It's the Smashing Pumpkins, Charlie Brown
Rosemont Horizon - Rosemont, IL
October 4, 1996
First Appeared in The Music Box, November/December 1996, Volume 3, #8
Written by John Metzger
The Smashing Pumpkins finally made it back to Chicago for a three-show run at the Rosemont Horizon in early October. When the Pumpkins embarked on this tour, little did they expect the events that took place. Their back-up keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin died of a heroin overdose earlier this year which led to drummer Jimmy Chamberlin being ejected from the band. Since then, the band picked up the keyboardist from The Frogs as well as the drummer from Filter, who has a harder edge and less of a jazz-style than Chamberlin.
The two hour and fifteen minute opening show was a power-fest of hard-hitting Pumpkins material, primarily from their latest release Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The band took the stage as the title track from this album was piped in over the speakers. Once they picked up their instruments, they pounded out rocker after rocker, including Bullet with Butterfly Wings, Muzzle, Zero, and XYU.
Of course, the hits (Disarm and Today) from their last recording Siamese Dream made appearances, although surprisingly not as encores. Thank goodness, because the band sounded more than bored with these worn-out numbers. In fact, even Tonight, Tonight sounded somewhat strained. The audience enjoyed all three songs though, and turned them into sing-alongs.
Porcelina of the Vast Oceans was magnificent, as Smashing Pumpkins took the song to higher and higher heights. The band seemed to lose the audience a bit, perhaps due to the song's length.
Throughout the show, the Pumpkins used a number of video screens behind the band and put on a staggering light show. Between songs, a number of video clips were shown, including one from Planet of the Apes. Much like U2's Zoo TV tour, the Pumpkins assaulted the senses from all directions.
The first encore was a strange and somewhat insane "circus" version of 1979. The leader of The Frogs, wearing his typical shiny, glittery outfit and angel wings, took the stage, and selected audience members to join the band. Singer Billy Corgan announced, There's only one rule — don't touch our shit!"
After 1979, many folks started to leave and ended up missing the best part of the show! Corgan and company took the stage one last time for what turned into a 25 minute free-form jam of amazing intensity and total insanity. The Pumpkins pounded out a blitzkrieg of sound and feedback as Corgan paraded back and forth across the stage, much like the lead character in Pink Floyd's The Wall. This was a truly frightening exhibition, as Corgan proceeded to take every comfortable and familiar symbol from Generation X's childhood and smash it upon the rocks of insanity. Corgan did everything from declaring himself to be the Great Pumpkin to repeatedly chanting, There's no place like home and We are the disease over and over. The video screens only added to the horror invoked the band.
On a final note, throughout the show, I was incredibly impressed with the guitar playing of James Iha. The expression and skill of his playing are phenomenal and really carried this performance with Corgan. It seems as if this latest album has brought Iha into full focus as a true partner in the band, and I am eagerly awaiting the next album and tour!
Grant Lee Buffalo opened the show with a rather bland 40-minute set of material.
Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!
Copyright © 1996 The Music Box