After Zwan and before reconvening Smashing Pumpkins (2.0), there was Billy Corgan‘s solo project. (And yes, one could definitely make the argument that ultimately all BC-related projects are largely solo efforts.) Whereas Zwan was often considered SP-lite or the “happy” SP, there’s no confusing Corgan’s solo project and album with anything in the Smashing Pumpkins canon.
This result of this solo project was 2005’s TheFutureEmbrace. As the title indicates, Billy looking ahead musically and sonically. It’s interesting because it doesn’t simply sound electronic but digital. While I do like the album, I personally think that the concept of what Billy was going for with it was more successful than the actual product. With the rate of technological change we’re living in, it’s easy to date oneself, making music that quickly becomes irrelevant as the sonic landscape changes. This is something Radiohead excels at – I don’t listen to any of their albums and think Oh, that’s so 2003. Whereas now, when listening to TheFutureEmbrace, I feel like it’s a few years (at times decades) ago. That said, I do like the album.
Naturally, I caught a show on 2005’s Future Embrace Tour at Chicago’s Vic Theatre. The below video is from that two-night stand (not sure which night; I attended the first one I believe). Smashing Pumpkins fans will notice that Corgan maintains his “female quota,” this time with Linda Strawberry. (Zwan and all incarnations of Smashing Pumpkins include a female bassist – the latter is currently on its fourth – and that doesn’t change here even though his solo band lacked bass.) I think the music alone is more effective on record than live – partially because of the visual factor – but I had a great time nonetheless. Because of the album’s focus on digital sounds, Billy didn’t want traditional rock instrumentation for the live show. It was all synthesizers and electric guitar. Therefore watching the musicians was (and, in this video, is) at times a little jarring. But the digital backdrop coupled with the otherwise minimalist staging was quite intriguing. If nothing else, I think Ron Johnson would have approved.
It seems like I’m hedging, but I did have a wonderful time at the concert and enjoyed the album. It just wasn’t anything like Zwan (discussed here) or anything SP-related. Also, it was around this time that Corgan started to hint at wanting to resurrect Smashing Pumpkins, and during the final song at this show he played that trademark guitar lick from “Today” as a musical tease. The below video is of “All Things Change,” the album’s opening number.
*Warning: This video may load slowly.*