I was going to joke that I felt like a “rat in a cage” at Chicago’s Metro on Tuesday, Sept. 20, but that wouldn’t be the right simile. Sure, they’re trapped, but rats have a good amount of room in cages. At least they can move around and see things. No, what I felt was more like a sardine in a can, packed in with more than 1,000 dedicated fans to see The Smashing Pumpkins at a rare performance at one of the band’s hometown’s most storied venues.
Dedicated isn’t paraphrasing either. There were no tickets sold for the rare show, fans had to win them either off of the Chicago alternative rock radio station Q101, through the venue itself, or by somehow ending up on the band’s guest list, otherwise there was no chance of getting in. It’s not like the venue could pack any more people in anyways, it was packed to the gills with fans thrilled to see the Chicago legends in such an up close and intimate setting.
This wasn’t my first time seeing The Smashing Pumpkins, I saw them from the way back of a huge crowd at Riot Fest in 2021, and it’s not my first time being near front Billy Corgan either, as I frequent his suburban vegan restaurant Madame Zuzu’s far too often to admit, but neither of those prepared me for what it’s like seeing the Smashing Pumpkins up close at a venue they’ve played dozens of times throughout their career.
I’m sure even fans who have seen the band countless times could tell that the show at the Metro was something unique, a rare opportunity to see a band who’s arguably reached “icon” status play at one of the venues that they came up in. That doesn’t happen every day. But this show wasn’t just a nostalgia fest. The band ripped through their hits, of course, and they did so impressively. Granted, I’ve only seen the band in the past two years of its career, but it’s hard to imagine that they have ever sounded better live than they did on Tuesday night.
For anyone who wasn’t able to make it out to the Metro, the Smashing Pumpkins are starting their North American “Spirits on Fire” tour with Jane’s Addiction, Poppy and Meg Myers supporting, on Oct. 2 with stops throughout the U.S. and Canada.