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Status: On Haitus
November 20, 1996, 12:00 am    Attitude on Tour

Source: The Atlanta Journal

Arena rock at its best in Smashing Pumpkins
Steve Dollar POP MUSIC CRITIC. The Atlanta Journal the Atlanta Constitution (pre-1997 Fulltext). Atlanta, Ga.: Nov 20, 1996. pg. C.03

If ever a band was born to make arenas shake to the rafters, prompt thousands of teenagers to flick cigarette lighters and hop to every walloping backbeat, it's Smashing Pumpkins.

The Chicago-based band, embarked on the year's major rock tour, has a monolithic, but thoroughly orchestrated sound that moves in huge, dynamic swings. Guitars screech and squall, surge to crescendos, hammer in overdriven staccato riffs, streak like comets, and fatten the shamelessly pop melodies that, more often than not, reveal a satisfying method amid a sonic maelstrom.

Tuesday's show at the Omni, attended by about 15,000 youthful fans, ran the gamut of what the Pumpkins are capable of, with vocalist- guitarist Billy Corgan embodying the bratty soul of adolescent frustration: like a psychic projection of every suburban 15-year-old's bottomless need to vent. Corgan's shaved scalp, gangly frame and signature "ZERO" T-shirt mark him as a professional misfit, and his bawls, rants and screams are an ideal match for the band's Godzilla-sized concept.

Yet, he's also a sophisticate. If much in the Pumpkins' lengthy performance slammed like muscled-up '70s metal (the relentless "Zero," "Bullet With Butterfly Wings"), the music also touches on breathy, lyrical folk pop, may evoke the sentimental piano stylings of Elton John, or defuse explosive volume shifts with acoustic guitars.

On the road supporting its omnibus double CD "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" (Virgin), the Pumpkins made moodiness a virtue. (Even down to the music broadcast after opening act Garbage left the stage: Henryk Gorecki's Third Symphony, known as "The Symphony of Sorrows.") Though the band, and especially Corgan's, attitude brands them as "alternative" ("You can boo us," guitarist James Iha announced early on, when the group first hauled out acoustic guitars, "it wouldn't be the first time. It's OK!"), the songs are the work of a very gifted synthesist who apparently loves old-fashioned song craft. Corgan's particular genius is his discriminating lens on '70s rock. He's inherited the Led Zeppelin/Pink Floyd super-rock vibe, but given it a surprising sincerity. When, on "Disarm," he sings "I used to be a little boy/So old in my shoes," he taps an emotional core that few of his peers articulate so willingly.

Credit: Steve Dollar