SMASHING PUMPKINS @ 1STBANK CENTER | 10/16/12
"So, for those of you who are insiders into our multi-faceted world, you know that we're playing our album first tonight, Oceania," Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan told the crowd at 1STBANK Center on Tuesday night. "And then, if I'm in the mood...I have been know to be fickle -- a flip-flopper, maybe. A bit of a gig flip-flopper. Then we get around to playing a few classics at the end. In the beginning, they were just really good songs, and now they're classics. See, the funny thing is now we're playing good songs that one day may be classics. Ironic, isn't it, to have lived that long?"
But as noble a notion as it may have been, playing Oceania all the way through for the first half of the set might not have been the best to way engage the meager crowd, which seemed to fill roughly a quarter of the venue last night. With the stage placed in the middle of the floor, it made the 1STBANK Center feel a lot smaller than it did last week at the New Order show.
Corgan was flanked by his latest line-up of guitarist Jeff Schroeder, bassist Nicole Fiorentino and drummer Mike Byrne, who Corgan would later note that they were the 87th, 88th and 89th band members in the Pumpkins 24 year history. While running through Oceania during the first hour, the quartet dug in and delivered some powerful cuts, like "Quasar" and "The Celestials," which started off slow and ramped up the intensity halfway through. Byrne, who proved to be a more than capable drummer, fueled a few songs with his vigorous tom-tom beats.
It wasn't like the Pumpkins weren't trying, but during that first hour, the crowd just seem to be really feeling it. Most of the people who weren't on the floor were sitting in their seats, like they were watching a film or something. The looks on their faces seemed to be looks of either fascination or confusion, or maybe a combination of both. Or maybe they were just mesmerized by the giant video projection globe above the band. Despite Corgan's proclamination that these Oceania cuts were good songs that one day may be classics, judging by the crowd's tepid reaction to a lot of the tunes, you got the feeling that they weren't necessarily buying it.
It took a revved up take on David Bowie's "Space Oddity" to really spark the crowd, and the tune was borderline epic with Byrne beating the hell out of the drums. The crowd started warming up even more on "Disarm" and "Tonight, Tonight," and by the time the Pumpkins launched into "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," the crowd clapped along to the bass and drum intro, and from there, the place pretty much went batshit. That song got the biggest reaction of the night.
While it would have been great if the band had kept that energy surging, Corgan instead took a few minutes to speak to the crowd:
"How y'all doing? You okay? After that Monday night game, this city should be on fire. I wouldn't have liked to have been in that office. 'Peyton, we just don't think you have a future here in Indianapolis. We want to go with this rookie. Sorry. That is one good thing about getting older is that you root for the old guys. It's weird, because I'm watching the game and I'm like, 'Wait, I'm older than him.' This is weird."
After his bit about Manning, Corgan told a story about when he was at church as a kid. As he started into it, Schroeder said in disbelief, "Church? Wow!"
"This was before I stopped going," Corgan said. "True story. And so the Broncos that year were in the Super Bowl. I don't know who the quarterback was then. It was like Joseph Smith or Josiah something. Anyway, so we went to the cool church. There was like the super Roman Catholic mass in Latin. We went to the cool church, and we had a cool priest. At the end of the sermon, he goes, 'I think the Broncos are going to win the Super Bowl' And they lost. Then I stopped going to church."
"Is that the day you lost faith?" Fiorentino asked.
"I lost faith, but I have faith in you," Corgan replied. "Listen, you are not a god, okay, you are a goddess."
A few songs later, the band tapped back into some of that energy lost during Corgan's banter on "Cherub Rock," which was packed with ton of vigor. While "Ava Adore" and "Muzzle" were listed on the set list for the encore, the band instead closed the night with a cover of KISS's "Black Diamond" with Byrne handling the vocals. It was a slightly bizarre choice to end with, but somehow it worked.
Personal Bias: I realize Corgan wants to share Oceania with crowds on this tour, but just playing a few cuts off the album and including more of the band's earlier material might have made the crowd more engaged.
By The Way: Corgan mentioned they were watching the presidential debates before the show and talked politics for bit after his Broncos story and said, "When Palin was in the election a few years back, I could at least fantasize with her, but who do I fantasize with on this ticket? Biden? It kind of takes me back to that basement with the priest."
Random detail: For the most part, Corgan seemed to be having a good time and smiled quite a bit.
Smashing Pumpkins 1STBANK Center - 10/16/12 Broomfield, CO
Quasar Panopticon The Celestials Violet Rays My Love is Winter One Diamond, One Heart Pinwheels Oceania Pale Horse The Chimera Glissandra Inkless Wildflower Space Oddity X.Y.U. Disarm Tonite Reprise Tonight, Tonight Bullet with Butterfly Wings Song for a Son Zero Cherub Rock
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.