The Smashing Pumpkins

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Phases & Stages
Photo by John Anderson

The Smashing Pumpkins

Stubb's, Sept. 27

When the Smashing Pumpkins headlined the Frank Erwin Center in November 1996, the Chicago quartet was at its creative peak. Six albums and three original members later, how many people still care? Approximately 2,100 – plus a few more trying to score tickets from scalpers outside a sold-out Stubb's. Of that number, few seemed familiar with the revamped fourpiece's June comeback, Oceania, the Pumpkins' most respectable release since the nine-times-platinum Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Played in its entirety to open the show, the new album received polite apathy from an audience heavily weighted with couples in their early 30s, even if sole constant Billy Corgan's current crew of Nicole Fiorentino, Mike Byrne, and standout guitarist Jeff Schroeder upstage their predecessors, each doubling on keyboards to execute Oceania's few synth-heavy selections. "This is the best place to start our tour," beamed Corgan. "People actually like music in Austin." With a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity," the glazed audience woke up to a powerful 10-song march that included "Disarm," "Bullet With Butterfly Wings," an improved, heavy version of "Ava Adore," and "Cherub Rock." The profound moment came during "Tonight, Tonight." The look in Corgan's eyes during the closing lines spoke volumes about his will: "The impossible is possible tonight. Believe in me as I believe in you tonight." The Frogs' Jimmy Flemion joined the Pumpkins onstage for an encore, singing T. Rex's "Jeepster" and sticking around for a loose version of "Thirty-Three." After fan favorite "Mayonaise" closed the show and the mass exodus began, a man at the merch booth stood alone. Apparently no one in 2012 wants to wear a Smashing Pumpkins shirt.

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