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Monday, March 28, 2016

Live Review: I Was The Youngest Person at a Smashing Pumpkins Show And It Was Super Weird

Posted By on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 at 12:29 PM

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Smashing Pumpkins
Liz Phair
March 25, 2016
The Masonic


As a ‘90s-baby-turned-twenty-something, I pretty much exist to remind people 35 and over just how long it’s been since the ‘90s. And there were a lot of people over the age of 35 at The Masonic Friday night, many of them still rocking the bald heads they shaved after seeing Billy Corgan’s bare dome on MTV.

This enthusiasm still exists in 2016, as evidenced by the boisterous cheering when Corgan took the stage alone. Bathed in pink light, Corgan strummed through “Cardinal Rule,” “Stumbleine,” and a nostalgia-inducing “Tonight, Tonight.” Guitarist Jeff Schroeder joined him for the now-obligatory Bowie cover: a faithful if predictable rendition of “Space Oddity,” which only sort of meshed with the gentle acoustic mood the pair were attempting to set.

The band – which expanded to their five-member touring lineup sometime around the unveiling of the second of four total backdrops – never stopped erring on the side of the genteel. The rest of us couldn’t stop moving. We sat. We stood. We sat again. The couple in front of me decided grinding on each other was the proper response and stuck with it for the entire set. Have you ever seen a drunk woman dance to a softly-strummed cover of Natalie Imbruglia’s “Identify” like it’s a T-Pain banger? I have. And I hope to never see it again.

The band wove in and out of 1993’s Siamese Dream, earning raucous cheers with an affecting version of “Disarm.” I couldn’t help but wonder what a change of scenery – The Fillmore, per se, or any other venue with some semblance of a standing section – might do for the annoying atmosphere. As exciting as it was to hear the band play “Malibu,” which Corgan co-wrote with Courtney Love for Hole’s Celebrity Skin, no one was able to decide whether to sit or stand or sing-along.

It was disorienting, to say the least. There I was, watching an iconic rock band play their songs to drunk Gen X-ers yelling requests for “1979” in a nice Nob Hill venue. I looked at Scarlett, my twenty-something sister who I’d dragged along with me, and asked her, “Is this really happening?” Alt-rock heroes Smashing Pumpkins – the band that whipped crowds into frenzies during the hallowed ‘90s – were playing it safe to a mostly seated crowd full of people no longer interested in any song as ferocious as “Bullet with Butterfly Wings.”

“Is this us in 25 years?” I asked Scarlett. We shuddered together at the thought of watching The Strokes, St. Vincent or The Black Lips while sitting down. We shuddered again at how such a fate seemed inevitable.

The trouble with rock is that it doesn’t die. It ages with us. And watching Smashing Pumpkins without their fangs in a stuffy venue working against them convinced me of exactly one thing: Aging is a terrifying, yet inevitable prospect.
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Elle Coxon

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