The Smashing Pumpkins threw a record release bash last night at the Riveria Theater in their hometown of Chicago on the eve of the release of their exquisite fourth album, Mellon Collie And The Ultimate Sadness, which was broadcast world-wide thanks to The Album Network and Virtually Alternative. And as a result, millions of people were privy to a real life drama when the power went out during the band's third song, plunging the entire theater into darkness. Confounded. Billy Corgan and
bassist D'Arcy made uncomfortable bassist D'Arcy small talk, punctuated by nervous laughter, while D'Arcy threw her guitar picks into the unruly crowd of over 2,000, while Corgan mutter "it figures," blaming the screw-up on "Pumpkin luck."
For ten awkward minutes technicians toiled backstage to reconfigure the power, which they were finally able to do, but not the lights. So when the Pumpkins returned to the stage to perform an emotional, hushed version of "Disarm" from Siamese Dream, they did it in complete darkness. Over the next hour and a half, those same beleaguered techs were able to cast some light on the stage, but never restore the lighting to what it was before the outage. Corgan and crew were said to be visibly upset, but began to recover their momentum during "Through The Eyes Of Ruby," and "Geek USA." Occasionally apologizing to the audience withasides like "Thanks for letting us be out of tune and sing the wrong words for you," and, finally, "We realize it's kind of a fucked evening, but thanks."
From where we sat it was anything but "fucked." The band performed a
memorable mix of old and new--only made more poignant by their dogged determination to overcome the earlier blip. The Smashing Pumpkins seem to thrive in a climate of adversity, and chaos. The only difference is that it's usually of their own making. The ragged but exciting set ended with "Cherub Rock," before the band filed offstage. They returned for two encores ending the show by bringing out their "special guest" show openers, seminal Northern Illinois '70s rockers Cheap Trick for a rendition of "So Long Sayonara."
Before departing, Corgan told the audience, " We'll see you again next year."