Saturday, November 8, 2008

20 Years of Smashing Rock Music

Last night we went to the Smashing Pumpkins concert at the United Palace Theater. The subway ride up to 175th Street in Washington Heights was surprisingly not as brutal as we thought it would be.

We walked into the United Palace and were in awe of the beautiful theater that looked Gothic, Victorian, and Quirky and smelled like your grandpa's closet.

The intricate and odd designs of United Palace has been described as "Cambodian, Rococo, Neo-Classsical, Persian, Indo, Romanesque." It was made for vaudeville, is currently owned by a church, yet most often its performers are rock bands. The mix of all these elements make it an especially perfect venue for a band like Smashing Pumpkins.

We liked these quotes from Rev Ike of Christ United Church: "I am not other peoples opinions" and "When you discover who you are, it doesn't matter what you've been."

There were no opening acts. The concert started on time at 8:00 PM. They played a solid two and a half hours. The theater was completely packed (there were even two buddies that got stuck trying to share one seat). The crowd was definitely a Smashing Pumpkins crowd and the same kind of crowd that would probably also go to a Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, and Beastie Boys Concerts - the kind of people that grew up with these bands' music at the height of their careers and no matter how old we get, no matter how old these band members get, their music is always constant, defining a certain moment in time of our youth, adolescence or early adulthood.

The Smashing Pumpkins sounded phenomenal. The stage was simple and intimate. The lighting was insane; it was an artistic show in itself and conveyed the perfect visual element for each song. The music was classic Smashing Pumpkins - from the angst-filled hard guitar sets to the melancholy acoustic solos. They're one of the few bands that can seamlessly integrate trumpets and violins into their tortured-soul, despair-filled sounds. Some sets were painfully long. And one of the disappointments was that they didn't play a lot of our favorites. The crowd went crazy when they played their classics like "1979," "Disarm," and Corgan's beautiful acoustic version of "Landslide."

One funny yet annoying moment was when someone from the crowd shouted something at Billy Corgan, which upset the sensitive rocker. Corgan called him on to the stage where the guy shouted at Corgan, "your concert sucked last night," and Corgan responded by saying, "do you want your money back?" The jerk responded "no."

I'm sure most of us last night could not believe this was their 20th Anniversary concert. It'd be crazier to see them at their 40th. We waited a long time and had to travel all the way to New York City to see them live. We would have liked to hear all the songs that made us fall in love with them, but we were grateful for the night that we got to drown in their music. After all, bands like Smashing Pumpkins and musical geniuses that have a love and hate relationship with their success like Billy Corgan, are an almost extinct breed.