Watch Restored Video of the Smashing Pumpkins’ First Televised Performance (1988)




For Gen X’ers who spent their twenties scouting the cities young people go to retire, and Millennials who spent their youth dancing to N’Sync, TLC, and the Spice Girls, nostalgia for simpler times just makes psychological sense. The 1990s was the last decade in which we had a shared set of references, “before the internet splintered mass culture,” Sadie Dingfelder writes at The Washington Post. “In the 90s, everyone listened to the same one or two radio stations in their city that played all the Top 40 hits, spanning all kinds of genres,” says DJ Matt Bailer.

This means that everyone who heard “No Scrubs” enough times to sing each note also heard the Smashing Pumpkins’ biggest hits, and learned to love them equally. It means that we could love the music of Billy Corgan without being subjected to the terrible opinions of Billy Corgan. As the baby-faced singer/songwriter aged, he has become, in his own words, a “bitter contrarian,” “carnival barker,” and “class-A heel,” he says, referencing his later career in professional wrestling.


The assessment may seem mild considering Corgan’s appearances on Alex Jones’ Infowars and his embrace of conspiracy theories. Behavior he calls schtick has actual consequences in the world. Has it hurt his career? “If I kept my mouth shut,” he admits in discussing the band’s 2018 reunion, “we’d be playing a lot bigger venues and we would be a lot more successful, and we’d be in somebody’s Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.” Love or hate Corgan, Smashing Pumpkins as a unit earned their place in rock and roll history.

The Pumpkins exuded mystery from the start, with their sublime, fuzzed-out psychedelic melodies and huge, distorted choruses. Later came the dreamlike videos and opaque, impassive rock star egos. They didn’t just make it big in the 90s, they were essential to its sound, one they invented even before the decade dawned. See a young, cherubic Corgan and band debut above on The Pulse, a Chicago public access music show, in 1988, in a video and audio upscaling and remaster.

It was their first televised appearance, drummer Jimmy Chamberlain had just joined, and they were booked for a segment for local bands called “The Basement Jam” after sending in their demo tape. The show’s producer Lou Hinkhouse introduces the TV gig, summing up his feelings at that time: “None of us that day really knew for sure, but we knew they were on to something…. they’re about to define a new sound for a new generation.” How right he was. See the tracklist for the mostly-unfamiliar songs in the set just below.

1. There lt Goes 1:54 2. She-7:37 3. Under Your Spell –11:47 4. My Eternity –17:06 5. Bleed 26:44 6. Nothing And Everything – 32:10 7. Jennifer Ever 42:14 8. Death Of A Mind (Sun) – 49:03 9. Spiteface – 55:44

via Boing Boing

Related Content: 

Watch Nirvana Perform as an Opening Band, Two Years Before Their Breakout Album Nevermind (1989)

Billy Corgan Performs an 8+ Hour Ambient Interpretation of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha

The 120 Minutes Archive Compiles Clips & Playlists from 956 Episodes of MTV’s Alternative Music Show (1986-2013)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness


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