I’m interrupting my Top 10 Album Countdown to bring you my recap of The Smashing Pumpkins concert that I went to last weekend, which easily falls into my top 3 shows I’ve ever been to (which I’ll count down in a future Sweet Tunes Thursday series).
Hey Calee, the 90s called. They want their wardrobe and angst back.
But first: the back story. You can skip ahead if you want.
The Smashing Pumpkins toured in 1996 to support the release of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. I was 12 (thought I was 13, but then checked the tour dates, confirming I was 12). I begged, and BEGGED my mom to let me go to the show, but ultimately she said no. And that they would probably be around again sometime soon.
Well, if any of you know Pumpkin lore, you remember that in 1996 the original Pumpkins drummer and a keyboardist overdosed on drugs. Though the drummer survived, he was fired, thus ending the original lineup of The Smashing Pumpkins. And in the next few years things fell apart to the point of an eventual breakup.
The frontman, Billy Corgan (
musical CREATIVE genius, extraordinaire) released several albums with side projects — including a solo album — and eventually realized The Smashing Pumpkins was where his heart had stayed. So he and the original drummer, Jimmy Chamberlain, got together to create Zeitgeist in 2008. I had some hope for a tour, but ultimately, I didn’t like the album much, as I was hoping for more of a classic Pumpkins sound (though the album artwork was amazing, and created by one of my favorite graphic designers, Shepard Fairey), so I didn’t bother looking into the tour.
I quit getting my hopes up for a real reunion, or reinvention of The Smashing Pumpkins, and pretty much had forgotten about them altogether — I even got rid of my Zero shirt. Then about a month or so ago I heard a song I didn’t recognize but sounded like The Smashing Pumpkins being played on The Current. I googled the song title, and as turns out, The Smashing Pumpkins had released a new album, AND, it was really, really good. The album even sounded like it was created by the original lineup. I didn’t realize it wasn’t the original lineup until I was actually at the show (and, for those of you who are well-versed in the Pumpkins, you should know that the new lineup recorded the tracks for the new album — not just Billy — at least according to Wikipedia).
And regarding my idiotic release of my Zero shirt? Fortunately my friend Scott had a vintage Zero shirt to replace mine, so I made a dress out of it for the show. And, I wore my leopard print doc martens I’ve had since I was 14.
The Smashing Pumpkins concert was more than I could have hoped for or imagined.
Though, I was not impressed at all the empty seats in front of me. Damn ticketmaster.
After a set by Anberlin, The Smashing Pumpkins took the stage.
They opened the show by playing their new album, and I was so, so, so disappointed, because I’ve been to shows where older bands do this, and never play any of their old dusties that I came to hear. I was relieved when Billy Corgan stopped to address the audience and said that if they were feeling good, they just MIGHT play a few old songs.
The visuals were stunning. Mark said he couldn’t keep his eyes off the sphere with supporting graphics that was in the middle of the stage. The light show was nearly seizure-inducing, but unlike some bands I’ve seen, it went perfectly with the music.
(did I mention I’m kicking myself for not bringing in my real camera? I’m always afraid to do that after a concert where my friend was told to take hers back to our vehicle or it would be confiscated)
I assumed that Billy Corgan wasn’t the type of frontman to talk to the audience. I’d heard that he was difficult, finicky, and hard to work with (all of these things he addressed on stage, BTW). Boy was I wrong. He spent a good amount of time heckling the MN fans about their sports teams, since he’s apparently an avid sports fan, and from Chicago. He joked, “People give me shit about being a sports fan. Like it’s anti-alternative or something. I don’t give a fuck,” which re-confirmed my fandom, and my respect level for him. Turns out he’s a loveable jerk, which created new fandom for Mark, who never really cared for The Smashing Pumpkins.
I can’t remember the last show I’d been to where the band genuinely had fun on stage. They played cover songs, including “Space Oddity” by David Bowie, which made me nearly melt. They even closed with a cover of a KISS song, which the drummer sang instead of Corgan. Breaking convention … oh, so alternative. 😉
And it usually annoys me when bands don’t play their songs as written, and add funky guitar duels and solos in them. Not this time. They were having so much fun, that it didn’t bother me. And it was nice that the new lineup was allowed to add their creative touch to even the oldest of Pumpkins tunes. Not to mention, the extras added quite a bit to the music.
For those of you who are avid Pumpkins fans, here’s the list of oldies they played (apparently we got a few more songs than some of the previous shows … so Billy wasn’t kidding about being finicky). Click the links to hear the songs:
(apparently the younger audience didn’t know “And into the eyes of the Jackyl I say ka-boom!”, and after Billy tried 3x to get the audience to say “ka-boom”, he said, “fuck it”, and went on. haha.)
I was waiting for them to play Today, but unfortunately they didn’t. I’m surprised they played Disarm because most of the music for that is symphonic, and isn’t created live. But I was most impressed with their performance of Bullet With Butterfly Wings (which oddly, sounds a LOT like Megadeth’s Trust, now that I’ve heard it live). When I finally pick up my bass again, I’m planning to learn the catalog. Hell, maybe someday *I* could be a part of that rolling lineup of female-only bass players … ha. if only.
This show is definitely on of the best I’ve ever, ever been too. And I typically don’t like arena shows. It was definitely worth the 14 year wait.
What’s the best show you’ve ever been to?