Friday, July 9, 2010

A Night of Guitar Solo With Billy Corgan

Yesterday (Thurs. July 8th) I left Chicago to drive to Grand Rapids for the Smashing Pumpkins show.  I figured I've been listening to them for 12 years or so now, might as well see them live for once, right?  As their tour was not bringing them to CHI I decided a road trip was in order, and that perhaps I'd go to the Columbus OH show the day after as well.

I leave CHI super late of course and get stuck in every rush hour imaginable through CHI, Indiana, and Michigan.  BTW, Michigan has the worst roads I've encountered yet.  I finally get to Grand Rapids and am driving all around this stupid mall where the venue is supposed to be before asking a taxi driver where it is.  Turns out I'm right next to it (you really cannot even tell a venue is there from the road -argh).  So I turn left where Mr. Taxi tells me to and end up driving back to where the tour bus is before security waves me away - oops!  Luckily there was one parking spot in the back lot that I easily backed into.  The tour bus was maybe 75 feet away if even.

I arrived at the venue around 8:15pm and wasn't sure when the show began.  I called the box office over and over to no avail as I was getting dressed and putting my contacts in.  I figured that even if SP was just going on stage it was worth it as they're the only ones I'm interested in seeing anyways (the opener was Kill Hannah, and while I've never given them a legitimate listen, I saw them waaaaaaay back when they were first starting out and had a spot at Summerfest, and to this day there's just something about them that dis-interests me - maybe that they're so seemingly 'scene'/emo/cliche).

I go around the building and there's a short line to the box office, where they're selling tix for $49.  WHAT?  Ok, I usually take my chances buying tix @ the door/day of show because that way you usually circumvent the Ticketmaster fees and if the show does end up being sold out there's always scalpers lurking.  If I had bought my ticket online, even with the fees it wouldn't have been more than $37-42.  WTF Orbit Room.  I have an increasingly bad taste in my mouth regarding this venue.

So a group of four walks up to the line, 2male/2fml, in their 40's or so, asking if anyone needs a ticket, and I say how much.  Fml#1 says $30, and Man#1 holding the ticket says that should be fine, in agreement.  I say I have $30, to which Fml#2 says, "Wait, they're selling them for $49 at the B.O. and you're only gonna try for $30?".  I think to myself, "you greedy bitch" but instead say, "Well, I have $30" and begin to get my money out.  Fml#2 (aka Greedy Bitch) then says, "Well, you paid $42 for the ticket, you should at least get $42", while the other 3 look on, prompting Man#1 (ticket man) to ask, "Um, $35?".  I look at each of them individually in the eye for a glance before looking at Ticket Man and Fml#1 who made the original offer and stating clearly, while holding out my cash, "I. Have Thirty.  Dollars"  Ticket is sold.  Immediately after this exchange Greedy Bitch turns all peaches and cream with me.  "Oh, are you here alone?  Why don't you hang with us?"  Smile smile smile.  Whatevs.

On with the show.  I buy a Stella inside and quickly ditch the foursome as I wasn't feeling very sociable anyways.  Kill Hannah is finishing up their last song, thank god.  I work my way to mid-room while waiting and finish my beer within ten minutes.  Now, while I am a lush, I hardly expect to pay $6/beer as I'd get full before drunk anyways, so the speed of my imbibing was most likely due to the completely insipid conversation surrounding me, SP-related or otherwise.  Ok, seriously people, I don't expect anyone to know an entire band's history/members by heart, but at least skim their fucking Wiki page if you're that goddamn confused as to what's going on and who's playing.  The average age of the crowd was 30-45, and most of them were sloshy drunk and slurring their conversations.  It was annoying and pathetic, especially when all I heard directed at me was, "You muss only be 20 erso, youso yuuuung, whatchu know 'bout PumPKins?" (with a good amount of saliva sprayed into the ignorance for good measure).

The venue was a pretty good size and it was packed.  I allow myself to be pushed further and further up when the crowd surged at each light drop.  By the time SP takes the stage I'm less than 10ft from the stage, front and center (well, a person-width to the right, as if my left arm were next to Billy's left arm as we're facing opposite directions).  This is perfect.  It means I can clearly see all of the band members. 

First off, let me start by saying the new drummer is fucking A-Maze-ING.  Holy shit that kid can wail.  And he eerily reminds me of a coworker of mine from Madison, who I was completely un-attracted to, however, I'd totally fuck that drummer.  Lesson here kids:  Learn an instrument and play it extremely well.  You will get chicks (or dicks, or both if you so desire.  This news is not new and shouldn't surprise anyone). 

So they start off with a 'new' song, 'Astral Planes', and follow it with Ava Adore.  I tried really hard to remember the order of the rest of the set list but they played for almost 2 1/2 hours!  So I'll hafta do my personal highlights. 

The played an amazing rendition of 'Eye', easily one of my faves.  Also 'Stand Inside Your Love' really got to me, 'Song For A Son', which was amazing live, 'Perfect', which totally entranced me as I'm really feeling those lyrics right now.  They played all their latest songs and during 'Widow Wake My Mind' Billy wanted everyone to sing along w/ the "Oh, Oh-Oh" part, and the first time the crowd was really weak.  Billy quipped "You guys make me think I'm in Chicago or something" and he was met by reverberating Boos at that burn.  Needless to say the next take was on point.  And of course the place was pure bedlam during 'Bullet With Butterfly Wings'.  I quickly made my way up a few more rows until I was up front, five feet from the stage, Billy leaning over soloing his little heart out.  Seriously, there was at least 45 minutes of just soloing throughout the entire show.  Dude can play some guitar.  I suppose that makes sense as he's been making music for most of his life. 

Overall the show was fantastic.  I was really amazed by the drummer, and the guitarist as well.  Billy was of course, Billy, all hunched over and singing out the side of his mouth.  The bassist Nicole was gorgeous, but very bored.  And I totally witnessed a silent cat-fight between her and the band/venue photographer at one point lol.  But as it is already almost 5pm here in GR, I don't think I'll be making it to the Columbus show, which is ok.  The show was definitely worth seeing again, and I think that with this lineup they'll be around for awhile and I'll be able to see them another time. 

The internet finally starting working here, now that my battery is at 50%.  I think I will stay overnight again and check out the area a bit more tomorrow.  I had awesome sushi today at Makado & am currently looking up beaches and community events to attend.  I've been in this A/C for too long now, time to fill up the gas tank and go exploring!

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