Smashing Pumpkins first act for Tech Port Arena


Tech Port Center + Arena’s high-tech gadgets weren’t on display when the Smashing Pumpkins opened the new venue Monday night. The giant video screens behind the stage were hidden, and the Tesla coils along one wall produced no sparks.

But the music came on loud — really loud — and clear, which is mostly what counted during the Pumpkins’ two-hour set, which ranged from serious melodic rock to ’90s hits such as “1979” and “Disarm.” to a deluge of electric guitars and a throbbing rhythm.

The $70 million center, which houses a food hall and technology museum in addition to the concert arena, doesn’t stand out all that much from surrounding Port San Antonio buildings on slow General Hudnell Drive .

The arena is essentially a large black box, with 28 rows of seats on the ground and another 20 in stands rising about two-thirds of the way back from the stage. Every seat is a great seat and you don’t necessarily improve your experience by paying extra. Sightlines on the left and right sides of the front rows are a bit awkward, and the VIP lounges are high above the left side of the room.

The absolute sweet spot, the “best seat in the house”, according to one usher, is about five rows in the middle section of the bleachers. (It’s in the area of ​​section C, row 5, seat 6 if you’re buying tickets for an upcoming concert).

There are conveniently located bars and bathrooms on either side of the room, with what seemed like twice as much real estate devoted to women’s bathrooms as men’s. If you don’t want to walk that far to a bar, vendors peddle big ball game style boys.

The bars also sell snacks like nachos and pretzel bites, but if you’re really hungry, show up early and start your evening in the dining room next door. It’s not just great food for a concert hall, it’s great food for a food hall, featuring San Antonio favorites such as Earl Abel’s – yes, there’s pie – and The Big Bib BBQ.

Prices can be high ($15-$17 for a 24-ounce beer; $20 for a bowl of Kuriya’s ramen), but anyone who’s been to a Spurs game or movie recently knows these are the standard prices. arenas. Cheaper options are available: a giant slice of Capo’s pepperoni pizza and a bottle of water can be purchased for around $13. If you opt for the adult juice pouch filled with vodka-enriched cherry lemonade, this is for you.

Video and audio screens in the food hall let them know what was happening on stage. At around 7:30 p.m. Monday, it was the opening act for the Velveteers, a self-proclaimed primitive rock trio from Boulder, Colorado.

The Smashing Pumpkins took the stage just in time at 8:30 p.m., with vocalist Billy Corgan leading a lineup that included original members James Iha on guitar and Jimmy Chamberlin on drums. It was, said Corgan, “the band’s first headlining gig in a long, long time”.

The setlist drew heavily from the albums “Siamese Dream” and “Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness”, but also included new songs like “Telegenix” and relative obscurities such as “One and All”, which, according to super fans from the setlist. fm, the band hadn’t played live since 2014, the year of their release.

As loud as the band played, the music never got muddy. Corgan’s vocals were audible and understandable even when it felt like Jack Bates’ bass lines were coming from your chest. And it was still possible to hear distinct guitar parts — swarms of locusts, air raid sirens — when Corgan, Iha and Jeff Schroeder indulged in instrumental excesses on a song like “Solara.”

The sold-out crowd — the arena’s capacity is about 3,300 — aired after 10:30 p.m. to the sound of Judas Priest, but the Tech Port Center + Arena isn’t just a rock venue. Musical tastes have obviously changed since the concert’s older fans bumped their heads at the Sunken Garden Theater.

The next two concerts on the lineup are rapper Kevin Gates on May 14 and Mexican pop singer Carla Morrison on May 21. Perhaps Tesla coils will also make an appearance.

The 3,300-seat arena was sold out for the Smashing Pumpkins concert, which kicked off the band's Rock Invasion 2 tour.

The 3,300-seat arena was sold out for the Smashing Pumpkins concert, which kicked off the band’s Rock Invasion 2 tour.

Ronald Cortés / Contributor

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