Drinking Mercury

“Do you know Smashing Pumpkins are coming to Boston?”

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My best friend Adam and I had been watching music videos at the time, and, as a matter of fact, I didn’t even know The Smashing Pumpkins were back together, let alone touring. I rely purely on other people for any updates on entertainment or pop culture, so if I haven’t been explicitly told about something, I likely had no idea. Adam specifically keeps me from being completely out of the loop about these sorts of things. But I digress.

He suggested that we do something completely out of my comfort zone: going out among other human beings in a semi-social setting for a few hours to see them in concert. Anyway, his girlfriend, sister, and another friend of his didn’t really want to go, and there’s nothing more validating to your self-worth than being your best friend’s dead last choice to hang out with. I was sold!

“This song brings me back to when I was 13 and hated life,” I said when Bullet with Butterfly Wings came on. Not that I don’t still hate life, of course, but your reasons are different when you’re 36. At 13, the world really is a fucking vampire. (Sent to drai-ai-ain~ Now it’s stuck in your heads. You’re welcome.)

“I was nine.”

I hate him.

Luckily, I had a couple of months to let my rage subside before we ended up going to the show. Unluckily, a whole lot of shit went down between point A and point B. Despite a few high points, including an epic Pixies/Weezer show two weeks prior, I was dragging myself through the end of July. I needed to claw my way out of the shithole I was in for a couple of hours of freedom (kind of like how Billy Corgan managed to escape his captors in the Solara video I recently posted!). This was like a little ray of sunshine I clung to every single day and, by Tuesday morning, I had reached epic levels of hype. How hyped was I?

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So hyped.

We had timed our arrival such that we’d miss the opening act and get to our seats right before the Pumpkins took the stage. Much to my surprise, there was a large number of empty seats in our nosebleed section. My friend Desiree had, in contrast, been unable to attend the South Florida show a few nights earlier because it’d been completely sold out. Either Bostonians aren’t as into 90’s rock bands as I’d expected, or there were some other shenanigans at play; when I’d bought the tickets, it seemed that the seats I picked out were among the last ones available through TicketMaster. Strange. But we weren’t complaining; it meant that we got to sit wherever we wanted.

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I managed to take this pre-concert selfie before Adam relocated himself. Don’t be concerned, friends; he wasn’t about to murder me. That’s just what his face looks like.

Hm. On second thought, he may have considered murdering me at that moment, actually. It’s so hard to tell with him.

The lights dimmed, saving me from my untimely demise. The show started off with an animated sequence that went through all of the band’s cover art, culminating in the now-adult women who were once the little girls on the cover of Siamese Dream setting a giant heart insignia on fire. Billy Corgan entered the stage shortly thereafter, a moment I captured on video here:

My commentary is, as always, informative. If you’re wondering what best friendo and I were talking about: During pregame, we had a discussion about what Billy Corgan was going to wear. Adam guessed a black dress, and I thought he was going to wear something along the lines of silvery pants and a long cloak or something equally as ridiculous. I’m sorry to report that, even with several costume changes, Billy never met my fashion expectations.

They opened up with Billy playing Disarm while defaced childhood photos of himself were projected behind him. He is very, very into himself. Being the enabler that I am, I overlooked all of the pretentiousness (for the most part) and let myself just be there – which is exactly what I needed. Though I am sorry for anyone who happened to be in earshot of my horrific singing voice.

The entire show focused on the band’s first five albums, and roughly half of the set list came from Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness and Siamese Dream in particular. In addition to their own work, the band performed some epic cover songs, including Stairway to Heaven by Led Zepplin, Landslide by Fleetwood Mac, and Space Oddity by David Bowie.

Let it be known that I am a sacrilegious person who enjoyed Oceania, and my favorite song is off that album, but there wasn’t a single song the Pumpkins played that night that I wasn’t 100% into. Ava Adore. Cherub Rock. Tonight Tonight. Today. 1979. For Martha. Bullet with Butterfly Wings. Try, Try, Try. Blew Away. I could go on; they played 31 songs, total. Though I’ll only admit it here, to you internet strangers, that I didn’t recognize Mayonaise at first because they played a minute of something else before actually starting. And that song is my jam, people. I have wept to this song in the car in the middle of traffic. (This isn’t unusual behavior for me; music makes me cry a lot more often than I will ever admit to anybody.) I am the worst.

The set was broken up by short interludes, two by Mark McGrath, of all people, as kind of a circus ringleader. That, I did not expect. The first one, though, was of Corgan himself channeling Julius Caesar to introduce Zero, one of my personal favorites. They followed up with Everlasting Gaze, which I thought was a bold choice because I compare the codas of both songs all the time and think that the latter is a little awkward. Having said that, I was curious to see how it’d play out on stage, and Billy did not disappoint.

“You can do it, B!”

The band played for about three hours, which sounds like an excessive amount of time, and I fully expected to be ready to head out a few songs shy of the end. When Adam mentioned that they were about wrapping up, though, I couldn’t believe that all that time had already gone by. It felt like we’d just gotten there. And friends? I was not ready for it to be over.

Such is life, though. Just as nothing bad lasts forever, neither does anything good.

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We caught the 12:15am train back to Lowell, and I probably stumbled back to my house at 1:30am or thereabouts. I lived the teenage dream and slept until after 3:00pm the next day.

My overall thoughts: This show was fan-fucking-tastic. If you are at all unsure whether you want to see them, yourself, just do it. I didn’t expect to enjoy the show as much as I did. I do like hearing more banter, and I sort of forgot that Jimmy was even there, because Billy just loves himself the spotlight. Having said that, everyone sounded great, the visuals were interesting, and I didn’t really mind side show Sugar Ray. I am impressed that, despite playing such long shows back-to-back on tour, the band didn’t sound like a tired parody of themselves. On a personal level, I was relieved to have been able to ignore my depression for a couple of hours, and it’s always good to hang out with the bestie.

I just wish I still had something to be hyped about.


Make sure to follow your new favorite Billy Corgan cosplayer at The Paper Clown or @AdamSwierk, and if you aren’t already following me here or @Apostrophe_T, what gives, man?!

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