“What’s the band you said you liked, ‘Trash’?”
“It’s Garbage.” (we both laugh)
“Garbage! Oh, that’s right. I knew it was something like that.”
Twas a super cute exchange between myself and my friend’s mom last summer just a couple of months before she passed away. I told her the story months earlier about the first concert I saw all by myself when I was a teen. She enjoyed the tale, so I figured it’s share-worthy here too.
The band: Garbage. The night: November 10, 1995. The location: The Opera House, in Toronto. It was their first Toronto gig and their 5th show ever. It was raining, and yes, I was happy. I knew of no one at my lame school at the time who even knew who they were and I didn’t want that to stop me from seeing this new band I had quickly come to love. So, I did something quite outside of my shy comfort zone, and bought a single ticket… For a show at a dingy club… In a sketchy part of Toronto… Far from our quiet street in uber boring suburbia. My dad was cool and drove me down there.
However, when we pulled up to the club, I froze.
I saw people going in. People older than me. Cooler than me. Somehow they had found other people who liked Garbage too. Or, maybe they hadn’t and they were just dragging a hapless friend along. Either way, it was all intimidating to my young teen self who had only been to a few club shows before this and always with people. I froze. I saw the tour bus sitting on the side street and watched Steve Marker get out for a moment. I excitedly grabbed my dad’s arm, “Look! It’s one of them!” He told me to go say hi… I didn’t. Time ticked. More people piled in. I just couldn’t do it. In an attempt to pull some classic parental reverse psychology on me, my dad offered to turn around and drive back home. I said no.
Still, I froze.
Finally my dad said the most obvious thing: “You’ll regret this so much if you don’t go in there – Get out of the car!” He basically kicked me out of the car at that point. I walked across the street, nervous as hell, handed the guy at the door my ticket and went in. The moment I got in there, I realized no one gave a crap that I was there alone. They were either chatting with each other, or staring at the empty stage, waiting for the band to go on. I remember noticing a lot of older people there that night. Garbage hadn’t really caught on yet with the younger crowd. They were still being marketed as a band featuring Butch Vig, that genius guy who produced Nirvana’s Nevermind album. No one had heard of Shirley yet. I was surprised how easy it was to walk right up to the front. There was a small crowd waiting right at the stage… Everyone else were at tables or the bar. It would be, without question, the most casual Garbage show I’ve ever been to. Once the band hit the stage, everything I worried about in that car disappeared completely. I absolutely loved it. My dad was right: I would’ve regretted this forever. It was an amazingly fun night that shaped how I’d do fun things like this for pretty much the rest of my life.
I’ve seen numerous music and comedy shows alone since. I’ve traveled alone. I find it freeing; not limiting at all. Have I done all those things with others too? Of course. In the end it’s always more fun to see and do things with like-minded people. But to drag someone who doesn’t want to be there along, just because you want to go… Or to miss it altogether because you couldn’t find anyone? I haven’t been that person since that rainy night in 1995. Thanks Dad… and thank you, Garbage! Please keep making music and doing your thing.
(Below: Garbage’s video for their new single, “Empty” off their next album, “Strange Little Birds” out June 10th)