Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Review- The Smashing Pumpkins @ The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, MI on October 23, 2012

The Smashing Pumpkins w/Morning Parade @ The Palace of Auburn Hills in Auburn Hills, MI on October 23, 2012 (Detroit 10/23/12)

It's been just over a year since The Smashing Pumpkins v2.1 last played Detroit. The Palace is a basketball arena located 20 plus miles outside of the city proper in Auburn Hills. I love the building but hate the location and the $15 that they charge you to park there. I pulled into the parking lot around 7ish, and was able to score a sweet parking spot. I was disappointed at the turnout, with my best guesstimate being around 5,000 people in attendance. The upper bowl was curtained off and roughly half of the concession stands were shuttered. 

I snatched a pic of my ticket before they forced an upgrade on me
I was surprised to have my $75 lower bowl seat upgraded not once, but twice, ultimately winding up in the second row of lower bowl in the first section next to the stage. I was on Nicole's side, so stage right I'm guessing. I had the honor of ending up next to a middle aged drunken Gen X asshole who was there with his younger brother. He insisted in trying to bait Billy throughout the show, yelling BIIIIIIiiiiIIIIIIlllLLLLLLLyyyYYYYyyyyYYYYyyy over and over. And over. And over. The glares of everyone in the audience around him was lost upon him. I could hear him talk over the music on occasion, and he was telling his brother how he was trying to “recreate The Breslin Center show by having Billy throw a beer at him again”. Breslin Center? Was this guy trying to recreate his 1994 experience at being an asshole or something? He kept yelling for “BIIIIiiiiIILLLLLlllYYYyyyyYYY PLAY YOUR CLASSICS”. 

He criticized the crowd for “not being into it” or moshing enough during Bullet With Butterfly Wings. I wanted to spit on him for the longest time, but after a while I started feeling sorry for him. What a loser. The defining moment of his youth was purportedly pissing Billy Corgan off in 1994, and here he was 18 years later and still hasn't gotten the point. I can only imagine him being bitter, not really into music per se' but somehow found out about this show. This guy was every bit the cliché' that the Boston fans that I mocked in 1994 were. Stuck entirely in their youth, trying desperately to recapture it in drunken stupors, and blaming everyone else for their problems. Sad.

It was at this point that I realized what an impossible, uphill battle the band faces. I was always about the next album, the next B-side, the next show, looking ahead for the band. The rest of the old school fans seem to have become the classic Rock cliches that they mocked in the '90s. There's got to be irony in there somewhere, but I have been over irony for some time. Maybe irony jumped the shark or whatever the kids call it now. 

Roughly 20 minutes before the Pumpkins came on.

It filled in more when they came on, but come on, Detroit.
The lights went down and the globe/orb thing was revealed. The crowd was quiet, and I had a feeling of uneasiness. Oh geez, first attendance was sparse, now the crowd would be unreceptive. Billy played some odd sounding thing on the keyboard and then it was off to the races. Quasar and Panopticon saw the band in full Rock mode, while The Celestials and Violet Rays were slower and moodier. I kept looking around trying to gauge the audience's response to the new stuff. It seemed pretty uniform, regardless of which song off of Oceania was played. 

The globe was a giant projection screen, with the images dancing around the entire sphere. It was trippy, and the recurring themes were flowers and flying turtles, constellations and the moon. Trippy stuff. I loved it all. My Love Is Winter was next.

There were three keyboards at the front of the stage, and Billy, bassist/vocalist Nicole Fiorentino and guitarist Jeff Schroeder all took turns playing various parts. One Diamond, One Heart and Pinwheels are two songs which showed why this was necessary. 

Oceania and Pale Horse are the highlights of the new album for me, but The Chimera was the star of the new album live. It really shines in a live setting, and I hope that it sticks around in the set in the future. Glissandra and Inkless were also great live. Wildflower was awesome live. The band was jamming a bit, and things started getting darker sounding. Their cover of David Bowie's Space Oddity was incredible. X.Y.U. …wow, I haven't seen them do that one live since 1997. Disarm was done in “band” mode, similar to the live arrangement on the Rock Invasion Tour ('93-94). 

Tonite Reprise was the rarity of the night. It was originally included on the triple-vinyl Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and then the Tonight, Tonight single. It led straight into a great rendition of Tonight, Tonight, a favorite of mine. The setlist leaned heavily on Mellon Collie, perhaps because that was the frame of mind Billy was in after prepping the 5 disc beast of a box set coming this December. Bullet With Butterfly Wings actually had a mosh pit. 

A Song For A Son was a welcome return to the set. Teargarden By Kaleidyscope doesn't get enough love. I wish that Spangled was in the set, too. Zero and Cherub Rock rounded out the set.

The encore was incredible. Jeff played the intro to Black Diamond with the violet lights that Paul Stanley uses. Billy sang the first verse, and I was shocked to see Mike Byrne take the lead vocals a la Peter Criss. He did a fine, fine job, and Billy and Jeff strangled the shit out of their guitars during the solos. If you were kid in Detroit in the '70s then Kiss is in your blood. Ava Adore was done in chugging mode, rocking similar to Here Is No Why. Muzzle was a pleasant surprise for the encore. Thank you, Smashing Pumpkins.

I hope that the disappointing turnout doesn't dissuade them from coming back to Detroit. Maybe the Fox Theatre would be a better choice, although I doubt that stage would fit in there. 

Follow my blog on Facebook.


  1. Great review and spot on if I may say so! I was front row/next to the stage for the entire show. No more then 10 ft from Corgan all night. I have to say I was not displeased at all. I too had a dipshit taunting Billy to play the classics as well but I just tuned him out. The new album is the band today and the band does not fail to deliver a stellar performance. I can't wait to see them again after the new album comes late next year! 5 stars!!!

  2. depressing turnout...I wonder why they didn't move the show to a smaller venue

  3. Worse still: That attendance was what you called "papered", a practice that Palace Sports and Entertainment engages in for this venue and DTE Ebergy Music Theatre. Put tickets on sale, and if they don't make X sales, they slash prices. My friend bought Main Floor General Admission for $15 day of show, and Lower Bowl was reduced to $10. I paid $75 but was upgraded to what was originally $125 seats, sitting next to the drunken Yahoo who paid $10 to ruin my evening.

    I felt bad for the band. Billy Corgan deserves better than this. How is is that Pearl Jam and Nine Inch Nails are fondly remembered and people still turn out to see them, but the Pumpkins struggle? They were every bit as commercially successfully, and artistically, even more so.

  4. At least in Pearl Jam's case I think it's about a consistent line-up, not breaking up, being constant Grateful Dead-esque road warriors and I dunno, I think PJ and NIN's catalogue of music is much more homogenous, so they never alienate long-time fans, whereas Billy has always stretched musically and created albums that didn't sound like what came before.

    The last show of theirs I went to was Billy's solo tour for Future Embrace here in LA. It was a medium/small-sized venue with a packed crowd. Jimmy was there and played on one song (DIA). Fun time.

  5. Wow, there must have been quite a run on drunken assholes at that show...I was on the floor and had to run one off that was too drunk to stand straight and kept stumbling backwards into me. He slurred "I'm 38 and I been listening to this band 20 more years than you"...I just laughed in the guy's face as it was quite a compliment at my 46 years of age. Kind of pissed to find that the ticket I bought the day the presale started for $125 was $15 the day of the show, although the show was definitely worth the money.

    And @rift, is your choice of the word "homogenous" an alternative to the word "stale"? Bands have to grow and change, otherwise they're one-trick ponies. Fans do prefer a consistent lineup, but the same sound album after album, even if it's what the fans think they want, is BORING. Billy's a quirky guy, but never boring.