The Capawock Theatre in Vineyard Haven introduces a two-part November rock and roll cinema program this weekend with Smashing Pumpkins: If All Goes Wrong. The Pumpkins film screens tonight, Friday, Nov. 7 at 9:15 p.m. and Monday, Nov. 10 at 7 and again at 9:15 p.m.
The second film, The Who: Live at Kilburn 1977, will be showing Saturday, Nov. 15 at 4 and 9:15 p.m.
If All Goes Wrong is an engrossing examination of a band that dominated the pop charts a decade ago as the two remaining members try to find a new place in the public ear. Lead singer Billy Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, now approaching middle age, held auditions to recruit some attractive young talent for their comeback album, rather presumptuously named Zeitgeist.
The film follows the band as the members promote the new album with several “residencies;” performing eight consecutive shows at the Orange Peel in Asheville, North Caroline, and then 11 shows at the Fillmore in San Francisco.
The idea behind these stationary micro-tours was that the band’s performances would “evolve” within the period of their encampments as they engendered a connection with the location and the audience. The film swiftly reveals the disconnect between the band’s idealized conception of this unusual performance schedule and the interests of their fan base, who are much more interested in a night of simple nostalgia for the Pumpkins’ glory days of hit singles than the social pseudo-experiment that lead singer Billy Corgan earnestly refers to as “a utopian concept with no pretense.”
While Smashing Pumpkins fans will no doubt find the film an informative update on the band’s present incarnation, this film is more than anything a fascinating look at the many threats posed by international fame upon musicianship and artistry. The results of this conflict are manifested in the bizarre and at times disquieting behavior of Mr. Corgan, who spends much of the picture whining and throwing fits while sitting on his hotel room bed in an oddly-tailored nightgown. And perhaps most importantly for a rock and roll documentary, there are several breathtaking stage performances, where the same man who finds “you know I’m here to rock, my head is full of rocks” to be a compelling lyric exhibits such virtuoso skill as a guitarist and performer that you instantly forgive him for being such a baby all the time.