Concert Reviews

Darstar Fondly Recall The Smashing Pumpkins, Foo Fighters

Usually with this column, we might interview one or two people from a band. With Darstar, all five members were kind enough to share the first shows they saw and played. And, if you wanted a reminder of how effective Smashing Pumpkins were in their heyday, listen to what Lisa Hardaway has to say.

What was the first show you remember seeing? Were you with your parents? Carson So (keyboards/guitar): My parents took me to see a Beatles cover band when I was a wee lad, somewhere in Dallas. I remember it was really cool to finally see something performed live versus having it on full blast in my dad's car on cassette tape. Ben Piche (guitar): It was The Rentals/Silverchair/Red Hot Chili Peppers when I was a kid living out in Maryland. Someone else's dad brought us to the arena and was cool enough to hang out somewhere else during the show. The most memorable moment was when Flea did an extended mooning during their encore, even though I went for Silverchair. Josh Pitts (drums): Stone Temple Pilots and Local H at Starplex. Went with my friend Charlie. He had a car and a fake ID. As a kid I remember seeing blues/Southern rock bands here or there at state fairs and such, but that's about it. Lisa Hardaway (vocals/guitar): The first show I saw was Smashing Pumpkins at Reunion Arena in 1996 for the Mellon Collie tour. The Frogs and Garbage opened up the show and were amazing. No parents were involved but we did have a chaperone. I went with a close friend of mine and we decided it would be baller if we took a limo to the show and when we pulled up, people milling about outside flipped out like Billy Corgan himself was about to get out of the car. We were fortunate enough to beat the lottery ticket system and get second row from stage front. Being that close to your musical obsession at 16 is pretty intense especially when thousands of other people are there experiencing it with you. Tony Newman (bass): My first show without my parents was Our Lady Peace at Deep Ellum Live. Although I grew up going to shows with my parents, that was where I fell in love with live music, getting shoved in a pit and crowdsurfing. I'm not really an OLP fan these days, but I'll give them credit for putting on a damn good show when I was 14 years old.

What was the first show you paid to see? So: MxPx with 22 Jacks at Deep Ellum Live. It was pretty sick getting to mosh, crowdsurf and throw my fist in the air for the first time. But then after the show all these bums bombarded me for change. Piche: With my own hard-earned cash? It was a Slowpoke/Pinkston/Baboon show at Curtain Club in 2000. Baboon totally blew my mind. Those guys are still mammoth rock gods to me. I just saw them open for Scratch Acid at Trees last month and they were every bit as good as they were 12 years ago. Pitts: The STP show mentioned above. Hardaway: Smashing Pumpkins' Mellon Collie tour 1996. $150. That was a lot of saved up allowance for 1996, but all the housecleaning and babysitting my shit of a brother was worth it. Newman: Same show as above. On a side note, I think it was like $12, which is what a modern-day Ticketmaster service charge is alone! Wow, that makes me sound old.

What was the first show that made a major impact on you? So: Superdrag/Deathray Davies in Austin at the Mercury Room. Getting to see two of my favorite bands at the same time! Fuckin' A! I remember John Davis telling everyone that they were going to play a 22-song salute, and later on in the set all these people lighting up their cigarettes off a dollar bill during "Sucked Out." At that moment I knew I was at a true rock show. Piche: My first Foo Fighters show, without a doubt. I caught them on The Colour and The Shape tour when they played at Bronco Bowl. At this point I was about 14 or 15 and had been a hardcore Foo fan since their first album.They opened with Taylor and Dave on drum kits. They played for what seemed like ever, and Dave always makes the crowd feel at home with his humorous banter in between songs. Pitts: It's kind of a combination of a few for me, but in the end, it stops and starts with one: Foo Fighters in '97 at Bronco Bowl. Set starts out with Grohl and Hawkins playing on separate drum kits, simultaneously, perfectly in sync, fills and all. As a drummer, it was inspiring. The Colour and the Shape tour, and we had floor tickets. I had just turned 16. Yep, I'm happy with this answer. Hardaway: See above. When you're 16 years old and in the presence of musicians that you view as above human, it impacts the hell out of you. You aren't jaded yet, you're naïve and more content with life than you know so when you go to your first show ever and it's your favorite band ever, no other show will beat that. Peoples' first experiences with a lot of things have a big impact on them. I've been to a million shows and have been impacted in a variety of ways by bands like Rasputina and Apocalypse Hoboken, it's just different when you're young and impressionable and you believe you can be these people too. That show prompted me to buy the guitar that I still play shows with to this day. That's a big deal. Newman: I'd have to say either MxPx, Less Than Jake or Goldfinger when I was in junior high. Those shows made me have a life-long love for punk rock! And all three bands had amazing bass players that convinced me switch to bass.

What can you remember about your first show with Darstar? So: I had actually never played a live show in a club atmosphere before so I remember being completely clueless about how to set up and what to tell the sound guy. It was a lot different from when I used to be a club DJ, where at least I got to hide in the DJ booth and all the equipment was already set up for me. But once I got all my gear situated, I was super eager to rock. Piche: Tony's strap falling off mid-song. Classic first show technical difficulty. We only had eight songs that first show, including a cover of The Flys' "Got You," so it was perfect that our slot was only 30 minutes. Pitts: It was at Lola's Sixth on a Sunday afternoon, 10 or so bands, an all-day local show. I remember thinking it strange our first show took place during the daylight hours. We only had about 25 minutes of material, and I was hoping we would all remember to nail the bridge in our lone cover tune, Grandaddy's "A.M. 180." I remember us nailing it. The bridge. Hardaway: Well, it had been a long time since I'd played in front of people. My last band hadn't been functioning for the better part of a year so I had some serious nervous issues going into it. Our first show was at Lola's Sixth during a day-long summer festival. By the time our set started, my legs were shaking so bad that I thought my knees were going to buckle. I was worried it was noticeable to the crowd -- it was. My parents were also there which was interesting because they literally had no idea about what this band stuff was all about. My dad even asked me where I'd gotten my guitar and I said, "Dad, you helped me pay for it when I was 16. I'm not surprised you haven't seen it since. What do you think was making all that noise in my room for two years?" I'm glad we opened that show because had we waited, I probably would've had a nerves-induced heart attack. I still get nervous at shows sometimes, but that's what whiskey is for. Newman: Having six days to learn the whole set before the show at Lola's Sixth and being afraid that I was gonna forget the next riff!! Fun show though.

Darstar play with Bad Design Friday, February 3, at Bryan Street Tavern.

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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs