If All Goes Wrong (DVD)

Smashing Pumpkins

Coming Home Media, 2008


REVIEW BY: Vish Iyer


Billy Corgan, for some, is a pompous musician lolling about in the glory of a few good songs he wrote fifteen years ago. And with the supposed reformation of the Smashing Pumpkins with a puppet bassist-guitarist pair simply to give the appeal of a “complete band,” his stature as a rocker who should have retired eons ago has dropped to a new low with the skeptics.

Corgan, in return, shows the finger and releases a double DVD set, If All Goes Wrong, marking the glory of his band’s 20th anniversary. But his purpose seems more redemptive than anything else on the first DVD, which is a documentary chronicling the days right after the band’s reunion, where they lived and played nine straight days in Asheville, North Carolina and then eleven straight days at the historic Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco, California.

The DVD goes into the dynamics of the new Pumpkins outfit and captures their struggles and battles as a completely novice collaborative. The majority of the documentary is hogged by Corgan, but his attempt to answer the naysayers about the difficulty of being in his shoes is so candid that (if not for the entire length of the documentary than at least for a moment) one cannot help but empathize with this musician who has been so largely misunderstood.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

One can witness Corgan mingle with the crowds on the streets of Asheville or talk about the new band with a bunch of fans waiting outside the Fillmore after one of the shows. Or coax guitarist Jeff Schroeder during a break in the middle of a show when he completely loses his temper on-stage because he is being pushed too hard by Corgan.

The documentary honestly tells the story of how a set-list of completely unknown material is not welcomed favorably by the crowd in San Francisco. Corgan tries to explain his reasoning behind performing a ludicrous set-list consisting of B-sides and unreleased material only (including a track called “Gossamer” that runs about 37-minutes), and throughout this process he is as sincere as he can be.

One realizes that the newly recruited band-members are actual people and not mere robots that Corgan has conjured up from thin air during their heartfelt interviews about how they got recruited into the band and about their relationship with Corgan. Summing up, the DVD is a story of a new band coming together and trying to make it happen, not of a tyrannical rocker of a bygone era trying to rekindle past fame.

In the midst of genuine confessions by Pumpkins fans waiting outside the venues, there are also moments of cringe during interviews with Pete Townshed of The Who and (former Pumpkins bassist) D’Arcy’s ex-husband singing hymns for Corgan, which come across as corny.

The DVD is almost shot like a high-budget indie movie, complete with a plot. Right from the production to the camerawork to the swanky graphics, everything is high-class. The second DVD, too, which is a complete concert from the Fillmore residency (with lots of added bonuses like set rehearsals), looks glossy and pristine; the camera-work is top-notch and immaculate.

Love him or hate him, Corgan seems to be onto something here. Maybe he is trying to make a legitimate effort to document the story of his legitimate struggles to bring his band back. Maybe he simply wants to celebrate himself some more and venerate himself with this DVD. Pretentious or not, he has managed to create another interesting -- if not great -- piece of work.

Rating: A

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2008 Vish Iyer and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Coming Home Media, and is used for informational purposes only.