by Kelly Fahey
Saturday’s crowd at Glenwood Coffee & Books had me pinned up against the garage door in the back corner of their warehouse-like show space, my vision limited to Owen Burd as he strummed the powerful first chord of the song “Cherub Rock.”
The song hit me like a bucket of cold water to the face. It sounded just as good as anyone, save for maybe the Smashing Pumpkins themselves, could have played it.
Rocket, Greensboro’s quasi super group that formed just for the occasion, carried on the Halloween cover-show tradition by playing the Smashing Pumpkins’ Siamese Dream, an album that clearly means a hell of a lot to them. The enthusiasm of the crowd was comparable to an actual Smashing Pumpkins show, with eager fans singing every word of each song.
The idea was the brainchild of the Bronzed Chorus’ Adam Joyce, who made the obvious choice to team up with bandmate Hunter Allen for the project. They then contacted Owen Burd of Xelos Verv to assume the role of Billy Corgan on vocals and lead guitar, and then Kate Weigand to play bass.
After hatching the idea for the project in April, they practiced the songs once a week until the performance.
“We all like that album an insane amount, and we’ve all known each other for years,” Weigand said. “We didn’t consider anyone else for the project. It was either going to be us or we weren’t going to do it.”
Their compatibility came easily due to the fact that they have collaborated before.
“Working with the Bronzed Chorus is as natural as it comes,” Burd said. “I was in a band with Hunter for years in the midst of the early 2000s and he is my all-time favorite drummer on top of that.”
Burd and Weigand also collaborate in the band Lebaron, a project that is still in the infancy stage but seems very promising.
Weigand even put away her bass guitar and picked up a cello, the instrument on which she first began to learn the seminal ’90s band’s songs, to play “Spaceboy,”
“When I was in high school I was much more focused on orchestra, but I began to listen to the Smashing Pumpkins and play along on the cello,” Weigand said.
While Joyce, Allen and Weigand were the backbone of the performance, Burd’s performance on vocals and lead guitar was decidedly the main attraction. This became evident during an incredible guitar solo on the song “Soma,” a spacey and atmospheric song that explodes into sheer shoegaze madness about three minutes in.
“The solo in ‘Soma’was particularly challenging compared to the rest of the record,” Burd said, who recreated the intricate riffs seamlessly.
The show on Nov. 1 was the last of three that Rocket played, wrapping up a short in-state tour that included a set in Raleigh on Thursday and Durham on Halloween night. Although Rocket was received well at each show, Weigand claims that the energy at Glenwood Coffee & Books last weekend was the highest. She was surprised by how enthusiastic the crowd was.
“I wasn’t prepared to reach people on such a personal level,” Weigland said. “This music brings back a lot of memories for people.”
Black Santa, performing under the moniker Cowboy Dan, kicked off the festivities by playing a set comprised of early Modest Mouse songs. Fan favorites such as “Cowboy Dan,” “Interstate 8” and “Doin’ the Cockroach” were played with such ferocity that bassist Spencer Auten snapped a string halfway through a song..
The night ended with an epic rendition of the Smashing Pumpkin’s “Silverf**k”, which was easily the crowd’s favorite. The crowd begged for an encore for a few minutes, to no avail.
“I knew people were excited about the show,” Weigand said, “but I wasn’t quite ready to see people react the way they did. They were acting like they were seeing the Pumpkins back in 1993.”