Great Pumpkins

MTV delivers news of an impending Smashing Pumpkins reunion, although it’s not clear if we’re talking a full revival of the band, or a Chinese Democracy-era Guns n’ Roses sorta situation.

Music is very much about time and place – the events of your life associated with a certain moment or feeling. That’s one reason I’m skeptical of the music matching services that try to recommend songs which “sound similar” to the tunes you like.

So what does this have to do with the Pumpkins? Well, one of their shows is among my top five best concerts, because both of its ferocity and my situation at the time.

It was early fall 1996 and the Pumpkins had returned to the road following the drug overdose death of their keyboard player. I was in the midst of a consulting projects, shuttling between Pittsburgh and Philadelphia. The travel had resulted in a feeling of disconnectedness for me – dressing out of a suitcase and heading back to New York City when i could.

Finally in September I just kinda dropped out of the game for 72 hrs. Instead of flying east, I stayed in Pittsburgh one Friday night and scalped a seat to the Smashing Pumpkins playing at the hockey arena. It was a blistering show – loud, angry, defiant. Came back to the Hyatt with my ears ringing and partied with the desk staff once they got off work, which meant i finally got to kiss the dark haired woman who had been checking me in each week.

The next morning I stowed my bags with the bellhop and took a taxi to the airport. Basically picked the next flight going anywhere interesting (Denver in this case) and bought a ticket. Landed, rented a car, checked into a hotel and just spent the next 48 hrs mixing extremely introverted and extroverted behaviors – e.g. drove to Colorado Springs by myself and just read in a park all afternoon (it was chilly but not too bad), met strangers at a LoDo bar and went back to their house until wee hours.

So whether it’s the opening chords of “Zero” or the chorus of “1979” I kinda get taken back to that weird weekend by Billy Corgan and the gang. Which means, yeah, i’ll go see a reunited Pumpkins if they tour in 2006.

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