The Clashing Pumpkins

The Clash and The Smashing Pumpkins might seem like an odd double-bill. But it makes sense. The Clash where the ever-evolving British punk rockers of the late 70s to mid-80s and The Smashing Pumpkins were heavy-hitters in the 90s alternative grunge scene but constantly diverged into different rock sub-genres. The two never pigeonholed their sound, a potential factor as to why they remain staples of the periods that defined them.

The Clashing Pumpkins is a worthy ode to these iconic periods in music.

“The Clash”

Local punk outfit Young Offenders kicked the night off. The band consisting of Kyle Landman on vocals, Anthony Kantern on bass, and Leigh Shags on drums (with the addition of Nick Nancarrow from OKO on guitar and Tom Morris from Angels of Gung-Ho on keyboard/synth) dished out one hit after the other. Successfully spanning The Clash‘s discography from their self-titled debut to 1982’s Combat Rock, Young Offenders knew exactly what the crowd wanted.

True standouts from the night where London Calling, Rock the Casbah, Should I Stay or Should I Go, I Fought the Law, Bank Robber, and Safe European Home (prefacing it by saying “this one is about Brexit). Young Offenders had a great punk sensibility with plenty of cheekiness and banter between songs, successfully winning over the older crowd with their passionate intensity. Landman, having an English background himself, has to be praised for his excellent vocal substitute for Joe Strummer’s own. Kantern, Shags, Nancarrow, and Morris worked with great precision in covering the diverse range of instrumentals found across The Clash‘s discography.

Their set was short, fast, loud and succinct like any great punk record.

“The Smashing Pumpkins”

Tork jumped on stage shortly after to celebrate the 25th anniversary of The Smashing Pumpkins seminal double-album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. Another local Adelaide band (but fitting into the indie/grunge genre) comprised of Josh and Michael Morphett, Sam Rogerson, and additional keyboards/synth and guitar from Tom Morris and Jack Cunningham (also a member of Angels of Gung-Ho). Josh Morphett accurately mimics the distinct vocal afflictions of Billy Corgan, proving himself more than capable of handling Corgan’s lyrics. Morris, (or as Josh calls him “The Chicago Symphony Orchestra”) provides a brilliant substitute for Mellon Collie’s more orchestral/ classical sounds. Michael, Rogerson, and Cunningham pound the crowd with grunge-like intensity and further showcase their musical abilities in the quieter and more refined moments.

All the standouts tracks are played (Where Boys Fear to Tread, Tonight, Tonight, 1979, and the ultimate crowd-pleasers: Zero, and Bullet with Butterfly Wings) in addition to deeper cuts, and Siamese Dream’s hits, Today, and Disarm. In addition to these moments, Tork also played Fleetwood Mac‘s Landslide (covered by The Smashing Pumpkins in 2018). While Tork certainly delivers, the more contemplative moments (while technically brilliant) create a slight lull between the anthems. The bands cover of Landslide was great but didn’t feel all that necessary.

Their set was sprawling, raw, and moody much like any great grunge album.


4 1/2 stars

Words and photography by Isaac Freeman

The Clashing Pumpkins season has now ended