Yours truly was loving every wallop of the Pumpkins’ assault, much of it so loud I could actually feel the volume pushing against my face and arms.
“Hello Tampa ... Florida ... land of hurricanes and gators. I hear that everywhere there’s water, there’s a gator. Is that true?” asked guitarist James Iha, drawing affirmative yelps.
I’d almost forgotten to pull out my earplugs when we headed backstage after the show to meet with Jeff Schroeder, another Pumpkins guitar player and an acquaintance of my buddy Matt’s. Just so you know, Matt makes stomp boxes, really good ones, and the band uses his gear. Cool, right? We talked with Jeff about the merits of fuzz and gain and distortion and why you never want your guitar to sound too “fizzy.”
As architects of a fair chunk of the 90s rock soundtrack, the Pumpkins are big with us middle agers. So, naturally, there were lots of graying heads in Tampa’s Amalie Arena, but also way more young people than I expected, even shaggy kids in Iron Maiden and Rush and Zeppelin shirts. I must say I’m encouraged. Maybe there’s still hope for heavy rock.
It was fun to see the Pumpkins put their own fandom on display, playing covers of Space Oddity and Stairway to Heaven. During the latter, a cloud of questionable content wafted upward from the first few rows. “Soon as we start playing Stairway, somebody lights up some pot,” Iha told the crowd. “Things never change.”