May 042013

billy_corgan_of_smashing_pumpkins_in_st_augustineOK. This was a crazy show for a bunch of reasons.

First, a Class 3 Killstorm swallowed much of Central Florida. Driving to the St. Augustine Amphitheater from Orlando was a delicate situation as tropical storm-like rains drove down in sheets. And the rain never let up. It was actually worse when the show ended.

Second, the old person-friendly venue was irritating. Now I love the St. Augustine Amphitheater and have proclaimed that before, but it has some serious flaws. The show was set to start at 7:45. It did despite the awful traffic snarl out front that was mostly caused by the venues poor management of the parking situation to begin with. So as people parked miles from the park (for some reason there isn’t enough parking to support the capacity of the amphitheater), waited in lines getting drenched to the bone, and rode school buses over, the band started.  When the show ended, venue employees were inches away from using cattle prods to get people off the property. The rain was of biblical proportions but there was no quarter to be found on the property. Yes it is a state park and it closes, but you invited thousands of people and the weather was foreboding to say the least.

Finally, the show itself was wrought with technical issues brought on by the rain. The covered amphitheater was drenched as rain came in through the sides and seams of the tarp. The stage appeared to have at least an inch of standing water in places. Reports from the floor said there was absolutely no sound as the venue monitors above projected past the floor and the ones flanking the stage were pushed out far, possibly because of the rain. The volume was deafening in the stands though. During the apocalyptic “And through the eyes of a jackal!” climax of “XYU” Billy was experiencing an outage with his amp or effects board. Hunched and poised for the scream, he began tapping then punching and kneeing his guitar. Techs scrambled as Corgan giggled and goaded the audience. The crowd was forgiving and roared along with him. At one point during “The Chimera” a transformer blew. The sky went red and purple then everything but the stage amps went out. The colossal lighted pyramid, the mics, the drum mics, the stage lighting, and the venue monitors all went out, but the band charged on garage style for a minute or two until one-by-one parts of the stage and rigging whirred back to life.

“The Chimera”proves to be excellent live, but since I heard that in Melbourne I was hoping for another song from the 1-2-3 face punch that rounds out Oceania. That includes “The Chimera,” “Glissandra,” and “Inkless.” I really wanted to hear “Inkless” that night. To my dismay, Billy has departed from the deep-cuts setlist that had the tendency to break out into 30 minute prog-metals space jams from ’07-’08 in favor of a leaner, meaner, more paced setlist a la 2010. The concerts have gone from the Billy and Jimmy garage jam to more of a cohesive, straight-forward band effort. This seems to delight audiences as shows since 2010 are mostly sold out and have an enormously positive response from the crowd. I think the jammy SP would have played an unplanned “Transformer” when the power went out or even “Raindrops and Sunshowers” because of the weather (even though the crowd that waited for them outside at the Hard Rock Live free show in 2008 during an actual tropical storm didn’t get a special nod either), but this show ran like clockwork and ended on time with a rocking version of “Today” that was dedicated to Slayer’s Jeff Hanneman who died earlier that day. And no, no impromptu “Angel of Death” for Jeff.


*Billy picture via Get Amped Magazine

VIP Pre-Show Highlight

Always adding value and unique expereinces for fans, he Pumpkins are doing VIP pre-shows for those with more disposable cash than myself. Here they played “Ugly” a Mellon Collie b-side or Aeroplane Flies High track. They also open the floor up for Q&A with Pumpkin heads.

The answer here gets pretty interesting when he brings it around to his working relationship with Jimmy Chamberlin.