We now know that Billy Corgan is kind of an egomaniac, but there was a time before we knew. I’m not naive enough to think there was a time when he was modest and chill, and I’m also not naive enough to think that the level of success that Billy Corgan achieved with Smashing Pumpkins wouldn’t change or accentuate the ego in all of us. When Billy Corgan was on Joe Rogan’s podcast, they talked about what it was like to ride that meteor, and Billy talked about walking into a car dealership in Beverly Hills and paying cash for a Ferrari. He was laughing about it and talking about how stupid it was, but he was definitely not bashful, embarrassed, or apologetic. I’m not saying that he should be, necessarily, but it’s always interesting for me to set the stage on who these rock stars are today. This whole project has the benefit of getting to see the “after” as we go down memory lane to poke and prod what it was like to be in the “before.”
I'm a bit older so I feel lucky that my first exposure to them was the Sub Pop single for The Tristessa. It totally blew me away. This was still months before Gish was to be released so it was the only thing I had from them for awhile. I was fresh out of the Army and had no car and stuck in the suburbs of Cincinnati. When I read they were playing a show a small venue near UC, I begged a friend to drive us down. I ended up being a 'third wheel' to his date. Walking into the venue was surreal. I immediately recognized Greg Dulli, lead singer of the Afghan Whigs at the bar. I felt like I'd snuck my way into a secret rock show. In retrospect it was the best setlist I would ever see them perform:
The Smashing Pumpkins Setlist
at Shorty's Underground, Cincinnati, OH, USA Sept 13, 1990
I Am One
Over the ensuing years I saw them a few times after that, but it was never the same. Corgan has since lost much of his appeal but I still revisit and enjoy those early songs often.