Smashing Pumpkins Rock Cincinnati – Review and Photos
s I hurriedly walked through the hall on the first day of my junior year of high school, an iron-on Smashing Pumpkins patch was proudly displayed on my LL Bean book bag. At a school that required uniforms, the book bag was prime real estate for personal expression. The type of book bag, the pins, patches, or band logos poorly sharpied onto them were a window into our personalities. While filing into English class, a fellow student named Matt, who would become a life-long friend, noticed my Pumpkins patch and immediately started talking about how big of a fan he is and that he even has a Spaceboy costume.
the concert was off. I had to sell my ticket and never got to see The Smashing Pumpkins.
The following summer brought the Horde festival to Cincinnati. As excited as I was to see Blues Traveler and Government Mule, the biggest pull for me was The Smashing Pumpkins. Matt and I bought tickets and had everything all planned out. He would spend the night at my house the night before, and then we would get up and go spend the whole day at the festival. Needless to say, we were stoked! But it wasn’t meant to be. My dad woke up late at night and found me and a handful of other teenagers smoking pot on the back porch, the concert was off. I had to sell my ticket and never got to see The Smashing Pumpkins.
That is, until September 5, 2023 at PNC Pavilion in Cincinnati. After more than 25 years, I was strolling through the beer lines and merch booths, waiting for one of my first favorite bands to start when I got a text. It was Matt, jokingly telling me if I wasn’t at the show we couldn’t be friends anymore. How dumb of me?! I didn’t even think to ask if he was going. We met up and briefly got to hang out for a bit before we heard the crowd cheer and the music start and we ran eagerly off to our respective seats.
I was a huge fan of their first four albums, but, I didn’t know the first few songs. They were heavy and dark – which are the best words I can think to describe the 3rd song – a barely recognizable cover of Talking Heads’ Once in a Lifetime.
Then came the iconic guitar intro of ‘Today’ and the 15-year-old me woke up. I loved the melodic and even soft side of Billy Corgan. Whir, Mayonaise, Rhinoceros, thirty-three all come quickly to mind. But it seemed the band (and I think we all know who makes the decisions) was set on playing a full on hard rock show. A night full of heavily distorted guitar and monster solos.
Matt and I texted a few times the next day about the show. We seemed to agree that the newer material was just a bit too metal influenced. To each his own, but it was a reminder that as we got older the music became less melodic and more thrashing guitar with screaming vocals. And as I got older I lost the teenage angst that originally pulled me into the band.
I’ve never stopped loving those albums and those songs and I haven’t stopped listening to them ever since the show. Thank you to the band for breathing life back into them for me!