Smashing Pumpkins at Forecastle 2010

By Jason Koerner

The Smashing Pumpkins headlined the 2010 Forecastle Festival on Saturday, July 10. Other notable performers that evening included the likes of Cake and Devo. The fringe benefits of doing this SP review came in the form of seeing Cake cover "War Pigs" by Black Sabbath, and of course, getting to officially claim my place in history as a product of the Eighties by bearing witness to Devo's "Whip It" live. Widespread Panic headlined the three-day event on Friday, while the Flaming Lips closed the show on Sunday.

The new Smashing Pumpkins lineup features Jeff Schroeder on guitar, newest member Nicole Fiorentino on bass and Mike Byrne on drums. At just 20 years old, you could say that Mike is doing pretty well for himself. This of course leaves Billy Corgan, vocals and guitar, as the only original member of the band that began in 1988.

The band opened with the song "Today" from the early album Siamese Dream. Next, Corgan propelled the audience into the future with the new "Astral Planes" and made it quite clear this was not going to be a sing-a-long evening of 100% old material.

The concept of the new "album" is an unusual one, but I like it. The title, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, actually describes what will become eleven EPs, each including four songs on CD and one bonus song on 7" vinyl. It will lastly be complied into one complete box set containing all 44 tracks, as well as some extras, I"m sure. Volume 1: Songs for a Sailor, was released on May 25, and features the above mentioned "Astral Planes"; "A Song for a Son" (performed that night), "Widow Make My Mind," and "A Stitch in Time." The bonus track for the release is "Teargarden Theme." Volume 2: The Solstice Bare, offers the track "Freaks" (also performed that night) so far, with more to come. Did I mention the best part yet? You can download all 44 songs as they are released from the band's official website (www.smashingpumpkins.com) for FREE! Not bad, not bad at all.

The stage was decorated by only two props, which appeared to be giant fans with their blades decorated by one of those "BeDazzler" devices you see on TV on steroids. I have to admit, the lights did reflect nicely off the jewel-laced, flowery-looking backdrops!

Corgan fired up some old tunes throughout the set that pleased the crowd a great deal, such as "Cherub Rock," "Perfect" and "Bullet With Butterfly Wings." The band sounded great, and if you were not a sucker for nostalgia, you would have adjusted to the new "Corgan + 3" lineup no problem.

Billy entertained the crowd with a few well-placed comments as well. At one point he asked, "What do they make here in Kentucky? They told me, bourbon, baseball bats, horses and hot Kentucky women!"

Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness was a great album, and it gave us the closing track of the night, "Tonight, Tonight." The song sounded great, but the fact that it was literally "tonight" by now meant the sun was no longer beating down on us … bonus! The tune was accompanied by the visual stimulation of concert-goers releasing lanterns glowing in the night sky. The encore was "Gossamer," which equated to a fifteen-minute jam session that apparently has gone on much longer in the past. I like me some strong finishes for encores, so it was a bit of an anticlimactic moment for me, but no hard feelings. I respect Corgan's artistic endeavors, so it should have come as no surprise.

It was a terrific show overall. When combined with the slew of activities, bands, booths and events that the Forecastle planners provided, it made for a really great day on the Waterfront … nice job to everyone involved. At the end of the day, I also came out with a souvenir of the event signed by the very talented artist Jeff Gaither, who designed the flyer and artwork for the festival.

If next year's event is anything like this year, it looks like I will be attending the event. I try not to pass up good times.