By Francis Cabal
The Smashing Pumpkins concert in Manila was marred by a lot of things,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨none of which were the band‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨fault‚Ä≠;‚Ä¨ unless you count the fact that it took the band twenty years before playing a show in this country.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨But as Billy Corgan said during the press conference ¬†for the concert (which you can listen to at the end of the article) ,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúYou gotta come the right way‚Ä≠; ‚Ä¨so finally we‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨re here,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨under the right circumstances.‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨ The concert that was supposed to be on August‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨7‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨was moved to the next day,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and while the weather was certainly better than the previous day,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨it was still pretty bad.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Add to that the massive traffic jam on EDSA and the seemingly hundreds of people‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨in line for the MRT,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and you‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨ve got yourself a quest worthy of any boy wizard or unassuming hobbit.‚Ä≠
Trust me though,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨it was all worth the hassle.
Teargarden Of An Epic Scope
When Billy Corgan got together with drummer Mike Byrne,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨guitar player Jeff Schroeder,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and bassist Nicole Fiorentino,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨it was not‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨to try to capture their former glory.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨It was an active effort to create something new,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨rather than an attempt to recapture what‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨it was that made the band work the first time around.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Corgan is not a fan of nostalgia tours,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨to the point of dismissing these reunions altogether.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúThey‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨re essentially coming back only to make money playing their old albums and maybe somewhere in the back of their mind they‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨re thinking there might be a future.‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Billy Corgan‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨said during the press conference.‚Ä≠
Before you even say‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúGet off your high horse,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Billy‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨you should realize that this current incarnation of The Smashing Pumpkins was put together with the idea of making another record in mind.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Ignoring the criticisms that were thrown at‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúZeitgeist‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Billy Corgan and company set out to make the‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨44-song epic‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúTeargarden By Kaleidyscope‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Their latest album‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúOceania‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨ is a part of this project,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨a smaller part of a bigger whole,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨yet something that holds its own as not only a cohesive album but a return to form for The Smashing Pumpkins.‚Ä≠
When asked about‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúTeargarden By Kaleidyscope‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Corgan lamented the poor reception of the EPs they released prior to Oceania,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨saying‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúIn that period,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨everything we put out was like‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄėIt‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s not old Smashing Pumpkins‚Ä≠! ‚Ä¨It‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s not old Smashing Pumpkins‚Ä≠!‚Ä¨ Of course it‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s not old Smashing Pumpkins,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨I‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨m not in old Smashing Pumpkins.‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨
“We tend to kind of be a little bit isolated from other bands, we’re not very social that way.. that seems to be a smashing pumpkins tradition.” – Billy Corgan
Billy Corgan is on a quest to prove himself time and time again.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨This has made him one of the most polarizing figures in rock music,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and in turn,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨this has made The Smashing Pumpkins one of the most polarizing bands in rock music.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨But whenever he doesn‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨t try to please anyone is when he succeeds the most,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and these successes are what made The Smashing Pumpkins also one of the most beloved and respected bands of its era.‚Ä≠
‚ÄúOceania‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨ is one such success,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨an album that managed‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨to please the fans and critics‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨while still subscribing to Corgan‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s vision of what The Smashing Pumpkins should be.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨It was heavy,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨it was melodic,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨it was psychedelic,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and it had everything that was good about the early Pumpkins records and more.‚Ä≠
A Smashing Pumpkins Manila show has been a long time coming,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨but it was inevitable.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Billy Corgan has been in touch with the Filipino community‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨since his early days,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and he even gushed about how humbling it is‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨to play for a country whose culture he ultimately respects.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨And this love was returned in spades by the fans who braved the rain in order to see the band play.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨It was the only time I saw that many people in the Araneta Coliseum in a long time,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and what‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s even more fascinating is that these were all familiar faces:‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨fellow musicians who are also fans of the band,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨friends who‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨were there because of a shared love for the Pumpkins.
It took a while before the band went onstage,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨but when they finally did,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨it was nothing short of electric.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨They played the entirety of‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúOceania‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨ and it was well received by the fans‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨that were there,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨even if some of them attended‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨to‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨watch the band play material from their earlier albums.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨They ended the first set with a cover of David Bowie‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúSpace Oddity‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨ and marked the beginning of the second set of the night where they played classics like‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúTonight,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Tonight‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨ in all its haunting glory,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúBullet With Butterfly Wings‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨ (if you closed your eyes,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Mike Byrne sounded like a young Jimmy Chamberlain‚Ä≠)‚Ä¨,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúLuna‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúToday‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨.‚Ä≠
As a gift to the Filipino fans who were there despite the horrible weather,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨they played an extra long encore that included‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúAva Adore‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚Äú1979‚Ä≠‚Äú‚Ä¨,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúStand Inside Your Love‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúMuzzle‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨They ended the show with a little bit of levity when Jeff Schroeder suddenly played the opening riff of Kiss‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨ ‚ÄúBlack Diamond‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨ that they performed in its entirety,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨a totally unplanned moment that left the fans and the band with smiles on their faces.‚Ä≠
The Future Of Smashing Pumpkins‚Ä≠ = ‚Ä¨The Future Of Music
The show at the Araneta was another amazing show that‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨The Smashing Pumpkins can tick off from their list on this generally well-received tour.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨But what‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s next for the band‚Ä≠? ‚Ä¨Of course it‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s still a long way before they finally finish their‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨44-song masterpiece,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨but judging by Oceania‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s success,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨they‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨re off to a great start.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨The songs are there,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and most importantly,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨the chemistry is there.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨When talking about his current bandmates,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Corgan states that‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚Äú‚ÄúNo,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨they‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨re not intimidated,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨nor should they be.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨How we work in intimate spaces is like a family:‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨we eat together,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨we travel together.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨We don‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨t sleep together‚Ä≠!‚Ä¨ But we have musical‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨respect and,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨also‚Ä≠‚ÄĒ‚Ä¨ maybe in a way that was lacking in some of my earlier bands‚Ä≠‚ÄĒ‚Ä¨we have personal respect,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and that‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s coming out in the music.‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ
That statement is pretty telling,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and it‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s pretty obvious when you listen to the new material.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Billy has finally found his band.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨He is ready to move on with a new group of people,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨ready to perform to a new set of fans.
‚Ä≠‚Äú‚Ä¨We‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨made a lot of people a lot of money by just being weird.‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨ –‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Billy Corgan
During the press conference,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Corgan had a lot to say about how the media has co-opted alternative music.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨According to him,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄúAlternative culture is also about values:‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨being yourself,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨being an individual.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨And when those things are hijacked and‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨then it becomes more like a fashion show,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨show-off-y bullshit,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨I don‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨t know.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨That‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨s not the world I grew up in.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨And maybe I sound like an old man like that,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨but I don‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨t feel that.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨I feel that there‚Ä≠ [‚Ä¨are‚Ä≠] ‚Ä¨a lot of people out there who don‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨t want that.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨They‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨love alternative culture because it says freedom,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨independent thinking,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨exchange of ideas‚Ä≠; ‚Ä¨not‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨‚ÄėHey,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨you‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨re not cool enough‚Ä≠; ‚Ä¨get out of here.‚Ä≠‚ÄĚ‚Ä¨
His main point being that alternative culture is a culture that thrives through inclusion.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Looking around the‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨huge stadium that night,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨it was clear that everybody felt included.‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨Everybody was there because they love the band,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and it was also clear that The Smashing Pumpkins¬†is¬†‚Ä¨a band that is grateful to their fans.‚Ä≠
Now,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨hopefully they come back here for another‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨show,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨and hopefully the weather cooperates…‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨perhaps we‚Ä≠‚Äô‚Ä¨ll see Araneta Stadium packed to the rafters with people,‚Ä≠ ‚Ä¨the way it was always meant to be.‚Ä≠
Photos by Nina Sandejas