Smashing Pumpkins – The World Is A Vampire Festival Review & Photo Gallery 19th April @ Hordern Pavilion, Syd NSW
April 19, 2023
Hordern Pavilion, Sydney NSW
Feat: Jane’s Addiction, Amyl & The Sniffers, Battlesnake and Wrestling
A “pop”, in the pro wrestling world, is when a wrestler gets any kind of reaction from the crowd. For instance, if something massively unexpected happens and the entire audience collectively loses their shit, that would be considered a “huge pop”. Do you get it? Cool. Let’s go.
It’s half an hour before doors and there’s already a solid line of keen punters out the front of the Hordern. It’s been 8 years since we last saw The Smashing Pumpkins in Australia and while I understand their enthusiasm, I’ll never understand their need to camp out early on the footpath when there are two perfectly good bars sitting right across the street. I walk into the bar on the right and sneak in a cheeky pint with the rest of the lucky bastards not having to work at 3.30pm on a Wednesday arvo. I find my spot outside on the deck and stare at the sea of multi-generational fans sitting in line on this beaut sunny day in Sydney.
It’s the second straight show at the Hordern and the commemorative poster by Aussie artist Mental Ben has sold out from the night before. I grab a bright pink World Is A Vampire stubby holder, swing by the bar and head into the pavilion to see, for the first time in 30 years in this iconic venue, a wrestling ring beside the stage. Billy Corgan’s wrestling company the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) is on tonight’s card and is facing off against our own Pro Wrestling Australia (PWA).
My eyes dart to the stage and a hulking American brute called Thrill Billy is sporting nut-popping jean shorts, a torn muscle top and a blown-out mullet that anyone from 1985 would be proud of. He cuts a wrestling-styled promo and introduces Sydney 7-piece Battlesnake to the stage. These legends saunter out, decked out in priestly robes covered in sequins, including the vocalist whose horned headgear is glistening under the bright lights. It’s a three-guitar attack that gives Iron Maiden a run for their money and the bloke playing a pink keytar while having Battlesnake flags sticking out of his back doesn’t look ridiculous at all. They all rip in hard and it’s so good that Thrill Billy starts headbanging like it’s 1985. One of the guitarists is a dead ringer for Frank Zappa, he’s tearing shreds off of his Gibson Flying V while flashing a huge shit-eating grin that all of the devil’s minions couldn’t wipe off. There’s bugger all people here, but everyone present is having a ball, plus there’s still more folks here than you’d get at a pub. At the end of the day, Battlesnake more than earned their spot on the bill. The whole show was a bunch of fun, like a toga party held in the lowest and most fun depths of hell.
I’ve said it before. Wrestling is real. Despite the predetermined outcomes, choreographed manoeuvres, built-up storylines and stylised characters, professional wrestling is real dammit. Take Smashing Pumpkins frontman Billy Corgan for instance. It’s so real to him that he went and bought the NWA, the world’s oldest professional wrestling organisation and was good enough to bring some of his roster of athletes down under with him to take on Australia’s PWA.
The first of the two wrestling spots saw the like of NWA’s Women’s TV Champion Kenzie Paige, The Southern Six, Mercurio, and NWA World Junior Heavyweight Champion Kerry Morton (a 3rd generation wrestler) up against our very own Cherry Stephens, Jack Bonza and Mat Diamond. Even the Aussie Muso’s got in on the action. Amyl’s Amy Taylor looked every bit a wrestler as the rest of them as she escorted Thrill Billy out to the ring. Soon after his triple-threat match, the massive lad was ambushed by Battlesnake. No fear though. The pink keytar bloke got too close and had his arse handed to him as a result. Bloody brilliant to see. An unreal display of wrestling and a kick arse show.
Amyl and the Sniffers hit the stage and they are more fun than Christmas. It was a bit of a cruisey start to proceedings as the crowd was starting to build but it wasn’t long until Amyl’s frenetic energy was on display. The Star of the show though is definitely Amy who spends half the show with her tongue out while looking like a disobedient kid doing TikTok dances in the Woolies aisle as she secretly flips off her folks behind their back. She tells a story about being accused of faking it as an Aussie, and is really a cashed-up Brit putting it on as an act. Then drummer Bryce Wilson goes full gronk and yells out “Go Parra”, to which Amy replies, “can anyone else drum, he’s gotta go”. She goes on to say that her folks started Panthers Leagues Club, or something to that effect and I may have spent a large part of my youth in that joint. The band kick through a killer set consisting of huge crowd favourites like ‘Guided By Angels’, ‘Maggot’, ‘GFY’ and ‘Knifey’. Sometime during ‘Don’t Need a Cunt’. Amy’s voice cacks out a bit but she soldiers on. At that point, it all feels like we’re gearing up for a barney as she stalks the stage throwing air punches. She assures the brains in security that that’s not the case as she’s “not looking for trouble, I’m looking for love”. Amyl close out with ‘Hertz’ and as the band start wandering off stage Amy stands front and centre and says “People who wear less clothes get judged as being cheap, but that ain’t reflective of me baby.” Perfect finish. Killer set.
The very real wrestling returns as NWA tag team champions La Rebelión (Bestia 666 & Mecca Wolf 450) take the stage against PWA tag team champs The Velocities w/ Mick Moretti. The commentary team hand the mic to Mecha Wolf 450, who has half his face painted and says “Australia sucks and so does Vegemite”. A funny thing to say considering he looks like he used half a jar of the stuff to paint his face. The Aussies win but the NWA champs get the last laugh as Kerry Morton jumps back in the ring and hits the Aussies with a couple of dog shots. He flips off the crowd while grinding the top rope with his tongue out. Great fun for all the family.
The tubs start to thump as Janes Addiction amble eerily onstage as they kick off with ‘Kettle Whistle. It’s a slow build entry as Perry Farrell comes out looking like a shaman cowboy, sounding as beautiful and as haunting as ever. The energy is rising and this is as close as you’ll get to a holy experience tonight. Alongside bassist Eric Avery and touring guitarist Josh Klinghoffer, Perry holds court over 5000 Sydney-siders like a high priest (emphasis on high). Perry turns around as three erotic dancers walk on stage, including his gorgeous wife Etty Lou Farrell. They all swan around stage and, on occasion, hang off what looks to me like the monkey bars I used to swing off in the playground as a kid. Drummer Stephen Perkins does well to not get distracted and is a force all to his own. A killer drummer that could do a show all on his own.
They rip into ‘Whores’, ‘No One’s Leaving’ and ‘Aint No Right’. The band is locked in tight as Perry looks to be slipping in and out of a psychotropic trance. He grabs a bottle of Penfolds (not Grange) and yells “I’m gunna get my drink on” to loud applause. I turn to my mate Dannii who blushes and tells me he’s still beautiful. She’s right though. The bloke is captivating to watch, still has more energy than I did in my 20s and despite weighing bugger all, he struts around like a footballer picking a fight.
Five songs into Janes’s set, its roughly 7.30pm and people are still walking in after having just knocked off work. The place a filling up nicely with people all the way to the back and the stalls are all chockers. For some reason, probably a good one, Perry barks out “That’s the last time I tell my dick to shut up”. Eric Avery, looking confused, starts playing the intro to ‘Mountain Song’ and you can feel the room shift. Every arm goes up and it’s your second holy moment of the set. Can’t stop thinking about Perry’s dick though. The holy experience continues as they play ‘Jane Says’, before Perry lets us know that “It’s no big secret man. We like to get high”. They finish up proceedings with ‘Three Days’ and huge closer ‘Been Caught Stealing’. A huge applause follows with screams for an encore. No such luck unfortunately but Perry leaves us with one last beautiful gesture as he says “Don’t forget about us Sydney. We love you. Perry loves you”. We love you too mate. But no one more than my mate Dannii does though.
I’d be satisfied if this ended now. It’s already been a killer night but we’re not done yet. There’s a bit of a reprieve after Janes finished up and at 45 I’m not the oldest bloke here. A few of the older folks in the crowd are having a stretch and it looks like the crowd is taking Perry’s advice to get their drink on as everyone makes a beeline to the bar. As Judas Priest gets belted out over the loudspeaker I notice that the punter’s ages go from south of 10 to north of 60. The place smells like weed and wet wipes.
All the wrestlers climb into the ring to get the premium spot in anticipation to watch their boss Billy Corgan ply his wares, Including Kerry Morton, a third-generational wrestler, who takes his position in his natural habitat on the top rope in the corner of the ring. Pumpkins drummer Jimmy Chamberlain promised that with 35 years of music up their belts, tonight’s set wouldn’t just be a best of, but more of an emotional journey using the best of what they had to offer.
The journey starts as the lights dim and the track for ‘Atum’ (The opening song from their new rock opera, also titled ATUM) is played to set the mood. Slowly each member of the band emerges before ripping into new song ‘Empire’ which gets a few heads nodding before Billy Morgan sings “The world is a vampire” to kickstart old favourite ‘Bullet With Butterfly Wings’ to a rousing reception. ‘Today’ follows and the nostalgia train has well and truly left the station as I get flashbacks of drunken backyard bonfire parties in high school. The room is full to the brim and there’s a hell of a lot of happy faces in the crowd. Things slow up a wee bit with ‘We Only Come Out At Night’ from Mellon Collie and is followed up with a cover of Talking Heads’ ‘Once in a Lifetime’. There must be something in the water though because Corgan’s vocals start to crack a little, much like Amy from the Sniffers did earlier.
During the intro to each song so far there’s a bit of build-up that generally includes a bit of solid drum soloing, a bit of guitar wankery, a lot of feedback and at one point James Iha unholsters a kids laser toy gun from his mic stand and grinds it up the strings in front of his pickups. I look about and a few punters enjoy his quirky behaviour but for me and a few others cupping their ears the squealing feedback is bloody horrible. You’ve played a guitar with a pick your whole life, give that a red hot go mate.
After one such squealing stuff about, the lads play ‘Solara’ off Shiny and Oh So Bright’ before Corgan exits the stage.
Half a second of eerie weirdness and then something I didn’t expect in a million 4evers.
THE FUCKING VERONICAS WALK OUT ON STAGE!!!!!!!
I look around and the crowd gives out a collective WOW as Jess and Lisa Origliasso sing ‘Eye’. Corgan reemerges sans guitar and sings with them while dancing a bit like a dad at a wedding. Phones are out taking pics and everyone is messaging someone who wasn’t there (Browny) to capture this rare and beautiful reunion of former lovers Billy and Jess. The light show is exceptional as everyone on stage is bathed in overlapping light. Corgan looks exactly as advertised, a vampire from outer space.
The girls leave and the lads kick on with ‘Ava Amore’, ‘Spellbinding’ and an acoustic cover of ‘Under the Milky Way’ by The Church. At this point, Corgan and James Iha take a minute to talk shit with the audience about their long friendship that dates back to playing music in Corgan’s fathers’ drug room. Iha’s dry wit has the crowd laughing and he steals the show when he bangs out the improvised and hilarious ‘Chicken Salt Rap’.
I turn around for half a sec and notice a member of the security team, in all their wisdom, come and ask 3rd-gen wrestler Kerry Morton to get off the top rope. He grew up on that top rope. He’s safer there than in the pit. I also see Corgan put some drops from an eye dropper down his throat. His voice might be giving him some curry, but that’s not going to stop him from finishing this show. Along with Iha, he continues on with a stripped-back acoustic version of ‘Tonight, Tonight’ before Aussie backing singer Kathy Cole gets the crowd up to sing what she calls the unofficial national anthem, ‘The Voice’ by John Farnham. It plays out well and sets the punters up for a huge finish.
The squeaky laser gun intro wankery continues and I’m wondering why it needs doing. Then they rip into ‘Cherub Rock’ to a resounding reception and it’s at that point that I get it. I look over at the wrestlers and it all makes sense. Billy is an enormous wrestling fan and in that world, it’s all about getting those huge pops. He brings the crowd way down, before unleashing an old classic song onto his unsuspecting audience and BOOM!!! HUGE POP!!!
More wankery…‘Zero’. Fucking HUGE pop!!!
By this stage, the entire audience is rocking; The place is jam-packed, people are up on shoulders and every can of overpriced alcohol is held high in the air. A bit more wankery…’1979’ starts and the joint goes full berserker. The Pumpkins finish off with ‘Silverfuck’ as NWA wrestler Mercurio walks out on stage, only to cop a cutter from fellow NWA wrestler Natalia Markova. Bass player Jeff Schroeder stomps a mud hole into him as the band finishes the song and waves their goodbyes to their loving audience. No encores. Corgan’s voice is cactus, the Pumpkins are done and so is the audience. It’s been an insane evening filled with great music, exotic dancing, nice food, pricey drinks and professional wrestling. I mean, what else is there? Lego. There’s Lego.
Festival Review by Duane James @duanejames666
Revisit our interview with Smashing Pumpkins’ Jimmy Chamberlain here
Photo Gallery by Bree Vane. Insta: @mindtheweathervane
Please credit Wall of Sound and Bree Vane if you repost.
The Smashing Pumpkins – The World Is A Vampire Festival
with Jane’s Addiction, Amyl & The Sniffers, Redhook, Battlesnake and more!
Wednesday, April 26: Adelaide Entertainment Centre SA ALL AGES
Thursday; April 27: PICA, Port Melbourne VIC SOLD OUT
Saturday, April 29: Newcastle Entertainment Centre NSW ALL AGES
Sunday, April 30: Broadwater Parklands, Gold Coast QLD
For ticketing and event information visit