Rock Thought for the Day: Garbage

At the risk of further poaching on John Durant's turf, it turns out I have another Rock Thought of the Day® to share:

Garbage's new CD, Bleed Like Me, is out today. At first listen, you'd never know the band's been gone for the past five years. It sounds much like business as usual. And that may be part of the problem: four CD's in, I had hoped to hear the band move beyond the territory they staked out with their first three efforts. This time around, they've gone for a rougher sound: the guitars are louder, the song hooks buried, and Shirley Manson's vocals filtered in many places until they sound like she's singing through a drive-thru window speaker. But for all the surface changes, the music doesn't really incorporate any new influences, present any new ideas, or ever take any unexpected turns. (As much as I like the title track, it takes you about a verse and a half to realize they're doing an intentional riff on Lou Reed's Walk on the Wild Side.) Granted, I've listened to the CD a grand total of two times, so I reserve the right to change my opinion. But at first blush, there's not much here to reach beyond the die-hard Garbage fan.

Money For Nothing

I was actually supposed to see Garbage last Friday here in Seattle, at the opening show of their American tour. I was jazzed, to say the least: I've seen them twice before, and thoroughly enjoyed both shows. Add to that the fact that we'd be hearing their new material before the CD was even released, and I was looking forward to a special night.

Unfortunately, the band, fresh from a European promotional tour, got sick and had to cancel at the last minute.

Which is understandable; it happens. And at forty dollars a ticket, you don't really want to see a sick band limp through a show, do you?

What's not so understandable, is the fact that no one knew anything about whether the show was cancelled, postponed, or happening the next night. We were originally told by the Paramount staff that the show might be moved to Saturday night, and to call TicketMaster or listen to The End, which promoted the show. Except TicketMaster refused to confirm or deny anything. And the DJ on The End couldn't find out any information either, even though he'd been inundated with calls from people like us all day Saturday. (The Paramount ticket office is open bankers' hours during the week, so no help there.)

Finally, late Sunday, TicketMaster sent out an email saying the show was cancelled and that you could return your tickets for a refund—minus 3.35 USD per ticket, which TicketMaster decided it was keeping.

Now, it's bad enough that TicketMaster's "service fees" amounted to a 28% tax on the tickets to begin with (30.50 USD per ticket, plus 8.50 USD per ticket service fees). But to keep 3.35 USD per head for a show that didn't even happen? When did that become acceptable? The Paramount has 2807 seats; so, for the sold-out Garbage show, TicketMaster pocketed 9403.45 USD—nearly ten grand from Garbage fans who got exactly nothing in return.

For my little party of 4, we ended up donating 13 USD to TicketMaster—just about the cost of a new Garbage CD.