Simply Zwan

by David Krell

A vast majority of grunge rocks, pioneers came to Illinois State University this past week showcasing songs from both Queens of the Stone Age and Zwan's short history. Joshua Hommes, who has toured with Soundgarden as a guitarist, leads the Queens melodic, yet hard rock driven assault, while former Screaming Trees singer, Mark Lanegan, lends his Scott Weiland imitated vocals on many of the Queens better tunes. Dave Grohl, who was the drummer in Nirvana and is now heading the Foo Fighters, played drums on the Queens latest album, "Songs for the Deaf," but is unfortunately in the midst of a tour with the Foo Fighters.

Then there's Billy Corgan of the former Smashing Pumpkins, who has now started this amalgamation of indie rockers, which he so happily titled, "Zwan."

We all remember Mr. Corgan, for unless you were in a coma between 1993 and 1997, he was everywhere. He broke our hearts with sweet and gently naïve love songs such as "Today and "Tonight, Tonight, but also reminded everyone that sadness often comes out as fury. "Bullet with Butterfly Wings," which is a song off of the Smashing Pumpkins multi-platinum double album, "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," is proof of that.

Add Jimmy Chamberlain, the former Smashing Pumpkins drummer, and an assortment of creative musicians (Paz Lenchantin, previously of Tool's newly formed A Perfect Circle, David Pajo, who was in the electronically fueled pop band, Tortoise, and Matt Sweeney of the 70's style rock band, Skunk and you've got Zwan, who are basically a more optimistic version of the Smashing Pumpkins. Same old acoustic love songs balance out the hard rock ballads, but there is a noticeable difference between the two bands.

This difference comes in the form of a wonderful female backup singer, a 3-guitar attack, and an overall better mood.On this night, it was clearly evident that both the Queens of the Stone Age and Zwan were in high spirits. The "Queens opened the show with one of their hardest tunes, which most certainly foreshadowed the rest of their set. Songs, such as "Go with the Flow" and "Song for the Dead," were so loud that many of the fans in attendance found the music to be unbearable, and thus, sat down awaiting what they thought would be a mostly cheery Zwan.

But the Queens were wonderfully hypnotic in their attempt at literally blowing people away, so they deserve some recognition.

Then after 17 songs, including an encore, the Queens were just a memory, and Zwan was only minutes away. Sporting a black turtleneck, cargo pants, and a huge smile, Billy Corgan led his band-mates onstage. Lead guitarist, Matt Sweeney, began the first notes of their heaviest song, "Jesus, I" while Billy took a much
needed bow.

Billy fans were everywhere, and if the Smashing Pumpkins t-shirts weren,t enough proof, then maybe the 5 or so, "Billy, I love you" signs might have been a big enough hint of the crowds true purpose. But between Zwan's catchy pop hooks, vocal harmonies, and amazing drum patterns, no one could complain of being bored, for there was always something interesting going on. The female bassist consistently moved with finesse and sexual prowess, while completing her creatively distinct bass lines.

Jimmy Chamberlain, who has gained some weight since he was last in the public eye, didn't miss a beat, and actually created a few which didn't seem at all humanly possible. After completing a rather complex drum solo, Jimmy winked at Billy as if to transfer some kind of superpower from one superhero to another.

Of course Billy still writes those typical acoustic love songs that we all pretend to hate, for the sole reason that it keeps us from hearing our musical hero "rock out," but on this night, Zwan, as well as the Queens of the Stone Age, proved that the hardest and most pure post-modern rock was most certainly in.

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