Thursday, June 30, 2005

Billy Corgan @ Webster Hall - June 28, 2005

One of the many constant themes in any musicphile's life is coming to grips with the fact that some of the icons of your youth are idiots. Billy Corgan, one of my, if not the biggest, adolescent hero, has become one of those idiots - or he always was, but I didn't realize because I was blinded by adoration for his incredible ability to articulate all of the emotions that come with being a teenager in his soaring guitars, his vulnerable voice, and his sloganeering lyrics. Well, these days, Billy is very busy complaining about how the Smashing Pumpkins never got the kind of academic analysis that they deserved, making over the top announcements about getting the old band back together, and revealing the truth behind his shiny bald façade through his blog. All of this conveniently timed to coincide with the release of his first "solo" album - TheFutureEmbrace. The announcement and the blog would be actually very cool if they didn't feel so damn calculated.

Of course, the eighteen year old in me jumped on pre-sale tickets for his concert at Webster Hall on Tuesday night prior to consulting my less inner twenty-seven year old who pays the bills (and also suffered through the extraordinarily aggravating concert that was Zwan at Hammerstein), or even hearing his solo album to see if it would be worth it. Since buying the tickets, I purchased TheFutureEmbrace, and it's what I expected: an enjoyable but less impressive foray into the area of singer-songwriter gone electro-goth that the Pumpkins explored on Adore.

As the tickets were a sunk cost, I went to the show feeling mixed. On its own, I would be happy enough to see Thefutureembrace live, but for 40 bucks and with all of the foolishness that Billy has engaged in recently - this show had low expectations. And my feelings about Billy didn't improve upon walking into Webster Hall and seeing the concert shirts that were being sold - all of them were just big pictures of his massive head…very appropriate…

Taking the stage at close to 11, Billy's persona instantly filled the room and every twenty and thirty something cheered wildly because in the flesh was the same gawky-looking alien that once put out an album that contained "Cherub Rock," "Hummer" and "Geek USA." Sadly, despite Billy's desire to get the old band back together (meaning get Jimmy Chamberlin back on the kit and hire something pretty to stand on the side if D'Arcy and James aren't interested) none of those were played, although Billy did tease the crowd with 2 seconds of "Today." He played a bunch of songs off the new album, a few other tracks which were not on it (and not particularly good - or I just didn't recognize the worst songs on TheFutureEmbrace), and closed with a cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top (if You Want to Rock and Roll)." Billy's band was made up of
this girl (looks like he hired her straight off of Suicide Girls), Matt Walker (the drummer that played with the Pumpkins during Jimmy's short sabbatical away from the group because of his love of the skag), and Brian Liesegang (of Filter's first album, Short Bus - I thought that might have been him). The most impressive part of the show was the room-encompassing screen that surrounded the back of the stage - it was up there with Kraftwerk's rig. Webster Hall was almost too small for the screen and the images on it looked the clearest on the projection screen that's on the second level of the venue (the camera shooting the stage is at the back of the venue and was far enough away to give the proper perspective. The new stuff was good - icy electronic melodies with Billy playing crisp, strident guitar lines that could have been played by The Edge.

The show was not as bad as I feared it could have been. Not the most glowing review ever I know, but my expectations were so low, that it is a compliment. But this is the last time I see Billy without a contractual guarantee that I am going to hear some Pumpkins. Check out Central Village's review and photo


At 9:40 AM, Blogger dave said...

whoa. that Linda Strawberry site is borderline Not Safe For Work. Based on that site alone...kind of sad that Corgan brought her along on tour (hopefully he's at least hittin' it).


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