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Last July, Fender introduced a Billy Corgan guitar, which means that Gen-X’ers who’ve reproduced can not only introduce their kids to the tool that defined alt-rock, they can help them get his guitar sound, too! I kid, but for the past 20 years, it’s been impossible to praise Corgan’s Smashing Pumpkins without taking a shot at them—any musical heights the band hit were immediately offset by how strangely they expressed their obvious self-regard. From Corgan’s sartorial decisions—the giant skintight black gown during the 1996 VMAs, that bloody zero shirt, the Princess Leia wedding dress he’s been sporting of late—to the rock operas and full-page newspaper ads, few have approached rock stardom so inscrutably. And now with three new members and a middling album, it’s unclear whether Corgan is trying to recapture the old magic or just keep us scratching our heads. None of which will matter when Pumpkins 2.0 fire up “Cherub Rock”—only the really cranky won’t freak out and give in.
THE SMASHING PUMPKINS PEFORM AT 8 P.M. TUESDAY, NOV. 11, AND WEDNESDAY, NOV. 12, AT DAR CONSTITUTION HALL, 1776 D ST. NW. $58.50 (202) 628-1776.