Review: The Smashing Pumpkins – Live in Milwaukee, October 13, 2011

The Smashing Pumpkins at the Riverside Theater in Milwaukee, WI


Quasar, Panopticon, Starla, Geek U.S.A., Muzzle, Window Paine, Lightning Strikes, Soma, Siva, Oceania, Frail and Bedazzled, Silverfuck, Obscured, Pale Horse, Thru the Eyes of Ruby, Cherub Rock, Owata, My Love is Winter, For Martha. Encore: Pissant, Bullet With Butterfly Wings


It’s been 15 years since the Smashing Pumpkins original lineup existed but this is no tribute band. And I really hate tribute band tours. Tribute bands should fly away on the same plane as the Backstreet Boys. Seriously? Did the Eagles really need to tour again a few years back? The Rolling Stones?  Fleetwood Mac?  Paul McCartney?  The Stones haven’t written an important rock record since the Ford presidency. Fleetwood Mac’s watershed moment was 1978. The Eagles have never written an important pop song – just California convertible fluff for my ears. So if you’re going to keep your band together (by name) and go out live – then you have one shot: Play the songs you want to play – not the tunes that 96% of the crowd is expecting.  Unfortunately, despite being as talented as anyone in the business, Billy Corgan hasn’t had much go right since 1998. Very little indeed. His musical catalog is tremendous – his success this century is far less. When your Zwan album and the light show from your solo tour are two of the best highlights of the past 13 years it’s time to regroup a little….


And Billy has gone back the right way. Obscure album tracks, b-sides, forgotten jams – and a few new ones to break it up a little. There is no ‘Zero’ (except for the t-shirt at the merchandise stand). There is no ‘1979’. There is no ‘Today’. There is no ‘Disarm’. There is no ‘Ava Adore’. You get one hit for an encore and 2 hours of “you’re gonna take what I give you – and fuck you”. Bring it on because we love it. Kudos Billy – this is like Pink Floyd hitting the theaters and playing “Obscured by Clouds” from start to finish. Sometimes you just need to please yourself and those 4% in the crowd. Finally, someone has done this right. Sometimes you just need to piss off the 96%!


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