"Pumpkins Rock Youthful Fort Wayne Crowd into Submission"
Show review of the October 30, 1996 show
Fort Wayne, IN
"I was listening to the Pumpkins before half these kids were born," exclaimed an IU Sophomore, as he gazed amazingly at the youthful crowd. The tone for the Smashing Pumpkins Fort Wayne performance had been set before any performer hit the stage. Amidst flying toilet paper rolls and beach balls, the crowd pronounced that October 30th would be the night of the teeny bopper. The Smashing Pumpkins and opening act Garbage seemed willing to oblige, if not indifferent to teenage angst after months of touring. The concert was originally scheduled for July 17th, but the Pumpkins were sidetracked by a personal crisis. A band with many demons finally found its way to hell on July 12th, when keyboardist Jonathan Melvoin died of a heroin overdose and original drummer Jimmy Chamberlain was arrested for heroin possession. Realizing that Chamberlain's perpetual drug problem could undermine the band's very foundation, the Smashing Pumpkins severed their ties with him a few days after the tragedy. After postponing 22 tour dates between July 12th and August 25th, the Pumpkins re-emerged on August 27th with a new outlook and a new cast. Dennis Flemion of The Frogs and Matt Walker of Filter have assumed the roles of touring keyboardist and drummer respectively. Flemion is said to bring light-mindedness to the tour with his antics, while Walker is the ultimate professional.
Garbage opened the show with a bang, bringing its high tech sound to new heights. The crowd exulted as sultry Shirley Manson and co. played songs like "Stupid Girl" and "Only Happy When It Rains." The crowd's concert inexperience certainly showed, as it exhausted itself during an opening act. Garbage's set ran for 45 minutes, and was foll owed by a half-hour Pumpkin wait. During this time, it became apparent to me and my fellow IU Pumpkin heads that the General Admission floor area was tremendously overcrowded.
The youthful ignorance of the crowd only magnified the problem. Many fans wondered if the 4-foot tall alternative kids could handle the crush which accompanies fast paced riffs. Honestly, did they come to see the Pumpkins or Picture Pages? For the grizzled concert goer, the sound of "Mom, pick me up at 10:30" was both spine-tingling and disturbing.
The Pumpkins took the stage at 8:50, under a guise of darkness. With flashing white lights, frontman Billy Corgan jammed on his stars & stripes guitar for 30 seconds (much to the delight of the crowd). The group subsequently went into "Where Boys Fear to Tread" and "Zero," two of the heaviest songs off their latest album, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness." To calm down the so-called "sweaty masses" (a Corgan phrase), the Pumpkins played "To Forgive," one of their most moving songs. Unfortunately, this set list choice did not exactly lull the crowd to sleep. The kids did not know when to calm down -- I began to think that they would jump up and scream if Barry Manilow were on stage. Hits like "Today," "Disarm," "Cherub Rock," "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," and "Tonight Tonight" did not solve the problem, as real fans found themselves in the worst possible scenario. Thankfully, we were treated to an incredible rendition of "Thru the Eyes of Ruby" and a rare performance of "Drown," which hails from the Singles soundtrack. Billy called this soundtrack "the beginning of the grunge movement." Alluding to the song as if no one had ever heard it, few fans picked up on Corgan's sarcasm.
Other highlights of the evening included a comical presentation of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" and a half-hour long rendition of "Silverfuck" to end the evening. Billy played the classic Iron Butterfly song while guitarist James Iha took the "mic" in a comical attempt to get the crowd going. "I know you people can get funky," he exclaimed as Billy tried to keep himself from breaking out in laughter. There were meager attempts at moshing during "Silverfuck," as poser fans bumped into one another and security guards stepped in to stop what they had failed to do. "1979" brought the crowds idiocy to a new level as 13-year old girls screamed "Billy, I love you!" through the entire song. The performance was salvaged by the guest appearance of Jimmy Frog, who was adorned with green wings and his "Halloween happens 365 times a year" face. Basically, the Pumpkins rocked and the crowd was "garbage." Capturing the disappointment of the evening, an IU sophomore said, "This is what a New Kids concert would've been like 8 years ago."
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