The B-side: Smashing Pumpkins “In Plainsong”
As the Alcohaul of Records’ resident concert goer, Beau Brooks will be posting reviews of his live music excursions.
Can you feel it? There is an excitement in the air. Punxsutawney Phil knows. Don’t let the snow packed mountains fool you. Winter is over. It was a good run but old man winter finally got winded and decided to take a long needed nap.
Every year, as the seasons change and the temperatures rise, I get the itch. My recurring concert addiction has triggered an insatiable appetite for live music. It’s been a long winter devoid of meaningful concert experiences. Don’t get me wrong, there are concerts that happen during winter that are worth attending, but you generally won’t see me at them unless the “Q/W” ratio is in favor of the band. To those readers not in the know, the Q/W ratio refers to the Quality of said band over the shitty-ness of said Weather. For example, if the Fugees get back together and have a tour stop in Utah during a whiteout blizzard I will be there. If Vanilla Ice has a show during the same storm… not going to happen. I am not saying that it wouldn’t be To the Extreme to witness Rob Van Winkle in all of his midlife glory, but the shitty weather is Ice Ice Baby, too cold, too cold. Lame, I know, but so is shitty weather.
As I write this, The Smashing Pumpkins are wrapping up their 20 show, In Plainsong tour. Those of us fortunate enough to have gotten tickets to one of the small, sold-out venues know how lucky we were and that this was a concert that couldn’t be missed. I understand that it wasn’t every original band member. It did not matter. Billy Corgan has always been the driving force behind the Pumpkins and this tour had him reunited with Jimmy Chamberlain, the original drummer and heartbeat of the band. There was also the hope that James Iha would pop up on stage like he did the two shows prior in L.A.
The show opened promptly at 7:30 with 90’s alt-rocker Liz Phair, alone on the stage with her guitar. She was surprisingly skilled with a clean delivery and an excellent audience rapport. At one point during her set an audience member, whom we can safely assume was a meathead that only came to the concert to impress the woman that he undoubtedly didn’t leave with, blurted out “YOU SUCK!!” To which Liz Phair responded “No I don’t” without skipping a beat. The audience collectively chuckled at the misfortune of the would-be heckler and Liz Phair played on. Her set lasted about an hour and it was definitely an added bonus to the performance we were all patiently waiting to witness.
Sometimes a concert is only as good as the people you go with. The Smashing Pumpkins In Plainsong, an electro-acoustic evening was the exception. Anyone who found themselves there that evening alone would have felt the companionship of the crowd through the driving cohesion of the Pumpkins. From the opening David Bowie cover of “Space Oddity” to the closing encore of The Rolling Stones‘ “Angie”, the crowd sat mesmerized by the ethereal performance of Billy and the band. After the first four songs Billy addressed the audience and announced that the Salt Lake crowd was going to be treated to the songs of Siamese Dream which I was able to record for our posterity.
“So sit back and enjoy the Siamese Suite!” –Billy Corgan
Kingsbury Hall is located on the campus of the University of Utah. It is a relatively intimate venue that holds around 1200.
Kingsbury Hall was built in 1930 and the interior is finished in the art deco style of the same era. The venue even has ushers that wear red coats and hold flashlights. When you walk through one of the three front entrances you are greeted by one of these ushers who then rips your ticket leaving you with a stub. This is a refreshing change of pace from the many concerts I attend where the ticket is simply electronically scanned upon entry. As soon as you enter you will notice that the merchandise booth sits in the breezeway immediately to the right. This is odd as anyone with or without a ticket can access the line for concert merchandise, that is, as long as they brought cash. No debit or credit cards accepted, so bring that money. The main floor has stairways that mirror each other on opposite ends of the foyer. One thing clearly lacking inside Kingsbury Hall is alcohol. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch… just remember, this is Utah and Kingsbury Hall is on the “Dry” campus of the University of Utah. Fortunately for us, we planned ahead and brought the requisite amount of alcohol with us which was delightfully consumed ala tailgate style. The lack of tasty beverages for sale definitely detracts from the ambiance that is generally expected at a concert. With no booze the only outlet for the thirsty concert goer that fails to plan ahead will be found at one of the two drinking fountains. Mmmmm mmmm good! It’s probably a good thing that alcohol isn’t offered because the restrooms create a situation unto themselves. Four restrooms, two men, two women… I can only attest to the lack of space in the men’s restroom which contained two pissers and a stall and that is all. Moving into the theater hall you are again greeted by the redcoats with their flashlights at the ready to show you to your seat. We sat in the Loge on the first row. The Loge is basically the balcony’s balcony and it wraps around the lower, main level seats. With no one in front of us and with the stage below I was able to capture some pretty great footage and photos.
Now that you, the reader, have gotten a little taste of what you missed I understand if you need to take a moment to slap yourself.
I know, I know, you’ll catch them next time….
We left the concert fulfilled and ecstatic that we were able to witness what so many fans didn’t… The Smashing Pumpkins In Plainsong.
So what’s next for the B-side? It’s going to be a full concert/festival schedule the next few months. The next concert up on the docket is the 21st Annual Big Ass Show! A concert put on every year by X96 the preeminent alternative rock radio station of our day. The show’s headliners include Death Cab for Cutie, The Offspring, Awolnation, Nothing but Thieves, and The Strumbellas. Check back next month for my write up, including photos and video.