The Smashing Pumpkins, Noel Gallagher & AFI in San Diego

What was sure to be an incredible evening in San Diego, California went above and beyond anyone’s expectations. Lovers of 90s emotive rock joined forces with those of core emo lovers the night of August 28th in Chula Vista’s North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre, where The Smashing Pumpkins were joined onstage with Noel Gallagher (of Oasis) and the high-energy antics of AFI.

And, to think AFI is past their prime is a silly notion. Jumping around onstage like a bunch of teenagers, AFI members entertained the masses right out the gate, making people jump and scream before the sun had a chance to set. Paving the way for a more mellow second act, AFI exited the stage for Noel Gallagher and his High Flying Birds to take the lead. Colorful and full of smiles, Gallagher’s players jammed alongside the alt legend, playing his solo stuff before giving the audience a taste of his Oasis days. Apparently, Gallagher has major beef with Dave Growl (of Foo Fighters) and did not hesitate to mention it. Several times. Ending on “All You Need is Love”, the quintessential song of love and acceptance brought to the world by The Beatles, inarguably the greatest band of all time, Gallagher’s irony wasn’t lost on the crowd, especially after claiming “Wonderwall” is “the best song ever written.” What an interesting specimen.

Quirky and contagiously enigmatic, Smashing Pumpkins shredded song after song…

Three tall figurine shadows enlarged on the darkened stage during the interim period between Gallagher and the main attraction. Taking the stage, The Smashing Pumpkins launched into “Tonight, Tonight” to much applause — Billy looking much like The Addam’s Family’s Uncle Lester. Quirky and contagiously enigmatic, The Smashing Pumpkins shredded song after song, bringing grunge rock back better than before. Something about the band interacting so nonchalantly while wailing away on their instruments is mesmerizing. Deep cuts were thrown between radio hits like “Bullet With Butterfly Wings”, “Today”, “Zero” and, of course, “1979”, with the three giant blow-up figurines illuminating the players from behind, turning from front to back and glowing bright with different-colored lights.

Walking back to my car that night, a familiar smell lingered in the air for me; something that I only catch a whiff of once a year, catapulting me back to my childhood in an instant. I couldn’t put my finger on it for a second. Walking under a bright moon, luminescent in the late summer sky, I reflected on the set I just witnessed, awed in SP’s spooky ways. Then it hit me — it was the smell of hay. I looked down to see it littered the parking lot under my feet. Haystacks in colder states, especially more rural ones where I come from, mark the onset of fall; they guard the front of corn mazes during Halloween time, not to mention the hay rides that bring you to and from the festivities. The Smashing Pumpkins made me realize my favorite holiday is right around the corner and the largest smile spread across my face. How perfect. Catch The Smashing Pumpkins touring with Noel Gallagher and AFI in a city near you while you can!

Photography by Kristy Rose

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