It was as humid as the rain forests of Vietnam on Saturday as Garbage, Noel Gallagher and Metric shared the bill at the the Dos Equis Pavilion in Fair Park. As the primarily Gen X and millennial crowd bought concessions and filled up seats, the infamous lawn section was noticeably either closed or completely empty.
After she returned from New York to headline a KXT-sponsored concert at the venue, Dallas musician turned international star, St. Vincent, described the lawn section as the place where she and her friends would “smoke cigarettes in high school and act like they were cool.” Throughout the past 30 years, the lawn section has served as the backdrop for countless Dawson Creek
moments. The Dos Equis Pavilion —formerly known as Starplex and Smirnoff Center — has hosted just about every '90s alternative rock band since the genre was born. Now that the '90s kids have reached middle age, they spring for an actual seat.
Metric started the night with a high-energy performance of a decade’s worth of hits as the crowd sauntered into the venue and found their seats. At 8 p.m. on the dot, Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds took the stage to much applause after a deafening free-form jazz track intro.
The band opened with the track “Pretty Boy” from the artist’s newest album, Council Skies
. The group consisted of 10 onstage musicians, and their British haircuts were unmistakable. Apple Music classifies the former Oasis brother’s new album as “Adult Alternative,” but it's more contemporary than his last few efforts. Upon walking onto the stage, Gallagher’s unassuming nature and drab clothing contrasted with his over-the-top interviews and ongoing tabloid-heavy feuds with his brother Liam.
It was nearly 18 years ago, on Sept. 22, 2005, that Oasis played their last Dallas show on the same stage.
Liam Gallagher stood then, snarling at the crowd, carrying a tambourine in his mouth like a dog, swaggering back and forth while the sold-out crowd cheered him on.
On Saturday, Noel Gallagher came in strong with the second song, the new single “Council Skies,” in which his voice dominated the chorus without a flaw.
Flowers adorned the stage as the High Flying Birds kicked off a few other songs to a timid crowd. To a man who's entertained crowds well over 100,000, the audience's general lethargy surely didn't go unnoticed. Gallagher’s voice has arguably become better and more controlled over time, and although his new material is nothing short of great, Gallagher’s solo project is still missing the laddish, swagger-filled sound that brought him to the mainstream spotlight in the first place.
Later on in the set, he told the crowd he’d come all the way from Manchester and asked if anyone was armed before kicking into “We’re on Our Way Now,” from Council Skies
. At 8:28 p.m. the band took on the Oasis classic, “What a Life,” immediately grabbing the crowd’s attention as the singer belted out the chorus with laser-like precision. As he repeated the song's chorus, the words “What a life,” one could only imagine what those words must mean for Gallagher, who indeed has had quite a life of immense influence on all of the people he has touched with Oasis and his solo projects over the past three decades.
Next came “Masterplan,” also by Oasis. The drum fills and anthemic nature of the song was unmistakably Oasis and the band's guitar sound was a wall of sonic textures. Gallagher then moved into a few more songs off the new record, followed by “Half the World Away” from 2009, which was reminiscent of the Oasis classic “She’s Electric.” Then came a subdued version of the 30-year-old classic “Live Forever.“ This got the crowd to their feet, filming and singing every word, proving that a great song can live forever, and often does.
After covering the Bob Dylan classic “Quinn the Eskimo,” the band saved the best for last. It was at this moment Noel Gallagher hooked the audience up to a car battery and turned the juice to full blast, ripping into a perfect performance of the Oasis hit “Don’t Look Back in Anger." He performed just as flawlessly as he did in 1996 for an episode of MTV Unplugged
, when his brother Liam bailed on vocal duties just moments before the duo were to perform one of their biggest U.S. shows to date.
As the band finished their last song and walked off stage, a deep sense of nostalgia followed as Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds ended their set with the Oasis song that had a loving crowd singing every word. We can only hope that one day the two brothers will reunite and give the people what they really want. After all, Oasis is the band that gave both Gallagher brothers everything in life, besides one another.
At around 9:30 p.m., Garbage gracefully emerged on stage, embodying a captivating blend of techno, retro and futuristic aesthetics. Shirley Manson, the band's frontwoman, appeared onstage adorned with her iconic winged-eye makeup, reminiscent of a Vivienne Westwood advertisement. The rest of the band was sleekly clad in all-black. They opened with a powerful performance of "Super Vixen."
Noel Gallagher played with his new project, High Flying Birds, on Saturday.
For their second song, the band delved into an intensely seductive atmosphere, accompanied by mesmerizing background video art portraying abstract expressionist nude bodies. The sultry allure of the moment intensified as they played "Number One Crush," with Manson assuming complete control over the audience, demanding the undivided attention of every pair of eyes in the crowd.
With famous producer Butch Vig on the drums, Manson gracefully traversed the stage, her voice effortlessly balancing between delicate and powerful. She seduced the audience with the performance of their new single, "The Men Who Rule the World," a song that serves as a middle finger to the interests of those in power.
Manson graciously extended a heartfelt shout-out to Dallas, reminiscing about a show in Deep Ellum that marked their initial U.S. tour, when they garnered an overwhelmingly enthusiastic response from the audience. The reference harkened back to a memorable night in 1996 when they performed at Deep Ellum Live. They then launched into their chart-topping hit from the same year, "Special."
After a few more songs, Manson gifted a pair of Vig’s drumsticks to a young fan in the front row, telling him they were, “magical drumsticks that will protect you and you will need them.” Later in the show, while introducing a song, Manson abruptly halted to rescue a beetle that had found itself lost on the stage, urging a member of the Garbage crew to come to its aid. Without skipping a beat, the band seamlessly transitioned into a captivating cover of "Cities in Dust" by Siouxsie and the Banshees.
Many standout tracks left an indelible impression on the audience, such as the timeless classics "Paranoid," "Push It" and the iconic "Stupid Girl," when the band's stage presence and volume reached an electrifying crescendo. Bringing the evening to a poignant close, they delivered a heartfelt rendition of "I'm Only Happy When It Rains."
The evening drew to a bittersweet close, leaving behind the undeniable realization that perhaps alternative music from the '90s has acquired a hint of staleness. It begs the question of whether guitar-driven music needs a touch of danger and self-destruction to remain relevant. After all, the electric guitar has graced our ears for nearly 75 years, and in the grand scheme of things, there are only so many ways to crack an egg.