There’s so much to say about last night’s Smashing Pumpkins show at Terminal 5 that I honestly don’t know where to begin. So I guess I’ll start at the end, saying that by the time the show was over, everyone was dripping not only in their own sweat, but in the sweat of everyone around them as well! The crowd was one big living organism — pulsing, swaying, thrashing to the music. The energy was incredible.
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And as for the music, my feelings could not be more upbeat about the future of this new incarnation. Clearly each of these players is masterful in his or her own right, but together they had great communication that made the songs — which at times were pretty jammed out — come together with tight purpose.
(The show was streamed live as part of Spin’s 25th anniversary celebration. Very cool!)
One thing that is especially noteworthy was the song selection. There was a perfect mix of heavier songs that got the crowd moshing (notably “As Rome Burns,” “Bullet With Butterfly Wings,” and “Tarantula”) followed by softer songs that allowed everyone to catch their breath.
And trust me, the energy transitions were really necessary. The place was completely packed and everyone was pressing forward, and when things got intense, they got really intense — just like the old days! As someone who’s been to a number of Pumpkins shows over the years, I’m happy the younger fans in the crowd got to experience this aspect of the band, because when that sort of energy is flowing, it radiates back up to the band and makes the entire experience that much more powerful.
Which leads me to my next point, which is that Pumpkins shows should always be general admission. Or at least have a section that’s general admission on the floor. The crowd energy is essential.
And Billy was feeling it, there’s no doubt. At the end of the show, my first thought was: “Oh my God, did Billy Corgan just have a good time?” It was in jest, of course, considering I’ve never met the guy and don’t really care to get into analyzing him to death like so many people do. But in general, his demeanor and interaction with the crowd last night felt really positive and appreciative. He even did a little dance saying in a silly, high-pitched voice that he was the puppet of the crowd and would play until we said to stop! That’s certainly a far cry from the last round of New York City shows, where he brought a fan on stage and cursed him out. (So classic!!)
Another thing that stands out is that the crowd knew the new songs and people were singing along — even if only during the choruses, which is understandable. That has to be encouraging for Billy, considering during the 20th anniversary tour he made it clear he had no interest in being a nostalgia act and wanted to continue to grow the musical legacy of the band.
Of the “new new songs” — which is what I’m calling the ones from the Teargarden by Kaleidyscope project — the Pumpkins opened the show with “Astral Planes” and also played “Song for a Son” and “Freak.” All good stuff, which you can download for free.
I’ll spare you the play by play of the entire show (which you can get in a great review over at Spin.com), but I’m sure you could imagine the euphoria of classic songs such as “Hummer,” “Today,” “Ava Adore” and “Cherub Rock.” It was my goal to make it to the rail last night, and it certainly wasn’t easy considering the density and commitment of the crowd. Still, I managed to rock my way up (I have bruises on my back to prove it…) and hit the rail during “Cherub Rock,” which contains my favorite lyric of all time: “Beware, all those angels with their wings glued on.” The bliss I felt at this moment was unmatched and unforgettable. Life dream come true.
My apologies for not having pictures from this show, as I usually do, but the venue would not allow me in with my SLR camera. They said it needed to be cleared by the band beforehand. That being said, everyone around me was taking pictures and videos the entire time, so the fact that they shut me out is not only annoying, it’s completely illogical.
Anways, can’t wait for the next one!