Billy Corgan Prepares To Test That “1000 True Fans” Hypothesis By Alienating A Huge Chunk Of His Audience

noah | November 7, 2008 1:00 am

A concert that ends with the performer trying to connect with this audience by wondering aloud, as they might, “Did I pay for this shit?” is probably a show that’s beset with problems. So it was with the Smashing Pumpkins’ show in New York City last night, Billy Corgan et al‘s first performance in the NYC metro area in nine (!) years, which ended with Corgan baiting the audience with that very taunt, according to Matthew Perpetua, who was in the United Palace audience last night. There were also “at least 40 minutes of formless prog-metal dirges and artless, atonal drones,” and lousy setlists that eschewed the depths of the Pumpkins’ catalog in favor of the track from the trailer for The Watchmen and other new songs. (Also, he wore a “Zero” shirt but didn’t play the song in question, which just seems cruel, you know?)

Now, it’s bad enough to subject your audience to about 40 minutes of abrasive, deliberately off-putting music, but it’s even more uncool to come back for an encore that mocks them for not being 100% with you, and feeling disappointed for not hearing more of what they expected to hear from a show billed as a 20th anniversary concert. In conventional show biz logic, if you’re going to go that far, you should at least leave the audience with a crowd-pleaser. In Billy Corgan logic, you come out and perform one of the lesser songs from your best-selling album, and then finish off with a song that mixes disingenuous hippy-dippy “everyone is beautiful!” lyrics with improvised sarcastic rants that outright diss the city you’re playing in, mock the fans for paying to see your band, and tell your visibly disappointed audience that you’ll see them in hell. It was full-on douche-tastic passive-aggression. It’s as if he set out to do this heel turn, and purposefully alienate as much of the audience as possible. Well, it worked. Believe me, unless you’ve witnessed other shows on this tour, it’s unlikely you’ve seen a more defeated audience exit from a rock show.

Sure, tonight’s show apparently has a different, better set list. But one can’t help but wonder what’s going on. The only explanation is the heel-turn idea outlined by Perpetua, and really, it seems kinda logical: Corgan’s fetishization of wrestling has resulted in him going all Hollywood on his fans… but they shouldn’t worry, since the next five years will consist of him realizing his transgressions and redeeming himself just in time for a 25th anniversary tour. (After all, anniversaries with precious-metal associations are so much more profitable!)

One Last Trip To Hell [Fluxblog]