What Ever Happened to the Smashing Pumpkins?

Updated: Apr 12, 2019


Article / I write about the lost magic of a onetime supergroup.


Photograph via rockcellarmagazine.com.

On a warm Monday evening late last year, a crowd of late 20- and early 30-somethings filed into the Barclays Center, the new spaceship of an arena that straddles four trendy Brooklyn neighborhoods. As an electronic billboard glowed in a halo above the entrance, flashing reflections of Geico and Foxwoods advertisements across a panorama of glass doors, the (not quite so) young adults eyed one another, wondering, probably, what kinds of people were showing up to a Smashing Pumpkins concert in 2012.


“Has anyone even heard their new music?” a thirty-something asked her friend, pulling a ticket from a vintage leather purse. “Dude, Billy Corgan’s kinda fat now,” a thin guy in skinny jeans and a flannel shirt said to a guy dressed just like him. “I wanna hear ‘Bullet with Butterfly Wings’!” yelled out a balding man in a trench coat.


For those of us who listened to The Smashing Pumpkins in their salad days—when MTV’s repertoire revolved around music videos, when the underground scene was considered mainstream, when Airwalks were popular—it was a surprise to hear they’d be playing at Barclays. When a friend offered me free tickets to the show, I relived a series of bittersweet teenage memories, then scoured the Internet to find out what happened to the band since ’97, when I graduated middle school. The last time I’d thought about them was 2005, at an Arcade Fire concert with my dad, who kept turning to me in a delirium of burgeoning fandom and yelling, “They’re gonna be even bigger than The Smashing Pumpkins!” The Smashing Pumpkins, really? They were relics of the past, an ephemeral fad.


Read the article in Construction.