Shirley Manson is philosophical about playing festivals.
She loves meeting musical peers she’d otherwise not have the opportunity to cross paths with, but unless you’re the headlining act, it’s likely you’ll be playing in daylight – a sort of kryptonite to vampiric-minded musicians.
“Would I rather be playing in darkness with my band? Absolutely,” Manson said last week, calling from a tour stop in Richmond, Va. “I don’t think festivals are the ideal place to see us, but I love the fact that it’s great for a fan to get to see a bunch of artists they might not otherwise.”
Manson, 46, is the still-striking frontwoman of Garbage, one of Saturday’s main stage performers at Music Midtown, which kicks off Sept. 21 at Piedmont Park.
The band, which includes drummer Butch Vig, guitarist/keyboardist Steve Marker and bassist/keyboardist Duke Erikson, slipped into a quiet hiatus after its 2005 tour and re-emerged this spring with “Not Your Kind of People.” The album is filled with the ethereal, sumptuously gothic electro-guitar brew that made the band a heady presence in the mid-‘90s with hits “Stupid Girl,” “Only Happy When it Rains” and “#1 Crush.”
While the hour-long set from Garbage, who played Music Midtown in 2002, will likely include nods to their past achievements as well as some new material, such as “Blood for Poppies” and “Big Bright World,” don’t expect to see the quartet hop on stage with any of the other acts.
“We’d love to do it, but it’s hard for us to find the perfect musical counterpoint,” Manson said, adding that as a teen she was “obsessed” with the first Adam and the Ants record, 1979’s “Dirk Wears White Sox,” and loves “fellow redhead” Florence Welch of Florence and the Machine, so she is anticipating both of their sets.
Music Midtown promoter Peter Conlon, president of Live Nation Atlanta, said he does expect some unannounced acts to show up during the two-day festival as well as some spontaneous joint performances.
Atlanta rapper T.I., who appears Friday night, agreed that while he hasn’t talked to anyone else on the lineup yet, “it’s a possibility” he’ll find a live collaborator.
“Maybe David Grohl, who knows?” he suggested last week.
But Manson and the rest of Garbage are simply enjoying being back on the road again.
The band’s tour launched in May and Manson laughs in her throaty manner when asked if the foursome is sick of each other yet.
“Not quite yet. It would take a bit longer, I would suspect,” she said.
She attributes the band’s relative good mood to the success of their return, but also, a bit of perspective.
“We sort of have a renewed vigor. We realize how privileged we are as musicians, because it’s so hard for musicians to make a living nowadays. I think we’re all aware that life doesn’t go on forever and this is a window where we can see amazing things,” Manson said.
The band also realizes how much the music industry changed since 2005 and approached the album not worried about record sales or radio play, but only artistic integrity.
Releasing “Not Your Kind” independently also helped Garbage fully explore their restored creativity without corporate pressure.
“We like a lot of autonomy and we don’t like being told what to do. We’re kind of a hard bunch to deal with,” she said with a laugh. “We decided we didn’t want to play the corporate game. The industry is in a state of panic right now, and I don’t think you can play a good game from a place of fear.”
During Garbage’s downtime, Manson gathered up a new batch of courage and embarked on an acting career. In 2008-09, she co-starred on “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” and said doing the TV show inspired her to take acting classes.
“I loved every day on set. I was like a kid in a candy store. It was a refreshing thing to start,” she said.
And now she’s celebrating another rebirth.
Friday: Van Hunt (4:30-5:15 p.m.); Joan Jett & The Blackhearts (5:15-6:15 p.m.); T.I. (6:15-7:30 p.m.); The Avett Brothers (7:30-9 p.m.); Foo Fighters (9-11 p.m.).
Saturday: O’Brother (1-1:30 p.m.); Civil Twilight (1:30-2 p.m.); LP (2-2:45 p.m.); Garbage (2:45-3:45 p.m.); Adam Ant (3:45-4:45 p.m.); Ludacris (4:45-5:45 p.m.); Neon Trees (5:45-6:45 p.m.); Florence and the Machine (6:45-8 p.m.); Girl Talk (8-9 p.m.); Pearl Jam (9-11 p.m.).
Ticket info: $55 for a general one-day pass ($65 at the gate) or $100 for a two-day pass. VIP and Super VIP packages available. 1-800-745-3000, www.ticketmaster.com. The concerts take place on two stages in the Meadow at Piedmont Park, 1320 Monroe Drive N.E., Atlanta.