Smashing Pumpkins at Bayou Music Center, 5/15/2013

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Photos by Abrahan Garza
Smashing Pumpkins
Bayou Music Center
May 15, 2013

This is not a Smashing Pumpkins review.

Sure, the title of this post hints otherwise, but I assure you -- the Smashing Pumpkins broke up in Chicago, on December 2, 2000. I was there.

Props to front man Billy Corgan for trying like hell to keep his dream alive, but after a while, we have to come clean and call this band what it really is: Billy Corgan and some hired guns mostly playing songs they mostly didn't write.

Harsh it may sound, but that's coming from an admitted (mostly) former Pumpkins fanatic. I need to utilize all my fingers and most of my toes to count the number of times I've seen The Pumpkins live since 1994 (at the age of 11). I have just about every Pumpkins T-shirt ever designed -- I've worn each one into the ground, and I've even got the awkward school pictures to prove it.

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Of the several Pumpkins shows I saw in 1996, one in particular echoed through my mind during Wednesday night's show at Bayou Music Center. During this one, the band plowed through several radio hits early on, and saved the hidden gems and fan favorites for the encores. "See those empty seats," I vividly remember Billy saying, pointing out the newly empty seats of fans who came and instantly left after hearing the singles. "We don't play for those people," he assured us. "We play for you."

It was a starkly different scene Wednesday.

Not only were there zero hidden gems in the hit-dominated set, but there was a general lack of passion onstage. Besides some quick banter with guitarist Jeff Schroeder, the band didn't interact much.

According to Corgan, his current band members (guitarist Jeff Schroeder, bassist Nicole Fiorentino, and drummer Mike Byrne) are "capable musicians." And they are: Technically, the band is so tight they could all waltz into a studio ready to record in an instant. Without passion or the least bit of chemistry, however, this talent all gets lost in the mix.


Location Info

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Bayou Music Center

520 Texas Ave., Houston, TX

Category: Music

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10 comments
Brent Tisdale
Brent Tisdale

Yes, and no, he's trying to replicate them, but in normal billy style he's trying to make them into something new. He's always done that, no two albums are alike, and yet in some ways they are, sometimes it's a good thing, and sometimes not. Getting a fresh face on a Pumpkins album is basically expected, weather it's a new direction, or new performers.

Stevie Klaus
Stevie Klaus

hired guns....cmon, he is STILL playing with a female bassist like D'Arcy was still here. Im surprised hes not playing with an Asian lead guitarist

andrewkarnavas
andrewkarnavas

I thought it was a great show, XYU was my favorite part of the night. Billy's voice and chops are still top notch and the hits all still sound fresh. The lead guitarist needs to gel a little more, but it's a complex catalog to learn for sure, even if you just look at the hits, and the BC perfect guitar tones on the albums don't help him out much!

idylwino
idylwino

It kills me to agree.   I honestly enjoyed the new material more than the "by the numbers" radio singles, simply because they gave themselves room to stretch and play.   When the backing track to "Disarm" kicked in, I seriously considered going to get another megabeer.   That was definitely the lowest point of the show, and I wish they would have played the piss and vinegar version from "Viewphoria" just to shake things up just a little bit.   "Starz" is still a really awful song, but I was impressed at "United States" as I really didn't think anything from Zeitgeist was redeemable at all.

I blame the unenthused vibe from the stage on an apathetic Houston crowd.   I understand people just wanting to hear the hits, (I like "Cherub Rock" too!) but watching the show through a cell phone and talking about lunch plans during the unfamiliar parts is bound to have an affect on those dudes.   I felt bad for the guy near us who descended into madness and was yelling "STARLA!" between every song.

I wonder if this current iteration has legs at all.  If they never record another album, then this would be a sad mournful farewell to a truly excellent band.

drewl
drewl

Clearly, this reviewer was not at the show.

idylwino
idylwino

@craighlavaty_ @idylwino @drewl 

Last three?   Warehouse was the one a few years back that was loaded with unfamiliar material (Oceania wasn't out yet), and before that was BuzzFest, or am I forgetting one?

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