Billy Corgan treated Chicagoans to an eight-hour electronic jam on the theme of Siddhartha on Friday. The Smashing Pumpkins frontman held the performance, based on Herman Hesse’s 1922 existentialist novella about a young man’s quest for self-discovery, at his café, Madame ZuZu’s Tea Shop and Art Studio in Highland Park.
Corgan announced the free event through Facebook last week. The performance, he said, “will be centered around an ambient/musical interpretation of Hermann Hesse’s Siddhartha; built by modular synthesis, on the fly. Readings of the text to go hand in hand with whatever is created.”
As shown in the video of the performance, which was live-streamed for those who couldn’t make it out to Madame ZuZu’s, Corgan’s interpretation involves narrated passages of the novella set against a variety of ambient drones and computer bleeps.
According to the Chicago Tribune, a crowd of about 40 had gathered at Madame ZuZu’s before the show started, with a “modest” line out the door. Teashop employees began rotating in customers from the line after the first couple of hours to give everyone a chance.
The Tribune reporter who covered the event, however, was turned away from the show because Corgan took umbrage at another Tribune writer’s article mocking the performance, Poynter reports. “The problem with sipping oolong in a hip suburban teahouse is that it can seem pretentious, but not always pretentious enough,” the Tribune‘s Rex W. Huppke wrote on Thursday.