A quick story on the concerts and things I’ve done for The Smashing Pumpkins, my favorite band in the world.
Siamese Dream Era
I think it was Disarm the very first Smashing Pumpkins song I heard in my life, some time around 1993 or 1994 in a local music video channel in Monterrey. Unfortunatelly they had the bad habit of not showing the song or band name in most of the videos, so it was until 1995 that I saw again that guy in silver pants in the BWBW video that I realized who that band was and simply fell for them, altough there was Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden etc. leading the grunge alternative movement at that time.
I remember asking my mother for some extra money, since Mellon Collie and The Infinite Sadness was a double album (the best-selling double album of the 90’s) and it evidently costed more than what a 15 year-old could afford. I maybe heard BWBW and 1979 like one million times before ever listening to any other songs in the record. Needless to say the influence it was for me in my writing, and later musically, when I started to self-learn guitar when my mother gave me one as present at 16.
Around those days I started high school and as any die-hard-fan to be I obviously used to wear my ZERO t-shirt a lot. I remember getting to school in the morning and sometimes three guys stared at me, my paranoia told me they were jealous because I had that shirt and they didn’t. Never confirmed that theory actually, eventhough one of them is my best friend to date, Daniel, but at that moment it was more important knowing that I was not alone. Yes, in case you hadn’t noticed, we grunge/alternative people are the predecessors of Emos.
It was until 1998 that I could have the chance of attending a concert of theirs in Mexico City for the Adore tour. It was perfect, round bus trip, ticket, some meal for a very affordable price. Daniel for some reasons that I cannot remember couldn’t attend, so it was up to me to buy the tour deal and get into a bus with unknown people and have probably the best experience in my life up to that point. I still regret being afraid of going alone and missing the show.
Around the year 2000 the Pumkpins released a long awaited album, “Machina: The Machines of God”. Along with it, I started putting together what I called “The Awaited Tribute to The Smashing Pumpkins” (I confess I took the name from a Depeche Mode tribute album) at Café Iguana, a rock sanctuary in Monterrey. We did huge promotion, a very good friend of mine designed the posters, flyers, emails, etc. There was something lovely about that tribute, we gathered an army of fans through ICQ initially and then people just keep inviting friends and friends until suddenly we became some Fight Club kind of thing. We would wear SP shirts and go to any place where there was people, music, record stores, radio and TV rock shows, just spreading the word for what ultimatelly became something bigger than the tribute itself… we founded the Everlasting Pumpkinfans.
Anyway, the show sucked and it hurts more because the place was sold-out, around 350+ people according to the administrators of the bar. The performance was terrible because of lack of commitment of the other bands, and to be honest my band itself was not that good for such a responsability, I singed worse than I do now, etc, etc, etc. I think there were some people that liked it, but just because it was something never done before and there were too many emotions in the atmosphere that day. Still today I feel I owe a really good gig to that place.
But we had created something, the yahoo e-group got to over 120 members only in Monterrey (there was no Facebook at that time) and we got in contact with other network fans in Mexico City and Guadalajara. We once had a “national meeting” with over 40 people at Farias’ house, just singing SP all night long, talking, drinking, sharing toughts, song meanings, OUR meanings, which were the most important. I used to say that Monterrey was home of the world-wide famous “Pumpkin Pedas” (Pumpkin Parties with lots of alcohol… yes we’re geeks). This was later proved as we got in touch with other fans in Chile and Argentina, and I’m not kidding, they knew about our parties!
Finally on May 13th 2000 I attended my first Smashing Pumpkins concert at Aerial Theater in Houston, Texas (Verizon Theater nowadays in Texas Av.), three days after my 20th b-day, how can I forget. After the show my aunt who was hosting me went to pick me up and it was her who offered to wait a bit while I went to the back door to see if I could see the band.
The bus was parked in the middle of a street, while the sidewalks were blocked with barricades. Jimmy was the first to come out, I have his autograph inside my “Aeroplane Flies High” B-Sides Box Set in my mother’s house in Monterrey. James was next, he just came to hi five us. Melissa went directly into the bus and didn’t came out after.
Billy came also to the barricade, he didn’t gave out any autographs (which I later got by asking my friend Tagino to attend an autograph day at Barnes and Nobles in DC when Billy published his book Blinking With Fists in 2004), nor approached anyone else, but me. It was the first time that I shook hands with him and the first time I had to ask him to please come to México. 10 days later, May 23rd, Billy announced in LA that the band was splitting up. I was lucky to see them.
Zwan & BC Solo Era
On April 2004 I went again to Houston to see Zwan, Billy’s project after SP and his solo project in Dallas in 2005.
In 2006 he called for a Smashing Pumpkins’ reunion and we got to see them on the Zeitgeist Tour in Tucson Arizona in September and Dallas Tx in November 2007. It was Dallas when I got to talk to him again and of course repeat my “Go to México” request. I was with my friend Daniel and he took the time to talk to us and explain to us about the costs of putting up a single concert, etc, etc.
But he had something prepared for us, because a few weeks later, the Smashing Pumpkins announced a Latin America Tour, initially with only Mexico City scheduled for April 12th 2008. Weeks after, dates for Guadalajara and Monterrey were announced for April 14th and 16th respectively. I remember going to the Mexico concert and coming back to Monterrey on Sunday the 15th, I was so excited so I looked for tickets for Guadalajara and traveled Monday morning there. I called my boss to tell him I decided to skip work Monday and Tuesday to attend the show, he was so pissed off!
I came back on Tuesday afternoon directly from the airport to the Camino Real Hotel in Monterrey. A friend of ours working in a local newspaper had interviewed Billy in his hotel room and told us they were staying there. We were like 10-12 fans and friends waiting for around 2 hours until Billy finally came down to the bar to us. I remember he said “Let’s make a deal, I give you an autograph and a picture and you leave me alone!!!” … we agreed (I love his sense of humor). I had his autograph already so I exchanged that for a few words where I reminded him the couple of times we had met before (he said he remembered the Dallas one) and gave him a letter that I wrote and had been carrying around hoping to give it to him in any of the three cities.
The Monterrey show next day was special, it was what we have been always waiting for, the Everlasting Pumpkin Fans closing a beautiful cycle and time in our lives. I cannot even describe the feelings in each of the songs they played, I just tried to relax, enjoy and sing along with the rest of my friends there. There was a point in which he approached and played a solo in front of us, I guess he does recognizes his stalkers (I mean, fans!) very well.
There is a phrase in one of the Oasis songs that says “Please don’t put your life in the hands or a rock & roll band, they’ll throw it all away”…… and maybe they are right, but whatever means or reasons brought us together, I can say its been a rocking fuckin’ amazing journey. And by the way, how I got those first row seats? A friend of ours got them for us by hacking into the tickets website. Remember we are a kind of Fight Club!