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Screaming like Yoko Ono
June 19, 1994, 11:00 pm

Source: Chicago Tribune

Greg Kot, Tribune Rock Critic.. Chicago Tribune (pre-1997 Fulltext). Chicago, Ill.: Jun 20, 1994. pg. 10

How do members of a best-selling band blow off steam? They sit around with friends and play music with no expectations, no rules, just for fun.

That the music itself is often nothing special is almost beside the point. In that spirit, the performance by the Star Children at the Double Door on Saturday was of interest not so much for what was played (mediocre new-wave covers, meandering blues jams, even "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town") but who was playing it.

The Star Children is a side project for three-quarters of the Lollapalooza-bound Smashing Pumpkins-guitarists Billy Corgan and James Iha and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin-and a pal from the local band Catherine, guitarist Mark Rew. According to Rew, this was the aggregation's third performance ever, and it showed.

If some members of the audience got restless because no Smashing Pumpkins songs were performed, they at least could console themselves knowing that the cover was only $5 and they were checking out a prime piece of new real estate in the cradle of rock 'n' roll as we know it, Wicker Park. (The Double Door was built with the listener in mind: good sight lines and sound, and plenty of room.)

There also was the opportunity to watch Corgan, Iha and Chamberlin trading instruments, butchering Cure and Gary Numan songs, and generally acting silly; the Pumpkins' take-no-prisoners approach had the night off.

"It's awful nice not to be the angry spokesman for youth," Corgan said. "Tonight, I'll be playing the role of a well-adjusted 27-year-old."

The singer's cameo with opening band the Frogs was almost as self-deprecating. "If you take my picture, your camera's smashed/ If you write me fan mail, I won't write back," he sang. "Don't ya love the star?"

And ya had to smile. Then there was the normally taciturn Iha working the crowd like a hip-hop emcee and screaming, Yoko Ono-style, during a deconstruction of "Give Peace a Chance."

The Smashing Pumpkins a bunch of brooding rock stars? Not on this night.

Credit: Greg Kot