As longtime readers of Places Parallel may know, I have a love/hate relationship with Billy Corgan.
Love, because the Smashing Pumpkins dominated the soundtrack of my college youth, and the undeniable power and genius of Siamese Dream as well as the giddy creativity of Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness have long outlived the flannel shirts and professional angst of other '90s acts. (And for the record, Adore was extremely underrated, imo.) Billy Corgan was also important to me as a local boy made good. When Billy hit the pinnacle of his fame, I was trapped in the blue collar, closed-minded region of Northwest Indiana. It was so close to Chicago, geographically and mentally, that you could go to one of the beaches in Gary, not too far from the smokestacks of the steel mills and oil refineries, and just across Lake Michigan, you could make out the lights of the Chicago skyline...so close, you could almost touch it, and then it was curfew time. Bah! It was easy to think of Billy as one of us...an artist, sensitive, misunderstood, who clawed his way to the top--not just in Chicago, but all over the world.
Hate, because since the breakup of the Pumpkins, Billy has seemed more of an infomercial charlatan with a lot of product to push than the silver-pants-clad rock god of my not-so-distant memory. After a forgettable little project with ugly cover art called Zwan and some disappointing solo efforts (some bad poetry, an album that no one bought), Billy "reunited" (a term I take strong issue with, considering that no one named James Iha or D'arcy Wretzky is involved) the Smashing Pumpkins and proceeded with Project "Exploit the Die-Hard Fans." You can read my prior complaints here, but mostly I was dismayed at Billy releasing about 7,000 versions of the same goddamn album, with one track available at Target and one track available at Best Buy and another track available in a limited edition Happy Meal at McDonald's. Just kidding about the latter, but maybe Billy is kicking himself for not thinking of that.
Also, I was pissed because the Pumpkins really seemed to go out of their way to avoid Chicago, their home town. Remember, Billy, how "the embers never fade, in the city by the lake"? My previous post was written in June 2007, and as of nearly August 2008, the Smashing Pumpkins have STILL not deigned to visit the Windy City.
But according to an email message I recently received, they will be visiting the city of MY birth, Hammond, Indiana. On Saturday, August 9, they will be playing at The Venue at the Horseshoe Casino. They're opening their tour...at a Northwest Indiana...casino? Unless one is playing Vegas, performing at a casino smacks of a lack of dignity. However, Mr. Maise did point out that I was being a snob. The newly built Venue appears to have cost an awful lot of money and is supposed to be a state-of-the-art...um, venue. And maybe Mr. Maise is right. Maybe I *am* being a snob. After all, the Stone Temple Pilots aren't too good for The Venue. Neither is Bette Midler. Or Lynryd Skynyrd. Or Billy Idol.
But what really gets me is the fact that to see this half-ass reunion of the Smashing Pumpkins at a Northwest Indiana casino will cost one $83/ticket (not including Ticketmaster fees). Oh, Billy, really?!! The people of Northwest Indiana (or as we affectionately refer to ourselves, the "Region rats") are, by necessity, extremely thrifty. I really can't imagine, in a recession, people in NWI lining up to pay $83/person to hear half of a famous band from the '90s play a lot of tracks from an album that no one bought (or maybe a few people bought 10 times each). Hell, I'm no laid-off steel mill worker, but I don't spend $83 per ticket on a show unless it's really fucking good. I think the last time I paid that much was for the Police, and shit, I waited like 25 years for that show and got all three of them!
I guess there will be some sort of 20th Anniversary show scheduled in Chicago--finally! No one yet knows what that will entail...a sold-out crowd at a teeny-tiny venue, like the Metro? Bombastic arena rock, like in the Mellon Collie days? But is it too little, too late after all of the missteps of the previous year?
Maybe I'm the only one troubled by these issues in the first place. The thing is, as much as I'm hating, I do kind of want to see the Smashing Pumpkins again. I can forgive. But there would have to be a lot more rock and a lot less exploitation of the common fan.