Billy Corgan with Doris Henson at the Carlu, July 2. Tickets: $40-$45. Attendance: 1,500 (sold out). Rating: NN Rating: NN
Somebody should do something about the sound at the Carlu . It's a nice venue, and functional enough, in the way that the Kool Haus and Guvernment are nice and functional. It's certainly a great location, though I could do without the drink ticket system - you know, two stops to get your beverage. Where are we, a beer garden?
But the Carlu's major problem is that every noise seems to bounce off the walls and land flat at the feet of the people onstage in a tinny, fuzzy, distorted mess. It's kind of difficult to know how much of the fault lies with Billy Corgan and company and how much with the actual venue. Things were a bit clearer, it's true, for fresh-faced, messy indie rock boys Doris Henson (from Kansas city, as they reminded us more than once), who are just so cute you wanna make soup out of them.
My distaste for Mr. Corgan's sound has always been personal. When my friend first excitedly introduced me to the Smashing Pumpkins all those years ago, I thought she must be on crack. Corgan's voice acts like a cheese grater on my nerve endings (as does that of Alanis Morissette). I appreciate that some people like him. I just can't figure it out. So, yeah, it's personal.
When he sings about love, as when he covers (as he did this evening) the Bee Gees' To Love Somebody, I have a hard time believing he loves anybody. I know Billy Corgan is capable of love, I just don't feel it from the stage.
At least 20 minutes went by with nary a "Hey, how ya doin'? Thanks for comin' out," though when he did say hey, it was with much professed appreciation and served as sufficient atonement.
He and his band delivered fuzzy - far, far, far too fuzzy - indie rock with prog bits and some very 80s leanings. Some moments brought Soft Cell to mind, albeit a post-grunge, post-industrial Soft Cell from a parallel dimension, and these are certainly proficient musicians, with an engaging rhythm section. But, dammit, dudes. You're boring. Wearing black and posturing is so beyond over it's almost new again. But not quite.
Whoever was in charge of lighting did an absolutely wonderful job and set myriad moods with colour and mosaics, from disco nights to creepy shadows and film noir. Very impressive. But what does it mean when the lights are by far the most sophisticated part of the evening?