I had a fantastic weekend filled with several cultural events. Friday night I saw The Smashing Pumpkins at Chastain Park Amphitheater, on Saturday night I saw an improv performance of “Theater Sports” at Dad’s Garage, and on Sunday afternoon I caught the final day of the “Frida & Diego” exhibit at The High Museum of Art. This article is Part 1 of a trilogy about those events.
For people of a certain age, The Smashing Pumpkins are among a select few essential rock bands which define their generation. Billy Corgan has one of the most unique voices in Rock history, but putting that aside, they also created an instantly recognizable musical style, and they were one of the bands most responsible for bringing the “Alternative” genre into the mainstream. When Kurt Cobain died in 1994 and the Grunge wave started to recede, The Smashing Pumpkins emerged, blending the Grunge sensibility with a greater emphasis on composition and melody.
But, sadly, that band no longer exists. Yes, a band led by Billy Corgan continues to use that name, but the list of former band members is now longer than the list of current ones, and Corgan is the only remaining original member. Actually, at this point, I prefer to refer to the band as “The Billy Corgans” because at this point the band is so far removed from its past glory, and that fact was obvious during the show on Friday night.
When they played their past hits it simply didn’t have the same chemistry, the same timing, and the same emotional impact. It actually seemed as though the band was playing the songs under protest, simply to appease the fans. Their collective heart just wasn’t in it, and the sound was flat and uninspired.
The newer material sounded better, and the musicians seemed much more enthusiastic while playing these songs, but the problem is… the newer material simply isn’t as good as the classic songs written and arranged by the original line-up.
Which leads me to this… The Smashing Pumpkins should stop being a band. They should break up, or at the very least, they should stop using that name. It’s getting embarrassing. Actually, I would have no problem with Billy Corgan touring with this line-up under a different name, or as a solo artist with this band backing him up. But it’s just not The Smashing Pumpkins anymore and it seems like Corgan’s only real motivation to continue using that name is financial. I’m sure it’s a lot easier to attract a crowd under the Pumpkins banner than it would be as a solo act, but it would be much more admirable if he did that, rather than continuing to disrespect the legacy of a great band.
-For Part 2 of my Weekend of Culture series click here.
-For Part 3 of my Weekend of Culture series click here.