Corgan finds a new home with Zwan.
Review by Tony BonyataOn their eighth successful all-day concert festival, the people from the popular Chicago alternative rock radio station Q101, have once again brought together some of today's hottest and hippest acts for their Q101 Jamboree festival, making this one of the biggest and best events in the Midwest not to be missed by young music lovers.
Photos by Phil Bonyata
With previous Jamborees featuring such heavy-hitters as the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Stone Temple Pilots, Beck, Moby, Foo Fighters, Garbage and Linkin Park it's no wonder the kids are still flocking in droves to this event. It's the fresh caliber of talent that keeps them coming back, and with one of the festival's strongest lineups this year it's no wonder the huge, sterile confines of the Tweeter Center was bursting with music hungry youngsters as well as a smattering of aging hipsters.
This year's Jamboree consisted of two stages. The second smaller stage featured the rock/hip hop sextet Trik Turner, Unwritten Law, Thursday and Dashboard Confessional that had the crowds ebbing and flowing from the main stage like ants at a summer picnic. While much of the crowd frantically ran back and forth to catch as many of the bands as they could, it was the more popular acts on the main stage, however, that kept many planted in their seats.
With enough unbridled energy to power a small village Hoobastank exploded onto the stage running through a high energy set of numbers from their self-titled debut album. While their onstage antics of baboon's trying to square dance - aping the likes of Linkin Park, Blink 182 and Limp Bizkit - may have helped jump start the crowd, their music, though powerful and expressive enough, lacked any originality and seemed rote for this genre of hard rock.
Enter the first strong act of the day, The Strokes. While the slackly garbed lead singer Julian Casablancas' frozen inanimate stance and deer-in-the-headlights, glazed stare seemed to underscore the band's hopped-up NYC punk-pop - circa '77, it also helped to put the focus on the music, as opposed to the silly primate buffoonery of earlier acts. And the music was definitely something to focus on. Blasting through a vigorous 50-minute set the New York quintet ripped through tight, heart-pounding versions of "The Modern Age," "Last Night," "Soma," Someday" and "Take It or Leave It," while unveiling a few new rockers filled with the same buzzsaw guitars, amphetamine-pumped rhythms and detached Lou Reed "I could give a fuck" attitude that graced their stunning debut. With dingy denims, unruly hair and a musically invigorating set The Strokes showed their young audience that pimples and punk can once again be cool.
While the unfocused attempts at DJ driven hip-hop of the X-Ecutioners was lost on the young white audience, it didn't take long to prick their ears when the two short, fat guys of Tenacious D waddled onto the stage. With just two acoustic guitars along with an outhouse full of scathing humor, Jack Black (the obnoxious but lovable record clerk from the movie Hi Fidelity) and Kyle Gass won the hearts and smiles of their audience with proficient musicianship and raunchy, biting wit. In between songs of psycho fans and telling stories of how hard the road is ("We stayed at the Ritz Carlton and paid $12.99 for a porno movie that didn't even show penetration! Yeah, the road is hard") Black constantly bitch-slapped his bootlicking roadie for a few cheap laughs that worked every time. This may just be a fun-loving novelty act of the day, but with two men able to have thousands eating from their pudgy paws, it's one that deservedly should be around for awhile.
The laughs subsided just in time for hometown hero Billy Corgan to introduce his new band Zwan, consisting of former Smashing Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, bassist Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle) along with guitarists David Pajo (Slint / Papa M) and Matt Sweeney (Skunk / Chavez). This was the band that the masses were there to see. While Zwan made their Chicago debut just a little over a month ago at the tight confines of the Double Door, their performance here helped further separate Billy from his former band. Not that the songs still didn't have a Pumpkins flavor (these still are Billy's compositions remember), but now, even more than their previous Chicago stint, the band seemed to start taking on a much stronger identity of their own. Smiles abound throughout the bandmembers at different stages of their show, hinting that this is probably more than just a passing fancy for Corgan.
Corgan, clad in a dark engineer's hat, lead his band through crystal clear renditions of "Settle Down," "Glorious," complete with a barrage of shimmering guitars, and the emotional, atmospheric number "For Your Love," which saw Corgan tearing into a soulful guitar lead. When he welcomed surprise guest Marianne Faithfull to join them on a drastically reworked cover of Roberta Flack's "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" the trio of guitarists weaved Middle Eastern spiced guitars throughout the number, while Faithfull offered a uniquely raspy vocal delivery that infused more passion than her usual love-it-or-leave-it deadpan style. Two of Zwan's crown jewels were the epic "Jesus I," which saw the band lock into a frenzied, hypnotic jam, and their finale "A New Poetry," a highly textured, introspective number which featured Sweeney's glassy guitar tones and a passionate, gut-spilling vocal delivery from Corgan.
The magic carpet ride of The Pumpkins may finally be over, but as Corgan proved last night, he's back at square one with a potentially great band, standing naked, proud and tall.
As seats started to empty, white-trash rap-rocker Kid Rock ended out the day's festivities. Since photo access wasn't granted to this misplaced headliner, and with the talents of The Strokes, Zwan and Tenacious D to properly fill the bill, we, like so many others, fled the venue to avoid the embarrassment of the future Mr. Pamela Anderson hobbling on his last leg.
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