Iggy & the Stooges Free Press Summer Fest, Eleanor Tinsley Park June 2, 2013
The official closing band on Saturday at FPSF was the Postal Service, but for those of us who know how much even mellow indie-rock like the fare played by Ben Gibbard et al. owes to Detroit madman Iggy Pop, he and his Stooges were the climax of the day's events.
A crowd gathered around the Neptune Stage to pay tribute to the grandfather of punk and as soon as he stepped onto the stage, we went through a time machine. Though he looked his generation, his voice told a different story, screeching out just as powerfully and dangerously as it had 40 years earlier.
The Stooges opened with "Raw Power," a fitting motto for their live act. Gray hair aside, no one had lost a step instrumentally. In case anyone had any doubts, though, they were slapped in the face late in the set as Iggy danced and howled his way through a two-times faster version of "I Wanna Be Your Dog," which also featured a stunning instrumental workout mid-song to showcase the band's skills.
The group and its front man were on fire throughout their set, blazing through old songs and material from this year's Ready to Die album with a fervor that matched and surpassed even young punk rockers like Houston natives American Fangs earlier in the day.
Speaking of those new songs, how did they stack up against the old ones? Well, judging by the audience's reaction, they fit in just fine. Regardless of anyone's feelings on their newest record, the Stooges' new songs certainly have the raw, live-wire energy to keep the audience on their toes.
Most importantly of all though, this show was just fucking fun. Between Iggy's antics, the onstage dance party he conducted during "Fun House," their classically raucous sound, and electrifying energy, they could have played just about anything and kept everyone captivated.
After a long, miserably hot and sweaty day, the sun went down, a cool breeze blew through, and the Stooges tore the roof off an outdoor festival, which isn't even possible. For many of us in the audience, which skewed younger rather than older, it was the first time we had seen Iggy and the Stooges the flesh.
Much ado has been made of the fact that Iggy hasn't played Houston in a very long time, and we weren't old enough to catch him. But his return trip was not a disappointment. Jaws gaped and grinned slack-jawed, gawking at the manic front man, and we all got to hear the origins of our favorite music, still just as vital and relevant today as in 1973.
By the end, Iggy was limping off the stage. It was a reminder that no matter how young he sounded and looked, he and the band are getting on up there in years. It was also, however, a reminder that we all had just witnessed something special.
Not only was it a testament to Iggy and the Stooges' unwillingness to let down the audience, leaving no room to make a deal out of pain or exhaustion, but it spoke to the fact that we had just seen one of the greatest bands ever to do it giving us their all. That made every bit of suffering in the sun worthwhile.
Personal Bias: Punk rocker till I die.
The Crowd: Sun-burnt, white twentyomethings drenched in sweat and crazy from the heat, some actually crazy enough to still be wearing their punk costumes.
Overhead In the Crowd: In regards to Iggy's chest, "it's so tight when he's standing still, but then it's flopping around everywhere when he starts to move."
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Random Notebook Dump: [Bassist Mike] Watt's been humping the amp for a really long time while "Fun House" was winding down.