Smashing Pumpkins

SDSU Open Air Theatre, Sept. 19

By Carlie Armstrong

As far as southern California nights go, Wednesday night was alarmingly chilly. However, inside the Open Air Theatre, (though technically still outside) the climate was hot and heavy with the dripping excitement of a sold-out crowd. Hellride, a three-piece band containing former Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins, lead singer/Minutemen retiree Mike Watt, and renowned guitarist Pete Distefano opened the soon-to-be orgasmic show with a mediocre round of too much distortion and some semi-hokey yelling.

(Photos by Carlie Armstrong.)

Once Billy Corgan, Jimmy Chamberlain, and their new-found Pumpkin additions Ginger Reyes, Jeff Schroeder, and Lisa Harriton stalked on the stage, clad to the nines in full white, there was a complete mood-shift in the audience. Besides the amphitheater had swelled to bursting with its sold-out audience, the excitement circulating the place was starting to boil over into all-out screaming, groping, and feverish sighing.

The Pumpkins are a rare and bonafide act – that's obvious. Their show was musically and audibly without flaw. Everything was synchronized; the pristine outfits, the lights, the heavy guitar swings and tone distortions. Even the setlist was perfect, a concoction of new and old, with Billy setting a boundary lightly between them by proclaiming which happened where, and treating everyone to an acoustic performance of 1979. Other songs which were flawlessly performed during the two and a half hour show included: “Tarantula” (the single from their new album, Zeitgeist), “Ava Adore,” “Muzzle,” “Doomsday Clock,” “United States,” “Disarm,” “Siamese Dream,” and “Perfect.”

To break things up, Corgan played a demented but tasteful version of the Star-Spangled Banner, but with his tongue. Corgan kept things strange when he batted the mike-stand over with his white guitar. He proclaimed himself humbled, since the audience’s “entertainment dollar” could be spent in so many other places, and that he hoped they would be “blessed with many children, and wives.” To clear up the fact that the new Billy Corgan was unlike the old one, however, he made a long and silent last prowl back and forth over the stage after the second encore, smiling and nodding in recognition to the shouts and adoration frothing over onto him. The night was summed up in Corgan’s last statement, “We thank you for flying our demented airline, hope you had a pleasant flight.”

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