Billy Corgan & Spirit in the Sky at the Hotel Cafe: Dave Navarro, a New Drummer, and a Costume Contest
Last night at Hollywood's Hotel Café, Billy Corgan and his Sky Saxon-inspired Spirit in the Sky band -- which featured Dave Navarro of Jane's Addiction -- introduced to Los Angeles one Mike Byrne, the 19-year old drummer and newest Smashing Pumpkins member.
Capping off a two-week tour of tiny Southern California performance venues, this was to be their sixth, and final, show, celebrated as such by a partially costume-clad Sky band and an audience dappled with similarly dressed up fans, eager to win the costume contest that Corgan announced by way of blog earlier in the day. We Pumpkins enthusiasts, of course, were curious to see if Byrne was all that -- Corgan selected him after a highly publicized open audition -- and thrilled to hear the pathologically prolific Corgan's new tunes.
Corgan, decked out in his trademark slouchy stripes and olive green Cuban revolutionary hat, was flanked by eye candy: to his left was singer Linda Strawberry, she of the hypnotic, half-lidded cornflower blue eyes peeking out beneath a swath of purple bangs (and topped off with a diamond-speckled flowered feathered headdress); to his right, Dave Navarro, his sculpted arms covered in a smattering of black ink, wearing strange Amish-looking pork-choppy sideburns which, weird though they were, did little to mar his shadowy beauty. The stage was crowded with the rest of Spirit in the Sky, which included Kevin Dippold on flute and mandolin, Mark Tulin on bass, Mark Weitz on keyboards, Kerry Brown on percussion and a leggy, sailor-suited Ysanne Spevak on violin.
And, of course, there was Byrne behind his drum kit. Byrne has wide eyes and red cheeks, and wears the serious countenance of someone who no doubt realizes the massive and infamous shoes he has to fill: he was chosen by Corgan to replace original, and last remaining, Pumpkins member, Jimmy Chamberlin.