s why I loved her. That’s why we all did. She made us feel less alone. She helped us hate ourselves just a little less for at least a few moments. Her bravado was our mask too.

Last night, in Paris, all of that was gone. She was a survivor, a fighter, a fierce, full-grown woman in her prime. Gone was the “you like me, right?” insecurity. There was only a woman owning her space, trusting that her light was enough because it really fucking was. There was a moment last night when an audience member chucked a beer at her mid-song. She was fucking annoyed and, aside from a “you fucked up” and middle finger at the offending party, she kept right on singing. I was standing next to a security member who ran towards the offender sure that he was gonna toss the fucker out. Shirley got to the end of the song, took a beat, and instead of pointing out the beer tosser to security, offered grace instead. The grace that comes with age, with remembering “I was young and stupid once, too.” I don’t remember her exact words, but it was along the lines of, “I was going to have you tossed, but as I sang I gathered myself and decided to trust that your intention wasn’t malicious, you were just excited and decided to, stupidly, express it by throwing your beer up here on the stage where now my husband has to clean it up.” There was a sweet moment with her husband who did in fact clean up someone else’s mess and then the show went on.

My hero had grown up into this fierce, compassionate badass. Gone were the superficial comparisons to pop stars. Gone was the false bravado. Here was this fully formed human being who gave us magic.

There was another part of the show, before or after the beer incident – it’s all a blur – where they did The Trick Is To Keep Breathing and Bleed Like Me. I made sure to face away from my wife because I didn’t want her to see the tears in my eyes. Not a lot of tears, but enough that I know she would bust my balls later. The broken bits of me that once hurt were now scarred over and sometimes I rub them and remember how I got those scars. Those songs were part of the soundtrack in my battles along the way.

Last night’s show was a culmination of a lifetime of growing into the person Shirley was destined to become. It was a reminder that artists create these gifts – words we cannot find on our own to guide us through some of the valleys of life. She shined. They all did; Butch, Steve, Duke, and even Ginger.

Postscript, one day I want to be as fucking cool as Duke.

Post-postscript, the opener was a Scottish band called Lucia and the Best Boys. My wife and I were all in from their first song. You should absolutely check them out.

©2024 Rudy Martinez