The 1998 edition of Smashing Pumpkins is a much different beast than the one that made its name coupling grunge's raw power with art-rock's lofty perfectionism. Turmoil and change have swirled around the group over the past two years. Drummer Jimmy Chamberlain was fired for heroin use after a binge cost the band's tour keyboardist his life. Bandleader Billy Corgan weathered divorce and the death of his mother. Bassist D'Arcy got married.
On a less personal note, Corgan co-wrote songs with ex-flame Courtney Love for the upcoming Hole release, then distanced himself from the project. Guitarist James Iha went teenybopper pop on his debut solo release. And this summer, the band accelerated the expiration of alt-rock package-tour institution Lollapalooza by joining up with the neo-hippie H.O.R.D.E. tour. Now, the heartwarming coda: The Chicago trio is donating all proceeds from ticket sales on its current 13-city tour to charity. (Here in Houston, the money will go to the Houston Children's Fund.)
Ain't superstardom grand?
Meanwhile, Smashing Pumpkins' latest album, Adore, moves even further away from the full-throttle bombast of the past, taking the drum machines and synthesizers of Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness's "1979" and cramming them into a deep, dark hole. While the Pumpkins once slathered on layer upon layer of sonic goo, they now graze in decidedly more acoustic territory, with the guitars providing texture rather than supplying the main thrust. Granted, you can't really dance to it, but that hasn't prevented Corgan from proclaiming Adore the band's "first post-grunge" project.
At a recent show in Australia, the Pumpkins devoted a full hour to the new release, playing only a handful of older tunes, so don't expect to hear much from the group's debut, Gish, or their breakout effort, Siamese Dream. Obviously, Corgan and Company have made the decision to forge fearlessly ahead with their new direction while realizing that no one can hold a Roman candle to Chamberlain's furious, jazz-inspired playing. Highly competent studio vet Kenny Aronoff occupies the drum post in the touring version of the Pumpkins, which also features an additional percussionist and two keyboardists to better approximate the lush studio atmosphere of Adore. Mechanized melodrama aside, that fleshed-out roster ought to provide a decent amount of pure rock spectacle.
-- David Simutis
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Smashing Pumpkins perform Sunday, July 12, at the Aerial Theater at Bayou Place, 520 Texas Avenue. Doors open at 8 p.m. Sold out. 629-3700.
Storyville -- With the double-barreled guitar attack of David Grissom and Dave Holt and the seasoned rhythm section of former Double Trouble-makers Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon, Storyville has already secured its rank as one of the best live acts Texas has produced in years. And that's not even counting virtuoso vocalist Malford Milligan, the band's secret weapon, who elevates the band above and beyond its competition, adding an evocative human warmth to all the instrumental fireworks. Better yet, Storyville's new CD, Dog Years, is a major leap forward in compositional maturity -- which means the band finally has the quality material to equal its unsurpassed live show. On Saturday, July 11, at the Fabulous Satellite Lounge, 3616 Washington Avenue. Doors 8 p.m. Tickets $10. Beth Black opens. 869-COOL. (Michael Point)
Joe Satriani -- The guitar student's guitar hero returns to Houston armed with his well-documented six-string prowess and the lesser-known material off his new release, Crystal Planet. A Satriani show is one of those rare concerts at which it's mostly guys pushing their way to the stage for a glimpse of their idol in action. After all, this is a musician who counts Steve Vai, Kirk Hammett and Larry LaLonde as former students. The successful G3 tours -- which teamed Satriani with the likes of Eric Johnson, Robert Fripp and Vai -- proved there's still a viable audience for serious guitar-based instrumentals. With his warm tone and delicate phrasing, Satriani has always been more interested in music than mugging. Imagine that. At 8 p.m. Monday, July 13, at the Aerial Theater at Bayou Place, 520 Texas Avenue. Tickets $22.50 and $25. The Chris Duarte Group opens. 629-3700. (Bob Ruggiero