Garbage played The Orpheum – 10/21


Every concert shoot is challenging in one way or another, but there are some that really do try one’s patience to an abnormal degree. The Boston date on Garbage’s “20 Years Queer” tour – celebrating the 20th anniversary of their debut record – was one such instance, but also a valuable reminder that making due with circumstances you’re not thrilled about comes with the territory.  

Shifting timing rules, arbitrary distance restrictions, harsh violet LEDs, a frequent lack of front lighting, being cut off from shooting an entire song early – you name it, they threw it at us that night. The band sounded great – due in part, no doubt, to the presence of famed producer and drummer/founding member Butch Vig – but the barrage of limitations wasn’t doing them any favors visually. Shows like this not only remind one that learning (very quickly) to deal with crazy rules is important in the field, but also that being prepared for the worst is a good strategy. When a stage-edge shoot turns into a soundboard situation 30 seconds before the band goes on, a relatively inexpensive teleconverter that lengthens the reach of the lens you’d actually prepared to bring can work wonders toward saving the whole shoot, as it did here.

I must say that I’d love another opportunity to shoot Garbage under more normal conditions. Lead singer Shirley Manson was a dynamic and engaging bandleader who would no doubt be fun to shoot up close, and I didn’t pull off a single well-lit frame of Vig. I rarely say this, but here’s to hoping they stop by the House of Blues next time.

Opener Torres, aka singer/songwriter Mackenzie Scott, is worthy of mention here as well. She brought the songs from her sophomore full-length Sprinter to life with intense, visceral performances, resonating confidently throughout the cavernous Orpheum. I’ve covered Scott headlining Great Scott earlier this year (which she’ll do again on January 22nd) and a number of times as an opener at other shows, and I’ve never seen her play a set that was anything less than stunning. Highly recommended.

Photos from both sets, such as they are in Garbage’s case, below.

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