A&O Ball caps year of success at Patten

Alison Knezevich

In the middle of Zwan’s set Wednesday night, lead singer Billy Corgan revealed that his band has ties to Northwestern that go beyond rocking out in front of a 1,200-person crowd for two hours.

“Many of you may not know that our man Sweeney was a Northwestern student,” said Corgan, referring to guitarist Matt Sweeney.

“I dropped the fuck out, though,” replied Sweeney, a former Allison Hall resident, as the audience laughed and cheered.

Patten Gym almost shook with sound Wednesday as rock bands Zwan and Queens of the Stone Age performed for the sold-out A&O Ball. Although tickets for the concert only went on sale Monday because of problems with finalizing the contract, organizers with A&O Productions said they were pleased with the end result.

“I thought it was awesome,” said Jonathan Berman, A&O chairman. “It was one of the most amazing shows we’ve done.”

Corgan, former lead singer of the Smashing Pumpkins, promised the audience they were in for a treat from the start.

“Good evening, we are Zwan,” he said after the group’s first song. “We have come to rock you.”

But a large handful of concert-goers almost missed out.

During the opening set by hard-rock act Queens of the Stone Age, about 50 late-arriving students with tickets were stuck outside and not allowed to enter the concert.

The fire marshall reduced Patten Gym’s capacity from 1,200 to 1,000 people between 7:20 p.m. and 7:35 p.m. because a large truck storing parts of Queens of the Stone Age’s set was blocking a back door, Berman said. But because A&O had sold all 1,200 tickets, some students temporarily were shut out of the concert.

“No one from A&O knew this was a problem until (the fire marshall) said so,” said Berman, a Weinberg senior. “If we (had known) about it sooner, we would have solved it right away.”

Berman said he was upset that students with tickets had to miss part of the concert but recognized the need to be concerned for students’ safety. He speculated that the fire marshall might have been especially concerned with keeping Patten at capacity after recent disasters at the E2 nightclub in Chicago and a Rhode Island club.

During the concert’s planning, the fire marshall decreased the number of concert-goers allowed from 1,800 to 1,200 because of safety concerns.

Despite the setbacks, the concert caps a strong year for A&O, which also produced successful shows in Fall Quarter featuring Jurassic 5 and Ben Folds and Winter Quarter speakers Janeane Garofalo and Salman Rushdie.

With a set list mostly derived from their January debut album, “Mary Star of the Sea, Zwan” kept the crowd’s hands waving and feet moving.

In addition to Corgan, the band comprises former Smashing Pumpkins member Jimmy Chamberlin on drums, David Pajo on guitar and bass, Paz Lenchantin on bass, and Sweeney on guitar.

Audience members jumped to the beat when the group played well-known songs like their first single, “Honestly,” and “Settle Down.”

“I love people going nuts when they watch their favorite bands,” said Medill sophomore Jeff Cane, who co-produced the show with Weinberg junior Matt Cort.

But Zwan also lulled the audience into a slow sway with ballads like the beginning of “Jesus, I,” a rendition of a 19th century spiritual.

“Every time Zwan adapts a spiritual, I’m completely riveted,” said Manya Treece, an Education sophomore.

A few fans received souvenirs when Corgan tossed several bottles of water and guitar picks to the front of the crowd.

Security guards kept an eye on eager crowd surfers near the stage by gently pushing back those who got too close, but there were no major disruptions to the show.

Many students who called themselves Smashing Pumpkins fans said they enjoyed the concert.

Weinberg freshman Dan Abbe said this was his second time seeing Zwan perform. The band recently played five concerts at the Metro in Chicago in January.

“Jimmy Chamberlain is an incredible drummer,” Abbe said. “He was probably the reason I came.”

The Daily’s Dalia Naamani-Goldman contributed to this report.