I originally had planned to review the White Stripes and Cold War Kids at the Forum in Los Angeles but read the news about Meg White with her acute anxiety disorder and the cancellation of the tour. It was a bad news, good news scenario as it freed me up to go to San Diego to go see the Smashing Pumpkins.
Hellride lived up to its name. A powerful trio of Mike Watt (Bass), Peter Distefano (Guitars) and Stephen Perkins (Drums) who collectively have contributed to more bands then one could possibly imagine. Mike Watt has been filling in with Iggy Pop and the Stooges but also is known for his bass playing in the Minutemen. Mike Watt was clothed in a bathrobe that didn't confine his elastic bass playing skills. Stephen Perkins (Drums) is known for his work in Jane's Addiction and Porno for Pyros. His drum kit was front and center to display his hyperkinetic drumming. Peter Distefano (Guitars) also was a member of Porno for Pyros and has the distinction of playing one of my favorite solos from the 1990's with the song "Pets". Peter was still in top shred form as he grabbed a violin bow and proceeded to engage his wah pedal for a searing solo augmented with a metal slide during their set. Their set ended unfortunately after thirty minutes.
As I stood in line to pick up my ticket for the show, I was asked by one of the students who was playing. I replied that it was the Smashing Pumpkins. She replied that her mom had seen them in concert. I felt really old at that moment.
The first time I saw the Smashing Pumpkins was in 1994 during Lollapalooza in San Diego. The most memorable thing about that show was when the Breeders walked off the stage after one and a half songs when the crowd threw mud onstage.
The opening rumble of "Superchrist" was a good signal of what kind of show I was in for. The songs kept getting better as "Doomsday Clock" was next and Jimmy Chambelin's drums were deafening. "Hummer" is one of my all time favorite Pumpkins tunes and Billy Corgan (Guitars/Vocals) bent the guitar string behind the nut to get a deeper bending sound. The double solo from Jeff Schroeder(Guitars)and Billy during "Bring The Light" was perfectly in sync. Jeff added some extra harmonic squeals to "United States" that I hadn't caught before. When it came time for Billy to go into his solo for "United States" his volume knob on his Schecter guitar didn't seem to function correctly as he wasn't able to get the appropriate volume swells from his guitar. Billy shrugged it off and improvised using his teeth Jimi Hendrix style for a few moments to the delight of his laughing bandmates. "Ava Adore" knocked me off my feet because I hadn't heard it in the four times I have seen them this year. "Silverfuck" had me wishing I had my guitar in my hands as they crushed the Drop-D tuned riff. If you own any Smashing Pumpkins cd's, tapes, or vinyl, check them out on tour because you will regret it if you don't.
In order to not end my mini tour of the Smashing Pumpkins, I will venture out to Atlanta for two nights (Oct 30 and Oct 31st). I wonder if they will come out as The Beatles like they did on Halloween 1998 at Dodger Stadium opening for Kiss.
Smashing Pumpkins Setlist for the San Diego State Open Air Theatre (9/19/07)
"Bullet With Butterfly Wings"
"Bring The Light"
"That's The Way"
"Glass And The Ghost Children"
"Heavy Metal Machine"