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Billy Corgan and the Two-Drink Minimum

Billy Corgan opens up on the open mic

Taking a break from recording his new band Zwan’s debut album, Billy Corgan was the marquee name for a Monday-night open-mic series at the Chicago club the Hideout this fall. The former Smashing Pumpkin kept things low-key, wandering onstage after 1 a.m. wearing a fishing hat and hockey jersey. He performed newly written, gentle-seeming acoustic songs, covers (Iron Maiden’s “The Number of the Beast”), and jammed with his Zwan bandmates, including the evening’s host, guitarist Matt Sweeney. “We’re working sohard on the record,” Sweeney says. “We wanted to be in the opposite situation and fly by the seat of our pants.”

The shows featured jugglers, gonzo poets, comedians, and local luminaries Neko Case and Kelly Hogan, as well as members of Queens of the Stone Age and …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead, who dropped by while in town. “There was no big rock-star backstage action,” Case says. “You just stood in a tent in the back alley wearing your jeans and painting shirt.”