Saturday afternoon in Los Angeles, Billy Corgan and the latest version of Smashing Pumpkins played a free concert at Space 15 Twenty, a "unique retail setting" (their words) connected to an Urban Outfitters up the street from Hollywood's massive Amoeba Music. Attendees included friends, family and 250 Pumpkins fans who'd pre-ordered the band's upcoming EP, Teargarden by Kaleidyscope, Vol. 1: Songs for a Sailor. The occasion was Record Store Day, but as always Corgan had something else on his mind — namely, telling the world that he has a son.
"You may have seen a recent article on me in Rolling Stone that talked about how I've been affected by not having children," the frontman said near the end of Saturday's show, referring to Brian Hiatt's feature in our March 18th issue. "Well, since then I've found out that I do have a child." Then he welcomed to the stage a kid he introduced as Jason; to protect the boy's privacy, Corgan said, he'd asked Jason to wear a Mexican wrestler's mask. "You're the worst dad in the world!" Jason told the singer, and though we're 99 percent sure this whole thing was a joke, with Corgan you never really know.
When he wasn't playing Daddy, Corgan led the Pumpkins through a 75-minute set split evenly between new stuff and oldies like "Today" and "Bullet with Butterfly Wings." His bandmates were Jeff Schroeder, a relative SP old-timer who's been with the group since 2007; 20-year-old drummer Mike Byrne, who Corgan hired last year after an open audition; and bassist Mark Tulin of the Electric Prunes. "We're teaching Mark the ropes of alternative-rock bass," Corgan said. "It's not far from psychedelic grunge."
For an encore, Corgan took the stage with a ukulele and played a song called "Baby" that he said he'd written for two friends who'd recently given birth to daughters named Talulah. ("They're not mine," he added.) Then he brought out the band again for a long, jammy take on "Ava Adore" in which he proved his point about psychedelic grunge. "We're trying to figure out a tour," Corgan told the crowd before he left. "Until then: heroin and fireworks."