People always ask me why I like the Smashing Pumpkins. It’s not a 90′s alt rock nostalgia thing at all. They (Billy Corgan) embrace everything I ever loved about music: anger, sadness, love, and volume. Corgan assimilates everything from Blue Cheer and Black Sabbath to Blondie, My Bloody Valentine, and The Cure. I hear things from The Beatles and Bowie to Boston, Joy Division and Slayer or even Steve Miller and Fleetwood Mac in SP’s music. It’s metal, goth, glam, alternative, indie, pop, it’s grandiose, and it’s simultaneously self-indulgent and self-deprecating. The Pumpkins are heavily psychedelic and progressive with touches of Yes and Rush mixed in and wild Morrison-esque rants and poetry sprinkled throughout the chaos. All of this varied influence comes through in some of the most innovative and voluminously prolific rock ever recorded and performed.
Billy is a true artist and songwriter, but he is also a true axe-man. SP shows are dominated by his ferociously loud, howling mad guitar (unbelievable drumming is part of it too). People get caught up in “1979″ and “Disarm,” but forget the real guitar god stuff. He embraces a bygone era by channeling the flamboyance and passion of the old school like Hendrix, Townsend, and Page. You think of him as this awkward, pear-shaped misanthrope with a nasal-y voice, but don’t overlook the commanding showman and fierce guitar player he is.
Case in point:
The mighty SP tore through their set for a sold out crowd at The Ritz in Ybor on Wednesday. The venue was beyond capacity and it’s constant temperature hung around or near the same as the 4th circle of hell. Billy was rocking so hard that he actually blacked-out and hit the deck momentarily during “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.” The crowd, although drenched in sweat (some in vomit), stayed with the band until the last crunching, screeching guitar note bellowed from sound system.
“Ava Adore” You know it’s going to be a crazy night when the second song goes like this.
“Bullet with Butterfly Wings” Billy actually howls so hard after the crowd sing-a-long he blacks out, hits the ground, then stands up in a millisecond of confusion, gets his head straight, and jumps right back in. Rock ‘n Fucking Roll! I thought it was stage antics until a later Tweet by Billy said, “I blacked out and wiped out.”
“Owata” a yet to be released song
1. Astral Planes
2. Ava Adore
5. As Rome Burns
6. A Song for a Son
8. Bullet With Butterfly Wings
9. United States
10. Bleeding the Orchid
12. Cherub Rock
13. That’s the Way (My Love Is)
15. Stand Inside Your Love
17. Tonight, Tonight
Written for REAX Online, 7.22.2010