Today is not the greatest day ever known for the Smashing Pumpkins reunion tour. Neither is tomorrow, or the day after that.
The band’s much-hyped three-fourths reunion tour is getting some negative press over its upcoming tour with sites like Consequence of Sound and NME pointing out large empty seating sections for shows on the Shiny And Oh So Bright Tour. While some dates on the tour are doing absolutely abysmal (this July 24 Miami show is tanking), the truth is that most of the tour appears to be doing ok and will likely go off this summer without any major disaster, while also being kind of unremarkable and lackluster.
That means no Pollstar end of year awards that they send someone else to accept on their behalf, and certainly no top 25 ranking on the 2018 year-end Billboard Boxscore. This tour, as many others have done in the past, will hobble along selling a hundred or so tickets a week in most cities until summer arrives and the tour plods across the finish line and wraps Sept. 7 at the Idaho Center Arena in Nampa.
“The tour has sold an average 3,500 to 5,500 in most markets and is going to be a slow burn probably selling 10,000 tickets in each city,” said one booker who has been watching the tour. “You have to remember that no one had any idea how this tour would do when it was announced.”
The last time the band toured was in 2015 with Rage Against the Machine’s Brad Wilk filling in on drums and The Killers’ Mark Stoermer filling in on bass, part of a co-headlining tour of North America with Marilyn Manson called “The End Times Tour.” Those dates were mostly outdoor shows — a much larger arena tour is a totally different animal.
For some, supporting Corgan is a moral dilemma considering his regular appearances on Alex Jones’ InfoWars to “demolish social justice warrior brainwashing” and compare Bernie Sanders to Chairman Mao. Also probably not helping the tour was Corgan’s bizarre spat with former bassist D’arcy Wretzky, who seems to have been uninvited to join the “reunion tour,” creating a bizarre back and forth volley of insults and allegations that sucked all of the excitement out of the reunion announcement. It also reminded fans that this was not to be a “real” reunion tour, but a three-fourths attempt with James Iha, who took a ten-year break from the band but did play a few shows in the last few years, as well as drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, who has toured with Corgan and the Pumpkins on several occasions the last few years including the Manson co-headlined End Times tour.
So the band is putting together a lineup that’s interesting to fans, but not rare, and they are doing so at a time when there is already a ton of great shows hitting the road for one of the strongest arena and stadium touring seasons in recent memory. Take Philadelphia where the band is playing July 28 at the Wells Fargo Center. Between now and Smashing Pumpkins show night, the arena is also host to Demi Lovato with DJ Khalid (March 23), Lorde (April 2), Pink (April 13), Bon Jovi (May 3), Justin Timberlake (June 2), Depeche Mode (June 3), U2 (June 13 & 14), Harry Styles (June 15), Paul Simon (June 16), Sam Smith (July 4) and two nights of Radiohead starting just three nights after the Pumpkins. And the Pumpkins are playing the same night as The Eagles are taking over the Phillies ballpark across the street. Even if the band was doing a full reunion and had a hit new radio song, it would be difficult to stand out in that crowded field.
And hey, some of the shows on the 36-city tour are doing ok, like Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Toronto. But the bigger markets always tend to outperform the smaller cities and aren’t the greatest indicator of overall tour health. Bottom line, the tour is not doing great but it’s nothing to really panic about. Tickets will slowly sell in each city, the band and its promoters will find a way to move a lot of the inventory as the date approaches and Smashing Pumpkins fans will be treated to hits like “1979” and “Bullet With Butterfly Wings” with three-fourths of the original lineup. If that doesn’t get you pumped for some Pumpkins this summer then you’re probably like most people. In a summer with some great tours planned by both new and longtime acts, it’s hard to care that much about what Billy Corgan is working on.