More Pumpkins

I don’t know if I was really ready to tackle another big rock show, but I couldn’t resist seeing the Smashing Pumpkins in a small club. I’d tried to get tix when they went on sale last week and failed, but a little birdie told me they’d be releasing some on Monday, so I checked until I got some. No one I knew was interested, so I offered it back to the birdies, and had a quick taker. He lived in Herndon, so we met at the Bavarian Monstrosity and headed in. We didn’t get there until after 9, so we missed the initial festivities. Apparently, to celebrate the album being released, they had a parade, with the band in vintage cars (and security detail), cheering crowd, and protesters. Inside, the theme continued, with patriotic bunting, custom flags, and balloons released at the end of “United States”, the opening song. We did not miss the barbershop quartet before that, and that was fun.

I’ve been a Pumpkins since Siamese Dream, but only saw them live a couple times, on that tour and Mellon Collie. I saw Billy after that in Zwan (good stuff) and solo (eh), but it was the Pumpkins material I really wanted to hear again. The new material sounds like a progression from previous albums (leaving out the electronica tinged sounds of Adore, thank goodness), and it rocks live. New songs that were good live: “Bleeding The Orchid”, “Doomsday Clock”, “Tarantula”, “Starz”. And as far as it not being Pumpkins reunion with only half the original band: phooey – Billy writes the songs and plays the music, just like Trent Reznor in NIN, so if he says it’s Pumpkins, it’s Pumpkins.

still bald

The show started with a nice mix of old and new songs, “Today” again a standout. My favorite part was Billy alone with an acoustic guitar for four songs, doing awesome versions of “Thirty-Three” and “Rocket”. “Tonight, Tonight” was next, and I think my highlight – almost too dynamic for the club. They slowed it down with four new songs, but tucked “Zero” in the middle so that brought the crowd alive. They ended the set with killer takes on “Disarm” and “1979”, before coming back for the encore with “Cherub Rock”. The only part that dragged was the second encore, new song “Gossamer” was a self-indulgent piece that lasted nearly 20 minutes. Happily it didn’t end with that, they were dragged back for a third time to perform the vice president’s favorite song. I don’t know if I’ll go see them at Virgin Festival – I’m seeing all the acts I’d like to see there, plus they go on last, but this show was well worth the effort.