On July 9th under a full moon, the Hollywood Bowl radiated with the new wave, industrial sounds of the Blondie and Garbage co-headlined Rage and Rapture tour. A night of female empowerment through the lens of guitar riffs and disco synths.
Kicking off the night was the stellar opening performance by one of my favorite indie artists slash favorite artists of all time, Sky Ferreira. Even under the weather, Ferreira sang laps around many artists of her caliber. She opened with “24 Hours,” an 80’s sounding synth pop ballad off of her debut studio album, You’re Not the One.
Ferreira also covered “Voices Carry,” a song by Aimee Mann’s old new wave band, ‘Til Tuesday. The song only added to the night’s theme of killer female artists. Ferreira was brought on to open for this night of the tour by Debbie Harry and Chris Stein of Blondie, who are huge fans of her work and advocates of working with new artists. (Additionally, one of Ferreira’s first singles, “Red Lips,” was actually co-written by Garbage’s Shirley Manson.)
This is something I love about Blondie — their collaboration with both younger artists and artists that may not necessarily be inside of their genre. Although in the case of this concert, co-headliner Garbage and opener Sky Ferreira definitely fit into the same genus of badass rock sirens.
After the very sick but still showstopper Ferreira, Garbage, the 90’s industrial rock band played an incredible set, enticing the eager crowd sang along to hits like “Only Happy When It Rains” and “Stupid Girl.”
Before the band performed “Special,” lead singer Shirley Manson told an awesome anecdote about how when The Pretenders’ label refused to release the sample used in the song, she wrote to Chrissie Hynde and Hynde herself gave the group permission to use it. Another example of mutual appreciation between artists, specifically female solidarity in an industry usually ruled by men (like basically every other industry).
Both Manson and Ferreira’s discussed love and gratitude for Blondie fueled the comradery spanning these generation of women and it was inspiring to witness.
Now on to the main event: Blondie. The rock icons have been performing for over 40 years. With the release of their latest album Pollinator, they’ve shown that their genre defying music has only continued to grow and transform with age.
With tracks like “Long Time” and “Fun,” two singles off of the album that echo back to “Heart of Glass” and the danceable disco synths the band is ultimately known for (though they may have confused the CBGB’s crowd), and “Doom or Destiny” (a garageband track that echoes back to the more punk side of Blondie) Pollinator rings just as true as early albums like Parallel Lines or Eat to the Beat.
The band played a mixture of past hits and new favorites. Harry breezed her way through “Rapture” (and Stein had an incredible guitar solo) and belted a fabulous new ballad “Fragments,” a song written by a 17-year-old Adam Johnston that lived solely on YouTube and Bandcamp before the group decided to do a cover of it on their latest album.
In a culture obsessed with reunions and revivals, it becomes easy to be jaded by things that seem to feed off of our culture’s obsession with nostalgia. However, this concert was a perfect example of how the combination of past and present can come together and continue to inspire and push each other towards something innovative but that still rings true to who are.