Houston Calling

Zwan = Rock

April 16th, 2003 · No Comments

There comes a time in every millionaire musician’s life when he or she is faced with what to do next. Luckily for us, former Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan opted to form Zwan.

The band played in Houston on Monday night (4.14.03), and courtesy of a friend who works for Satan (aka Clear Channel Communications), I was able to swindle two free tickets. I took a friend who was a huge fan of Smashing Pumpkins but who also likes the debut Zwan effort, Mary Star of the Sea.

After standing through what was arguably the worst opening band I have ever seen, The Children’s Hour (seriously–a pathetic thing to witness), Zwan took the stage. Billy & Co. opened with “Endless Summer,” a song I assumed would close their show. I quickly found out that most of my assumptions about Zwan were incorrect.

The band was happy. I mean, visibly happy. As an avid reader of music press, I have seen a lot about the rise and fall of the Pumpkins. It was very odd to see Billy Corgan smiling throughout the show. Odd, but great. He interacted with the crowd and with his new bandmates, and seemed genuinely glad to be doing it. Nothing pains me more than to see some new rock pretender acting like they’d rather be on the bus when a roomful of people just paid $20 to see them play.

A highlight of the show was the epic (maybe 13-minute) version of “Jesus, I/ Mary Star of the Sea,” which showcased each of the band members’–guitarists Matt Sweeney and David Pajo (aka Papa M), bassist Paz Lenchantin, and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain–various talents. Quite simply, the band rocked. This show, coupled with the band I saw open on Saturday night at Rudz, completely reaffirmed my love of live music.

Zwan played pretty much their entire CD and threw in some new songs, which were well-received. The rock continued throughout the set, not letting up even during the slower songs. I have listened to the Zwan CD a couple times a week since it was released (yes, it’s that good), and was impressed that the band allowed so much improvisation throughout the set, no doubt Mr. Pajo’s influence. He comes from Slint and Tortoise, well-known for their free-form arrangements.

I have no complaints about the show. I think the relatively mediocre attendance was due in part to high ticket prices and the fact that it was a Monday night.

I wish I could see them again and take my wife, who opted not to go and was unimpressed with the CD. She is a huge fan of the Pumpkin’s Gish album (and hey, with good reason), but I feel she really missed a great show. If you get the chance, see Zwan live. Then get the CD–it’ll make oh-so much better.

Now Playing in my iPOD: Pavement — Slanted & Enchanted: Luxe & Reduxe

Tags: Music