The End Times Tour
Smashing Pumpkins / Marilyn Manson
Sunday, July 26. 2015
Red Hat Amphitheater, Downtown Raleigh —
I pulled into a parking garage near Red Hat Amphitheater on Sunday night in downtown Raleigh (or DTR if you’re nasty) with the entire RDU Music staff in tow. I was hungover from a party in Clayton the night before (don’t ask) but I was honestly giddy for the prospect of seeing two bands who played such integral parts of my teenhood. I was also more than a little excited to lambaste whatever embarrassing dreck was slated to open for these rock legends.
We were initially greeted by soapboxing Christians on the streetcorner, deriding our evening’s choice of entertainment. The ringleader has easily been to more Marilyn Manson concerts than I have but it is safe to assume that the irony is lost on such a creature. His congregation of holy helpers consisted of impressionable teen girls who handed out literature that I’m sure was fascinating and life-changing. I had to remind myself that I wasn’t allowed to physically touch the paper for it would have surely meant my fiery demise so I just kept my head down, avoided eye contact, and murmured a few Hail Satans for protection until I was safely inside the den of iniquity, ready to commence the hedonistic Bacchanalia.
As I was Googling the opener, Cage, I was hoping it would be nouveau shamanic grinding hardcore unit, Cage. Sadly, we were greeted by indie hip hop “artist”, Cage who apparently forgot what year it was. I understand that most people bought tickets to Smashing Pumpkins / Marilyn Manson for the nostalgia factor, but even Billy and Brian want to forget the rap-rock segment of the 90s. Cage, oddly enough, wanted to embrace it. The crowd simply wanted to cram rusty screwdrivers into their ears after enduring 20 minutes of his performance.
Most up-and-coming bands think that opening for established acts will boost record sales. Cage forgot one integral aspect of that philosophy: Don’t be the aural equivalent of a coat-hanger abortion. RDU Music’s own Senior Indie Correspondent, Shameburger, had this to say of Cage: “He is the 9/11 of rap-rock.” He also contributed this apt description of his sound: “It’s like Crazy Town and Sleigh Bells had a baby. Then pooped on it.”
Cage adopted the, “Fuck you, IDGAF. I’m a social outcast,” shtick and beat it into the ground in the first 5 minutes of the “performance”. I had a hard time annotating my vitriol for the most recent “outrageous” thing he said before he would say something even more “edgy” and embarrassing.
“I murder millions and millions of Chinese dogs.”
“Anyone here been arrested for stalking?”
Sorry, Cage. You’re not punk, and I’m telling everyone.
To end the set, he dropped the mic like a petulant child and stormed off. The collective apathy in the air was palpable. The PA guy then graciously queued up Slayer’s “Spill the Blood” in the hopes that we could all move on with our lives and forget the last 20 minutes. Sadly, I was not afforded that luxury. I was honor-bound by my role as Editor In Chief of RDU Music to complain about Cage on the internet later, so I was forced to commit his set to memory. Needless to say, it will haunt my dreams. And not in a good way like some of the more attractive Goth ladies in the crowd. Cage’s legacy in my mind will be more like the time I forgot to turn off my flash at the food court.
1/5 stars – *Fart noise*
The last time I saw Marilyn Manson was just as the 90s were winding down. I remember a young kid, no more than 12, gothed out to the max, fresh out of Hot Topic, sitting next to his dad. The father was in hell. He was wearing earplugs and a grimace with his arms folded angrily to his chest. Certain people in our section blew weed smoke at him for about an hour while Twiggy ran to the side of the stage to vomit after every third song. The 90s sure were a simpler time.
This year though, and maybe I’m just getting sentimental as I age, but it was nice to see parents bonding with their kids over rock’n’roll. My hat goes off to the mother/daughter combo to our right. The daughter was singing along to all the songs, having the time of her young life while her mom seemed to grasp the concept that Manson lyrics weren’t going to turn her precious little angel into a deviant serial killer. (But they might have played a factor in *gasp* dyeing her hair black.)
Manson was nothing but a consummate showman. He kept the stage banter to a minimum and focused on rocking. I do have to wonder how he felt about playing “Sweet Dreams” for the X millionth time though. Either way, I was pleasantly surprised by his choice of “Coma White” as the closer. He went with one of his more artsy and depressing tracks as opposed to a crowd-pleasing banger like “The Beautiful People” to end the show. Kudos, Brian. I’ll catch you again one day on that highway to hell.
Marilyn Manson setlist
3/5 stars – Party on, Satan.
The early-teenage version of me spent countless hours sitting on the floor of his tiny bedroom, spinning CDs in his Aiwa bookshelf stereo, reveling in all of the emotions evoked by the music of Jane’s Addiction, Type O Negative, and not to mention, Smashing Pumpkins. I was ecstatic to be able to cross a major item off of my bucket list: Seeing “Mayonnaise” live. Smashing Pumpkins did not disappoint on that front. I was instantly transported back to a time when I would just close my eyes and let Billy and co. whisk me away to a magical land full of reverb and distortion.
Even at the ripe old age of 48, Billy’s vocals sounded crisp in a live setting. The band has held up well despite missing half of its original members. There was a moment early in the set where Billy was noticeably miffed when he didn’t get much of a crowd response after playing newer material. Let’s not shit ourselves here. Hardcore fans “like” the new record(s) but we all know what we showed up to see: Rock jams that we can sing along with because we know them by heart. The majority of the set was comprised of just that, but due to the strict 11pm curfew, the Pumpkins were forced to omit “Today” as an encore, causing the closer to be “United States” off of Zeitgeist, ending the show on a middling note. One final classic Billy jam would have got me back on my feet for the finale instead of looking at my watch.
Smashing Pumpkins setlist
3/5 stars – Soothing and cathartic to the angsty teenagers that we still carry deep inside of our psyches.
Lan did his best by sneaking in a Canon from the 70s and some expired film since they wouldn’t give us a photo pass, so we made do.