A hot, sticky, summer night was about to get a lot hotter (but hopefully not stickier). Tonight, we would be treated to the fresh new project, Kristin Kontrol, as well as veteran rockers, Garbage, marking a triumphant return to Kansas City in support of their new album “Strange Little Birds”
Tonight’s show would be a little different than the usual fare at the Uptown. Instead of a large, open expanse that would normally be the pit were rows and rows of white folding chairs. This almost gave a wedding like vibe to the venue. To me, this didn’t seem like a show that would play out well with a seated crowd, but that’s just my two cents.
Our intrepid opening band was Kristin Kontrol. Kristin Kontrol is a new project formed earlier this year by Kristin Welchez of the rock band Dum Dum Girls. As the house lights dropped and the Kristin and her black-clad backing members took the stage. Any tension in the room was broken by Kristin Kontrol’s bass filled introduction and Kristin’s smoky, piercing vocals. Kristin has a choppy, sexy, and robotic like stage presence. She has the vocal range and attitude of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s. In addition to the vocals, the drummer was super busy, switching between mallets, sticks, and some maraca looking thing. The bass player switched between that and keyboards, and the guitarist stood like a silent guardian to this synthed out pop-rock. We may have all been seated, but like they say in the monster truck world “You’ll pay for the whole seat, but you’ll only need the EDGE!” Watch out for Kristin Kontrol here in the future, as I predict they’ll blow up. Again, I’m going to gripe a little about the seating situation: this band would have been an absolute blast had the pit been opened up – I would have danced my already nonexistent ass off to this group.
If Kristin Kontrol is the torch-bearer of taking pop into the light, then Garbage are the veterans of dragging pop screaming into the dark.
Fog filled the Uptown Theater and again, the lights went down. Jeriney, from 96.5 the Buzz, introduced the band, and for a few additional moments, the crowd was tense in anticipation for Garbage. Suddenly, strobe lights, 3 darkly dressed men, then finally, Shirley Manson. Opening up with “Sometimes” from their latest album “Strange Little Birds” The opening song saw the band illuminated only by strobes and fog, but by the second song “I Think I’m Paranoid”, we get full view of the band – to the delight of a cheering crowd.
The hits kept coming with “Stupid Girl” and “Special” and the crowd was absolutely going crazy. At one point, I swear I saw someone toss a bouquet of flowers on stage – I thought that only happened in the movies.
Shriley Manson was flanked by Steve Marker on guitar, Duke Erikson on bass (both switched between playing keyboards) and fill in drummer Matt Walker (who has previous played for such bands as Filter, The Smashing Pumpkins, and Morrisey) Original drummer and producer Butch Vig was out due to an infection, although Shirley sent us his warm regards, and Matt was a hell of a fill in.
In between a few of the songs, Shirley nervously talked to the crowd – technical issues with the audio controllers gave her inconsistent starting times – at one point, she even had a Gordon Ramsey like moment, yelling back at the stage wanting an explanation of the issues. But technical issues aside, it didn’t much detract from the show, and her banter gave this rock goddess a more personable feel.
Garbage continued rocking (and talking, through more tech issues) with songs like “Sex Is Not The Enemy” During this set, Shirley donned a rainbow boa and dedicated the song to the LGBT community. Stating that they aren’t a political band, but sometimes they show their politics through music, even if it’s “politics with a small p”
The song “Blackout” took us towards a darker place – Shirley said that they originally intended for the song to be featured on the end credits of some vampire movie, but they liked it too much. The inspiration was older Goth bands of the 80’s
The set continued with fan favorites like “Automatic Systematic Habit”, “Bleed Like Me” and “Only Happy When it Rains’ until concluding with “Cherry Lips (Go Baby Go)” The stage went dark, the band members departed, and the house lights came up – but come on! This is rock! You know that wasn’t the end of the show
The band was back with an encore performance of “Supervixen”, “#1 Crush” then finally rounding out the night with “Why Do You Love Me”
All things said, both Garbage and Kristin Kontrol put on a hell of a show. Again, I would have loved to see the band in a less restrictive settings (i.e. get rid of like half the seats) but even with the technical gremlins of the uptown, the bands had plenty of energy and great music to cancel out the negative stuff.
Check out the upcoming shows here: https://garbage.com/tour/
Words by Dallas Hessel
Photos by Josh Chaikin