Garbage Day, “Version 2.0” Version 2.0, Part 1.0 (Philadelphia)

Garbage celebrated the two-decade anniversary of Version 2.0 with the 20 Years Paranoid Tour, recycling old faves in new ways. At the Fillmore in Philly, MAGNET’s M.J. Fine (words) and Chris Sikich (photos) were happy to take in the trash.

Twelve seconds into Version 2.0, Shirley Manson shows her cards. “I’ll tell you something,” she purrs. “I am a wolf but/I like to wear sheeps’ clothing.”

And so it is that “Temptation Waits,” the first track on the Garbage’s second album, sets the tone for the rest of the experience. It’s all about the switch and bait. Think you’re getting a second album that’s merely an upgrade of the band’s first outing? Nope. When Version 2.0 came out in 1998, it was both noisier and more self-consciously poppy than Garbage’s 1995 self-titled debut, with more techno beats, more distorted guitars and brash lyrical nods to the Beach Boys, Pretenders and Salt-N-Pepa.

And so it is with “Temptation Waits,” the third song played each night on the 20 Years Paranoid Tour. Think you’re getting a live redo of a beloved record? Think again.

That much was clear from the setlist, which remained constant throughout the 39-date tour, with minor variations reserved for the encore. With a running order that completely disregarded the flow so familiar to listeners who’ve lived with Version 2.0 for two decades, the sonics were spot-on, from the pointed dialogue from films (including 2001: A Space Odyssey, Natural Born Killers and The Graduate) that played between songs to arrangements with snippets of other songs baked in. (“Wicked Ways” borrowed Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus” rather effectively; “You Look So Fine” paid proper homage to Fleetwood Mac with a bit of “Dreams.”)

Rather than simply re-create the record song-for-song with older musicians employing newer technology, Manson and the band—original members Butch Vig, Steve Marker and Duke Erikson, joined by ringer Eric Avery of Jane’s Addiction on bass—challenged themselves, delighted the diehards and shrugged off any fair-weather fans with a show that was as much about rewriting history as it was a well-earned attempt to cash in on Gen-X nostalgia.

At the Fillmore in Philadelphia, with just two more U.S. dates and a four-night run in Mexico left on the tour, hits like “I Think I’m Paranoid,” “Push It” and “Special” sounded appropriately massive, and deep cuts like “Dumb” and “Hammering In My Head” were explosive. Yet the band seemed most energized by songs that didn’t quite make the album, several of which had never been performed live before this year.

The eight b-sides scattered throughout the set proved that Garbage’s late-’90s castoffs have longer legs than chart-toppers by long-forgotten peers; two of them, “Afterglow” and “Deadwood,” got things off to a strong start even before “Temptation Waits” provided the first of many sing-along opportunities. The show’s one stumble was a reading of “The World Is Not Enough,” the band’s 1999 Bond theme, that felt listless and out of place.

Manson seemed almost giddy to give non-album tracks their due, introducing “Get Busy With The Fizzy” as “the weirdest song in our discography” (elaborating, she called it “a party song about getting off our tits, and it doesn’t get any deeper than that”), sharing the obvious observation that “Lick The Pavement” is about cunnilingus, and confiding that she didn’t come to understand Big Star’s “Thirteen” until years after recording it, but now believes it’s imperative to hold on to the wonder and innocence of that age your whole life.

While the main set played out with machine precision on paper, a function of the instrumentalists’ engineering backgrounds, Manson was charmingly loose-lipped between songs. Warning the audience early on that anyone who’d rather just hear the music without her commentary should just go home and put the record on instead, she kept it up all night, shedding light on the heavy subjects that pervade the album and repeatedly alluding to the U.S.’s current political situation. Reminiscing about her first time in Philadelphia, she recalled playing the “Theatre Of Arts” (mistake number one) with her previous band Angelfish on a bill with Live and Vic Chesnutt, eating a “Philly sub” (mistake number three) and nearly kissing Live’s guitar tech here (which would have been the biggest mistake of all).

But it was the encore that was most gloriously unscripted. Manson took a more direct swing at the White House, a move that felt earned after she spoke of the beginning of her lifelong admiration for America as a girl growing up in Edinburgh and her outsider status in an otherwise all-American band: “Fucking knock it off with the dictatorship here. You have something spectacular here and you are watching it be dismantled.” Erickson put it more simply: “I have one word: Vote.”

After a deeply moving performance of “The Trick Is to Keep Breathing,” which Manson called Version 2.0’s linchpin, the singer surprised her bandmates by quashing the one new song they’d been playing in favor of requests. After Marker rejected a plea from the crowd for “Parade,” from 2001’s Beautiful Garbage, Manson indulged the fan with an a cappella bit of it, and then the group debated among themselves whether they were prepared to play “Queer” for the first time in more than a year. Once Vig located the instantly recognizable sample, they pulled off a version that was as flawless as anything that had come before. Dedicating the last song, Beautiful Garbage’s “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go!)”—another genderqueer hit—the band pulled off the biggest switch of all: making a show without a single offering from the past 16 years sound absolutely of the moment, by the moment, and for the moment.

Rituals Of Mine

In what could have been a thankless warm-up slot, Rituals Of Mine cultivated a chilly mood of menace and magic out of spare synths, Adam Pierce’s laser-focused drums and singer Terra Lopez’s impressive lung power.

Rituals Of Mine

Johnny Take A Bow: The Smiths Guitar God Ends His North American Tour With A Night That Opened His Fans’ Eyes

Legendary Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr capped off his North American tour in support of new album Call The Comet at the TLA in MAGNET’s hometown of Philly. The guitar hero’s 16-song set included six Smiths cuts (“Bigmouth Strikes Again,” “The Headmaster Ritual,” “Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me,” “How Soon Is Now?,” “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out” and “You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby”), plus two Electronic tunes (“Getting Away With It” and “Get The Message”). MAGNET’s Chris Sikich was on hand to photograph this charming man. Read our classic Marr cover story:

Johnny Marr: This Charming Man

Babe, I’m On Fire: Nick Cave Sets Brooklyn’s Barclays Center Ablaze With The Bad Seeds’ Take on Arena Rock

Two-time MAGNET cover star Nick Cave and his very Bad Seeds just completed a brief, four-show North American tour, hitting—for the very first time in his four-decade career—arenas. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was there for Cave’s two-and-a-half hour, 19-song, career-spanning Brooklyn set at Barclays Center, and he let St. Nick’s love in.

In Philadelphia, Metallica Proves Once Again It’s Some Kind Of Live Monster

Metallica brought its WorldWired tour to MAGNET’s hometown of Philly, and it had a couple of Brotherly Love connections. The show was the last of the 50th birthday concerts by WMMR, a local classic-rock radio station instrumental in launching the career of the likes of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel. The band’s All Within My Hands Foundation donated $10,000 to Philabundance, an organization that helps feed Philadelphians in need. After comedian Jim Breuer warmed up the crowd, Metallica came out and played an 18-song, in-the-round set consisting of material dating all the way back to debut Kill Em All, which turned 35 this summer. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was there to ride the lightning and get these great shots.

Dirty Perry Rides Again: Dub/Reggae Pioneer Lee “Scratch” Perry Brings His “Blackboard Jungle” To Bushwick

82-year-young Lee “Scratch” Perry, backed by Subatomic Sound System, is celebrating the 45th anniversary of his classic, dub-pioneering Blackboard Jungle this year with a globetrotting tour. The OG/OD icon mesmerized the crowd at Brooklyn’s Elsewhere, playing the seminal album live in its entirety for the first time. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski came away with these great shots and an incurable case of jungle fever.

Live Review: Meshell Ndegeocello, Wilmington, DE, Oct. 21, 2018

Even in the dark, Meshell Ndegeocello can shine a brilliant light on her own songs as well as those of others. MAGNET’s M.J. Fine (words) and Chris Sikich (photos) feel the spirit magic

Even if you couldn’t see Meshell Ndegeocello—barely lit, clad in black and spending as much time as possible far from the front of the stage at The Queen—it would’ve been impossible to mistake her for anyone else. It’s not just her inimitable voice, by turns husky, sultry and matter-of-fact, or her funky, probing bass lines. A singular artist who moves freely between serving as a celebrity bassist for hire, composing audacious material herself and interpreting other songwriters’ work, Ndegeocello has a way of making everything she touches her own.

It’s the last of these three callings that brought her to Wilmington on a recent Sunday night. With several songs drawn from Ventriloquism, the album of expertly curated and exquisitely executed covers of ‘80s and ‘90s pop and R&B hits that she released earlier this year, and a few others drawn from her 2012 tribute to Nina Simone, Ndegeocello uncovered new facets of familiar songs. Stripping away the dance-floor flirtation, Lisa Lisa And Cult Jam’s “I Wonder If I Take You Home” gave way to calculations of regret, while Al B. Sure!’s slow jam “Nite And Day” became a meditation on obsession. Leonard Cohen’s “Suzanne” felt both gossamer and grounded, and George Clinton’s funk classic “Atomic Dog” presented a welcome excuse for Ndgeocello and her band to jam.

As often as the singer shunned even The Queen’s minimal lights to sidle over to drummer Abraham Rounds or turned her back on the crowd completely to commune with guitarist Chris Bruce, she addressed the room with genuine warmth whenever she spoke.

With so much of the set devoted to music that had inspired her in one way or another, Ndegeocello barely touched her own considerable body of work. Exceptions included an early-set pairing of “Wasted Time” and “Grace,” the last two tracks on 1999’s Bitter, which proved worthy of being bookended by “See-Line Woman” and “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood,” songs associated with the iconic Simone.

And by the time the show wrapped up with a thoughtful rendition of TLC’s “Waterfalls,” it truly ceased to matter which numbers have been canonized and which are considered guilty pleasures. Ndegeocello and her band brought out the magic in each one, ignoring artificial genre boundaries and underscoring their tender edges, their vulnerable core, their common humanity. In the dark, all songs were holy.

Leaving A Trace: CHVRCHES And Lo Moon Electrify The City Of Brotherly Love

CHVRCHES has been on tour pretty much non-stop since the May 25 release of third album Love Is Dead (Glassnote). But if the Scottish trio—Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty—is worn down from such a grueling schedule, they showed absolutely no sign of it at their stop in Philadelphia, playing a ferocious 18-song set at the Franklin Music Hall (known until the day before CHVRCHES’ show as the Electric Factory).

L.A.-based Lo Moon, whose self-titled debut came out earlier this year via Columbia, opened the show with a seven-song set capped off by the epic “Loveless.”

MAGNET photographer Chris Sikich was there, and he was feeling nothing but (album and song titles to the contrary) love.

All In The Family: Mom + Pop Music Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary With Courtney Barnett, Sleigh Bells, Tom Morello, Neon Indian And More

Given the résumés of the three founders of Mom + Pop Music (managing the likes of Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers and Muse, signing Rage Against The Machine, Buckcherry and Against Me!, to name only a few), it’s not surprising what the NYC-based indie label has accomplished in just 10 years. But navigating the intersection of art and commerce is extremely difficult for any upstart, and Mom + Pop has seemingly done it very well, releasing records by Courtney Barnett, Sleigh Bells, Tom Morello, Neon Indian and more. Those four artists, plus Alice Merton and Sunflower Bean, joined forces at Brooklyn Steel to celebrate the label’s decade anniversary, and MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was there to document this family reunion.

Live Review: Tank And The Bangas, Naughty Professor, Big Freedia, Philadelphia, Oct. 20, 2018

Tank And The Bangas, Tank And The Bangas, Naughty Professor and Big Freedia brought New Orleans to Philly, and MAGNET’s M.J. Fine (words) and Chris Sikich (photos) climbed aboard the panda express

By the time the two pandas took the stage on a Saturday night in Philadelphia to herald the imminent appearance of Tank And The Bangas, the vibe at the TLA felt a lot more like a party than a concert. Maybe more like a Wednesday-night party by New Orleans standards (you’d have to ask the performers about that), but for Philadelphians in the crowd, Saturday night felt like we’ve always heard Saturday night should feel—the part just before the weekend’s joyful abandon gives way to morning-after ruminations and the Sunday-morning reckoning that seems to come so naturally to musicians who come from a city that celebrates lasciviousness and piety with equal fervor.

With an audience primed by Naughty Professor’s jazz-funk instrumentals and Big Freedia’s heated bounce set, which featured slick dance moves from the three pros accompanying her on tour and mass twerking from enthusiastic volunteers, the pandas were a momentary curiosity—what do pandas have to do with the Big Easy? But once they removed their heads and revealed themselves as backing singers in Tarriona “Tank” Ball’s nine-piece band, all made sense.

And then Ball opened her mouth, and it was all about the sound, that rich mix of soul, rock ‘n’ roll, funk, hip hop and poetry that Tank And The Bangas play with such exuberance. Ball shifts from one mode to another so fast you can’t see it coming, totally transforming her voice from one verse to the next, from speedy and silly to slow and sad, from bruised to blissed out. It’s not a party trick, but it’s all the reason you need to show up to the party.

Naughty Professor
Big Freedia

Big Thief Steals The Hearts Of Brooklynites With A Sold-Out Hometown Show

Sure the two criminal masterminds in Big Thief released solo albums this year (Adrianne Lenker’s abysskiss this month, Buck Meek’s self-titled debut in May) and have live dates lined up shortly, but this band of Brooklyn bandits just kicked off a short East Coast tour with a hometown show at Brooklyn Steal, er, Steel. MAGNET photographer Wes Orshoski was part of the capacity crowd witnessing this masterpiece of a set, taking these awesome images.