Iggy Pop, Ron Asheton, Scott Asheton and Mike Watt right after their 47 min. set at Coachella. See a full collection of live and backstage pix here by Peter Whitfield.
Creem magazine Stooges' Update: Coachella and archival Iggy and the Stooges. Thanks Robert!
and the Stooges and Nods to Yesterday
Just as the Vines played their first American show at Coachella last year, beginning their rise to pop-chart status, this year's most promising newcomer was Rooney, a well-connected New Wave-tinged group from Los Angeles. The band looked like the Ramones but played like the Beatles and the Kinks, strumming mod songs that even when unfamiliar at first became singalongs by the end.
The event, an annual outdoor concert that begins the summer festival season, drew more than 30,000 fans a day over the weekend to the Empire Polo Field with a lineup that also featured Iggy and the Stooges, the Hives and White Stripes. One of the festival's most admirable aspects is that it manages to be a relatively successful mass-audience event by focusing on a band's quality rather than its draw, a band's credibility rather than its accessibility.
The formula for such festivals, set down by Lollapalooza, is to add just one respected, credible act (and a rapper) to a moneymaking alternative-rock bill. But at Coachella there was no gimmicky rap-rock, no testosterone-fueled new metal, and no snotty punk rock. Instead there were five stages of good music blaring at almost all times, although most of the stages were so close together that hardly a concert went by without an artist complaining about the noise coming from the nearest stage.
Oddly, for a festival and audience that emphasize the new, headlining acts each night were bands that have been around since the early 1980's, the Beastie Boys on Saturday night and the Red Hot Chili Peppers on Sunday night. Both delivered hit upon hit, though the Beastie Boys seemed to be just going through the motions. The Detroit blues-rock power duo the White Stripes played a surprisingly audience-friendly set, with the drummer Meg White turned to face the singer and guitarist Jack White so she could follow his cues as he cut corners, added new edges and introduced a cappella sections to songs, most from their last two albums.
Following the White Stripes was one of the festival's most anticipated acts, the reunion of Iggy Pop with Ron and Scott Asheton, the two brothers he started the Stooges with in Ann Arbor in 1967. The influence of Iggy and the Stooges on punk, post-punk and on much of the underground rock of the last few decades has been oft-stated, but it hasn't been overstated. As Mr. Pop yowled through a fierce, rumbling version of "TV Eye," it was more than clear that in the 33 years since the song was recorded, the genre has largely been variations on a theme. And the first two Stooges albums are the theme.
Judging by many of the other bands at the festival, music in the last year has somehow inverted itself. On the radio, rappers and R&B stars are insisting that they are just regular people: J-Lo is Jenny from the block, Justin Timberlake is a kid from the 'hood, and they've all still got love for the streets. But on the stage underground rockers, now fully recovered from the self-effacing approach of the alternative rock days, are demanding to be treated like stars. In other words Oasis (which performed at the festival last year) no longer has a monopoly on rampant egotism: arrogance is the new humility.
Badly Drawn Boy, the alias of the British singer Damon Gough, introduced himself as "the greatest singer-songwriter in the world," and only seemed to be half-kidding. Throughout his set he constantly displayed love for himself and condescension to employees and the audience, cultivating in the process one of the most unlikable stage presences in rock 'n' roll, which somehow doesn't actually detract from his brilliance as a singer and songwriter.
Garage-rock two years ago was an up-and-coming trend: club promoters noticed that bands like the Hives and the White Stripes, in addition to the Strokes, the Vue and others were drawing growing audiences to high-octane live shows. Last year the music provided a much-needed antidote to the stale hard rock blanketing the airwaves. And this year it seems impossible to walk into a club without tripping over a new garage-rock band. Most of the festival's defining moments came from the genre, from both newcomers and early influences.
The Hives are among rock's most likable bands, though they areconstantly singing their own praises from the stage. "The Hives alone will give you your money's worth," the band's singer Howlin' Pelle Almqvist joked in his Swedish accent to the audience members, who had each paid $75 a day for a ticket, "and I know that's what you hoped for."
Another surprising theme of the festival was the experimental jamming of some bands, which rarely happens in excess in front of an immense audience weaned more on punk rock than the Grateful Dead. Nonetheless, the wiry freak outs of Mars Volta, the detuned deconstructions of Sonic Youth and the voyages into desert jamming from Queens of the Stone Age were among the main stage's many highlights.
Other memorable moments included the post-punk, post-disco of the Rapture; the staggering stylistic breadth of Blur, which was performing with a new guitarist, Simon Tong; the sit-down-and-dream rock of Tortoise; the D.J. Timo Maas, who spun an ever-changing set finely calibrated to every changing mood of the audience; Cafi Tacuba and Gomez, who both brought eclectic virtuosity to the second stage; and the overall ambience of the festival itself, which was never too crowded, too aggressive or too boring.
That may be why the East Coast is starting its own equivalent of Coachella this year Field Day is the title scheduled for Calverton, N.Y., on June 7 and 8, with Radiohead, the Beastie Boys, Beck and Blur headlining.
Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at Indio Polo Fields, April 26 & 27
THE REAL ROCK ACTION
Sunday at Coachella: Night was falling, and the spotlights pointing skyward from the festival grounds' periphery were now fully visible, forming a dome enclosure by vector light. Wind hit the main stage's unmanned microphones, so that the sound of air itself was audible via the gargantuan speaker system. And then there they were: at left, Stooges enthusiast/bassist Mike Watt, arguably the prime mover behind this most extraordinary and unlikely reunion, in uncustomary T-shirt and studded wristband; at center, of course, drummer Scott "Rock Action" Asheton; and at right, Scott's brother Ron, the stoic guitarist in black. These three we had seen last year at UCLA's Ackerman Ballroom with J Mascis and a parade of demistar vocalists in a Stooges revue that was both credible and powerful. Still, no matter how much the music at Ackerman roared and dirged and just generally aggressed, the central fact remained that none of those singers was named Iggy Pop.
For the length of a perfectly built set of Stooges barechestnuts (opening with "Loose," taking on "I Wanna Be Your Dog" just three songs in!), solidly rhythmed by "newcomer Mike" and Scotty, outlined and elaborated on and fuzzed up by the unfortunately underamplified guitarist Ron, there Iggy was, singing and whooping and snaking and pogoing and shaking and leaping and strutting and undulating in ways that elude humans one-third his age. He pushed against the warm air; he did spells and tricks against time. He mounted the speakers, his androgynous humping motions writ large in silhoutte and shadow. Yes, this was the desert palm trees and rusty mountains on the horizon, dust in your mouth and your nose and your eyes, merchants selling you 12 ounces of water for two dollars but this was no hallucination, not even when saxophonist Steve Mackay surprise-appeared to reprise his hotwork for the Stooges' closing "1970/Funhouse/L.A. Blues." As Iggy sang, "We've been separated for far too long . . . I came to play/Let me in!," the lyrics had an obvious added significance: He was back with his old playmates, his anti-dignified elder statesmen, and somehow, together, in giving this collective no-mind middle-finger against decay, they had done something every bit as defiant and remarkable as anything these guys did three decades ago. Unbelievable, unforgettable, untoppable . . . The fuckin' Stooges! (Jay Babcock)
it'd be cute to open a review of Coachella '03 by playing on Forrest Gump's famous
saying. You know, Rock festivals are like a box of chocolates, you never know
what you're gonna get. This was certainly the case on Saturday as 41 acts performed
on multiple stages. Excited about an introduction to the music of U.K. bands Idlewild
and South? Sorry, you'll wait out their back-to-back sets in the parking lot on
a disgraceful two-hour queue. Interested in the prospect of seeing Queens of the
Stone Age in their native high desert? Whoops, the group's massive rock will be
rendered indistinguishable by the booming sound system. Psyched to hear the irresistible
post-punk pop of Hot Hot Heat? Nope, they'll be too trebly for the sound engineers
to handle. The best bet was to go a-wandering, treating the festival as a kind
of See's Valentine Sampler for left-of-center pop.
The sets were programmed in such a way that there was in fact a method to the madness. The Coachella Stage featured big-name acts (Beastie Boys) and those with cross-genre appeal (N.E.R.D.). The Outdoor Theater had hippies (Spearhead) and hip-hop (Talib Kweli) and goodtime music (Kinky). Three auxiliary stages appealed to hardcore showgoers the cavernous Sahara Tent for boom-chick-boom-chick dance music, M.C. Escher projections and laser light shows; the Mohave and Gobi tents for emergent and underground sounds. With attractions ranging from the Stones Throw DJ crew and Badly Drawn Boy to the Libertines and Amon Tobin, the Mohave and Gobi tents should have offered a joyous afternoon of buzz bands, but the shows were marred by bad sound (HHH), cranky performers (BDB), too many attendees (Ladytron) or too few (Stereo Total). Late in the evening, technical difficulties reared their ugly heads, throwing the proceedings off schedule and causing the Libertines to abort their set after only two songs.
The hipster tents, though, did have their highlights. At dusk, Stereo Total's internationalist pop drew two dozen concertgoers onstage for an impromptu dance party. Midafternoon, the Rapture performed an inspired set of post-punk fueled by dub-and-disco rhythms; the less-than-ideal sonics only amplified bassist Matt Safer's obsessive-compulsive riffs, and, thankfully, you weren't meant to understand guitarist-vocalist Luke Jenner's yelped lyrics. Theirs was a brighter, less politically charged rendition of PiL and Gang of Four. In times like these, some darkness and rhetoric would be welcome, but utility player Gabriel Andruzzi with his sax, his cowbell and his silly little dance just made you want to move. There's time for that too, eh?
In general, the whole Coachella vibe was way more Leni Riefenstahl than D.A. Pennebaker. Cordoned-off, transgressive art filled the midway; the VIP section was dotted with PlayStation 2 consoles; blond SoCal residents outnumbered gnarly post-apocalyptic Lollapalooza wannabes 5-to-1. And was it just me, or did all 30,000 attendees flock en masse to Beastie Boys' headlining performance? The Beasties cruised through a tight, crowd-pleasing set filled with greatest hits and some bland political protest ("In a world gone mad it's hard to think right . . . It's not the politicians but their actions I despise," sayeth their MP3-only protest anthem. Okay, but what do we do about it?) All in all, I was reminded of a praline truffle. They taste great going down, but consume too many and you'll get fat and lazy. (Alec Hanley Bemis)
At least 30,000 people descended on the polo grounds in Indio last weekend, shuttling madly between two stages, three tents, a zillion merch booths (and too few Port-O-Pottys) to celebrate the joy of music. Who cares if it was hotter 'n a rat's ass, or that the sound system occasionally sucked or that the sets ran a bit behind schedule? There's something life-affirming about dodging freaks, scenesters, celebs and thrill seekers on smooth lawns as desert winds buffet your sunburned face. If Coachella does have a negative, it's the embarrassment of aural riches being unearthed simultaneously. What's a frazzled fan to do?
Amon Tobin Brit-Brazilian superjock and king of the Ninja Tune roster was lucky to have gotten a headlining time slot, but he was up against Beastie Boys, and you can imagine how lifeless the Mohave tent was at 11 p.m. Still, Tobin mixed the best parts of his discography and, swear to god, mashed up the Velvets' White Light/White Heat and Hendrix's Electric Ladyland for 20 minutes. And somebody seriously underestimated Ladytron's wattage, squeezing them into the Mohave tent as though they're some nu-jack electroclashers; that didn't stop their rendering the crowd dumbstruck, especially now that ice queen Helen Marnie has learned to unleash the womanly side of her vocal powers. The drum & bass was banging with Dillinja & Lemon D and its auxiliary circle of hardcore kids flipping pop-'n'-lock hybrids and this one freakish cat who was, like, vibrating.
All in all, an excellent though grueling day of high-quality sights and sounds, perhaps best summed up afterward by one screaming young woman in the 5-mile-square parking lot: "We've been looking for the car a fucking hour and 15 minutes!" Sunday was off the hook, too; big up to my German wiggaz Mouse on Mars. (Andrew Lentz)
all so overwhelming," summed up HOT HOT HEAT's DANTE DECARO about the alternative
frock 'n' stroll circus otherwise known as Coachella, and the Canadian guitarist
was just talking about the VIP area. Though the fenced-off section boasted shade,
cocktails and a bevy of familiar faces sporting more trucker hats and ass-crack
than a Teamsters convention (as well as dressed-down thespians DREW BARRYMORE,
CAMERON DIAZ, Camy's ex JARED LETO, JULIETTE LEWIS, ANDY DICK, a bikini-clad MICHELLE
RODRIGUEZ and a black-tressed ALICIA SILVERSTONE; rockers TOMMY LEE, TRENT REZNOR
and OGRE; and Silver Lake royalty including KEITH MORRIS, SPACELAND's MITCHELL
FRANK and JENNIFER TEFFT, THE PURPLE CIRCLE salon crew, and VIDA's FRED ERIC and
his very preggers gal pal ROLLER), the more exclusive backstage/trailer area offered
an even swankier oasis. Many of our well-connected pals wore a veritable rainbow
of wristbands (the coveted colors being blue, green and orange), but our pink
press band proved limiting the first day, so on Sunday we opted to work our way
007-style to the promised land, where the upper echelon of hangers-on enjoyed
free grub, games and couches galore amid artist's trailers complete with personalized
décor (QUEENS OF THE NEW STONE AGE's room boasted vintage deer wallpaper,
while RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS were given a mini-yard complete with a blow-up swimming
pool) and golf carts for cruising the perimeter of the site a delightful
alternative to hiking from tent to stage to tent. Still, we walked the walk a
lot over the weekend: to the film tent, where CLUB BANG's PIPER FERGUSON's NYC
music-scene flick Our Time wowed throngs of Yeah Yeah Yeahsworshiping, spiked-belt
babes; to the sweltering Mohave tent, where newbies S.T.U.N. and IMA ROBOT woke
up the early risers and THE LIBERTINES got a second chance to rock after being
bumped Saturday; and to the Gobi tent, where IAN McKAYE answered questions about
livin' la vida straight-edge and why he agreed to participate in an event that
charged $80 a ticket. (The answer? Patti Smith once told McKaye that if he's given
a forum to express his views, he oughtta take it.) Alas, no unscheduled performers
took the stage (Radiohead was the big rumor), unless you count a mo(ck)hawked
KELLY OSBOURNE sorta jamming with N*E*R*D. Or was that just a mirage? (Lina Lecaro)
Mile Road's review of Coachella
After a tedious, tortured, and tepidly received set by the 'Group' of the Moment, Detroit's White Stripes, there's a quick changeover as the crew sets up the Stooge stage. Rock's green drum set, looking brand new, is put up dead center, and Ron's bank of Marshalls are switched on while a tech tunes up his white Fender guitar. Mike Watts set-up is to Rock's right, a little behind the line of Ron's amps, and just about even with Rock's throne. Two mikes are set up for Iggy, and then Eric (E-wreck), Iggy's son and road manager, checks 'em out.
The crowd is pretty quiet. About 6000 people crammed in close to the stage. All our previously laid plans of manuevering right up to Ron's amps are thwarted, first by the 10 foot wide moat in front of the stage, and second by the mega-thick crowd determined to stand their ground. Most of them appear to have been born after 1969.
With nary an intro, on comes the band and cranks up right away. It sounds good, 'cause it's "LOOSE" and Ron's got just the right amount of feedback into his lead. Rock hits the cymbal just about perfect, and on comes Iggy to a great cry. He's wearing his usual stage outfit of nothing but tight blue jeans. Ron is playing with a quiet discipline and Scott looks real solid pounding away with a backwards baseball cap. It's a little hard to hear all of Ron's authoritative playing, because we're in front of the speakers and they've got Watt' bass up a little too loud, along with Rock's bass drum. Iggy is doing his patented run-all-over-the-stage thing, but he seems to lack a bit of intensity, maybe 'cause I'm used to seeing him up close.
Next up is 'DOWN ON THE STREET' and the band is sounding better and better. Ron's playing and presence is that of a master. He's obviously ecstatic to be playing HIS songs again, as they were meant to be heard, before a huge crowd. Having never heard Rock Action with the Stooges before, he sounds a bit more tentative than I remember his playing with Sonic's, but he's getting into it more with every beat. Watt is hanging bit a back, acquitting himself quite well, and gives an average guy insight; like he's looking around, blown away by playing with the Asheton Brothers, backing up Iggy, and trying to pin it down at the same time.
They jam a bit on 'STREET'and sound better and better. They're starting to get into it, and segue into '1969.'. It's a full-on version, it sounds FUCKIN' GREAT. Hey, nobody can play the Stooges like the Stooges! At that moment, I consider my $75 and 11 hours of driving well spent. IT'S THE FUCKING STOOGES, MAN!
After a brief bit of blather from Mr. Osterberg, they go into 'I WANNA BE YOUR DOG.' Once again played as it should be, with Ronâ's guitar on the edge of feedback and a relentless pounding of Rock Action. Watt's a little florid on the bass line, but what the hey. Iggy's getting into it now, more demonstrative as always. He seems a little blown away by the whole thing now, even though it was supposedly always his call. "We're the Stooges!!!" They go into 'T.V. EYE' and I'm gettin one from the chick standing next to me - always a great moment. The volume has gone up a bit, and you can hear Rock even louder. Once again, Ron demonstrates his sheer 'master of the caster' role, he;s in total control of his instrument but pushes the music up and out, like the way it was meant to be played. Thanks Ron! You're the greatest!
"TV EYE" has a perfect ending, and Watt looks quite pleased with himself. Why the fuck not, Watt? Way to go! Iggy has a brief rap about being "nobody"( earning a big chuckle), and that's the intro into what else, "DIRT". This is a Stooge opus, and Rock is just that. Meanwhile, Ron takes his license and plays the first of 3 solos, the first fast, the second spaced-out, and the third a mixture of the previous two, taking the whole thing up a notch while the singer gets into the ironic aspect of the tune. It occurs to the crowd that maybe we'e all dirt. Every bit of nonsense, garbage and lies we've sucked up since 1970 vanishes into the cosmos and we're all STOOGES on the DIRT.
Iggy gets a little more loquacious after that, and asks "Are ya happy now?" (as if, happy THE STOOGES are finally playing again) -- "I'm happy, FUCKIN' happy!." The crowd roars. In general, though, he's got not much to say besides the F-word. Then, it's "REAL COOL TIME" and I'm not sure, but this is the one they had to start over. I'm wishing Ron would turn it up a bit. "NO FUN" is up next, and by the end Iggy is back by Rock's drum kit, exhorting him and in general turning it up. Watt looks valiantly for clues as to where this thing is going to go next, and hangs in there. It's teetering at the edge of abandon, as it should, and comes crunching to a quick close. Next up is a song I'm not sure about, cause I can't read my own writing, but it rocks. Then Iggy goes on a rant, "WE ARE THE STOOGES! I'M FUCKIN 'IGGY!" and they blast off into "1970", Iggy clearly into this one. He's coming over to our side of the stage, energy showering off of him, the crowd gets a dose and leaps up together. On the other side of the stage, he's up on a riser, the wind from behind whipping his hair, what a forgotten boy. He FEELS ALRIGHT! On comes legendary sax player Steve MacKay, and the tune goes immediately to the next level. Iggy's gotta get it turned up in his monitors and eventually the whole place can hear Steve's gut-busting tenor drive. Rock is pounding away, suspending the beat perfectly, and Ron's tonal shards perfect counterpoint.
"FUNHOUSE" is the logical successor and it starts quick and gets down & dirty. Iggy gets in, and they bring it down. With the live tenor sax pinning it down, you can really hear the soulful roots of THE STOOGES. This is an R & B band we're hearing! Never mind all the post-mortem analysis of "primitive," "basic," "punk" (continuing right up to this day!) ---- this band has way more to it than those dismissive phrases could ever mean. It's a beautiful organic sound, fully grown and of a whole, one that sprang up from SE Michigan mud and festered and flowered for 30 years. "COME INTO THE FUNHOUSE CAUSE WE BEEN SEPARATED, BABY, FAR TOO LONG!"
They came to play, and that's what they did. It was cool. Wish you all coulda been there. Whether or not THE STOOGES will tour is unresolved, it could have been a one-off. But this is a world-class band, now or 30 years ago. I'd put them up against anyone, in or out of the ring.
Thanks Ron! Thanks Scott! Thanks Mike! Thanks Steve! Thanks Jim! Thanks Goldenvoice! Thanks JM! Thanks Indio! Thanks Cali! Thanks All! KEEP REAL-O-MIND!
Continued from day one:
Pity the poor acts that must perform early on Sunday afternoon, the second day of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival. Much of the audience is either sunburned, worn out, or hung over from the day before, and another full day of non-stop music can quickly grow tiresome if the first acts onstage can't get the crowd energized.
Thankfully, Sweden's the Soundtrack Of Our Lives were up to the task, with vocalist Ebbot Lundberg appearing onstage in a black robe and scarf and looking like some long-lost 1960s rock god. The band's songs were punctuated Ian Person's leg kicks and guitar windmills, but the band has more depth than most garage-rock revivalists.
The 20-member strong Polyphonic Spree added a healthy dose of the bizarre with its blend of Queen-style pomp rock and salvation-seeking, white-robed choir. If frontman Tim DeLaughter was in real life the holy man he portrays on stage, he doubtless would have made thousands of converts after the group's smile-worthy exhibition.
The Mars Volta unveiled material from its long-awaited debut album (due in June from Universal) and foreshadowed what may be one of the year's more intriguing releases with its mainstage afternoon set. Featuring Cedric Bixler and Omar Rodriquez from At The Drive-In, the group builds on the former band's fury, but mixes in off-the-wall rhythms fit for a jazz combo and gospel-like keyboards, creating an enticing mix of hard rock and soul.
Sonic Youth maintained the mainstage's momentum with a blistering aural assault that showcased the band's patented noise rock sound. Guitarist Thurston Moore made a plea to festival organizers for more female rock acts before letting his wife, bassist Kim Gordon take charge of the proceedings. The set covered material from the band's formative years ("Confusion Is Sex"), as well as newer songs like "The Empty Page" and "Rain on Tin," before culminating with a near-perfect rendition of "Sugar Kane."
The White Stripes overcame some major sound issues to deliver a blistering performance that hit all the highlights of their four studio albums. Guitarist Jack White wailed at the mic and wrenched Hendrix-worthy solos from his instrument like a man possessed. After ace renditions of such tracks as "Hotel Yorba," "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," and the superb new single "Seven Nation Army," it's no longer any secret at all why this duo's name is on everyone's lips.
Appearing for the first time since the mid-1970s, the Stooges were in prime (or primal) shape. Leader Iggy Pop proved he can still shake, wither, spit, and hump an amplifier with more reckless emotion and unbridled energy than any of the younger brethren on the bill. Ripping into "Loose" and "1969," the Stooges instantly proved to be Coachella's dirtiest, sexiest, and rawest band, and when Iggy announced "I feel young" prior to showering the crowd with spit-up beer, who could dare argue?
Standing in for the band's now deceased original bassist Dave Alexander, Mike Watt turned his instrument into a night-stalking predator through "Dirt," while Scott Asheton's perfectly sloppy guitar solo brought the song to a crashing halt. When Iggy turned to Scott and ordered him to start "Fun House" with a simple "go," the latter obliged by hunkering over his instrument and starring down his vocalist, and one hoped that this time around the group wouldn't stop.
The Libertines, whose Saturday night set was cut short due to technical difficulties and a midnight curfew, were given a prime Sunday slot in absolution, and the group responded with one of the stronger rock performances of the fest. Likewise, New York quintet Interpol did not disappoint with its set opposite headliners the Red Hot Chili Peppers, offering mesmerizing takes on "PDA," "Stella Was a Diver and She Was Always Down," and two new songs written since the release of its Matador debut, "Turn on the Bright Lights."
The Sahara Tent proved a haven for dance music lovers, first during a powerful set from Deep Dish (highlight: a remix of Coldplay's "Clocks") and later by way of the electronic bliss that is Underworld. The latter act packed its full light and laser display into the tent, going to work on both the mind and body with such favorites as "Two Months Off," "King of Snake," "Twist," "Born Slippy Nuxx," and "Mo' Move."
In the smaller Gobi tent, Jane's Addiction/Porno For Pyros frontman Perry Farrell made a surprise DJ appearance early in the evening, spinning world-leaning electronica, which he occasionally sung over live. Later, a showcase for the acts on the Definitive Jux label found Mr. Lif, Aesop Rock, Murs, and El-P (backed by RJD2) trading the mic for more than two hours of socially aware hip-hop. The showstopper, however, came near the end of the night, when Mr. Lif put together a caustic condemnation of fast food and globalization. West Coast rapper Aceyalone also made a guest appearance to perform a new track recently written with El-P.
Back on the mainstage, the Red Hot Chili Peppers settled in for a performance dominated by their recent string of modern rock radio hits, including opener "By the Way," "Around the World," "Californication," "Otherside," and "Scar Tissue." Although it would have been nice to hear some older, less commercially minded cuts (do they ever trot out their cover of Stevie Wonder's "Higher Ground" anymore?), the Peppers were still a great deal of fun to watch. Frontman Anthony Kiedis attempted to harness the large crowd to affect next week's Nielsen SoundScan album chart when he asked everyone to "buy at least one CD by Fugazi and the Germs."
As the Peppers' early '90s evergreen "Give It Away" blared through the speakers, the Coachella crowd began to exit into the breezy desert night. With it came the opportunity to count how many different acts one may have experienced over the course of two days, whose CDs need to be purchased promptly, and when it would be time to book arrangements to do it all again next year.
Jonathan Cohen, Todd Martens, Ben French, Indio, Calif.
By Richard Cromelin, Times Staff Writer
In Iggy & the Stooges' 1973 landmark album "Raw Power," singer Iggy Pop, previously Iggy Stooge, memorably casts himself as "the world's forgotten boy."
The Coachella rock festival in Indio this weekend seems designed in part to prove that he's anything but forgotten. Every aggressive performer on the bill, from the Red Hot Chili Peppers' Anthony Kiedis to the three Beastie Boys to the Hives' Howlin' Pelle, owe something to the whiplash dynamism Iggy brought to rock in the late '60s. And every raw representative of the so-called garage-rock revival, starting with fellow Detroiters the White Stripes, do what they do in large part because the Stooges fought hard to make a place for rock's primal impulses.
One other act will testify to their importance: the Stooges themselves, with Iggy and his original bandmates Ron and Scott Asheton on stage together for the first time since the mid-'70s. It's one of the most highly anticipated moments of the act-packed weekend.
"There had been intermittent suggestions to do some sort of reunion and I always stayed away from it," Pop said this week. "But since I was making a record and I wanted some guests, I thought, 'Well who would be the coolest guests?' And it came down to Ron and Scott, particularly because those are the two guys who got behind me when I was Joe Zilch basically."
The threesome recorded four songs for Iggy's upcoming album, opening the door to other options.
"It was super cool, I couldn't believe it," said Pop, 56. "So at that point it was a living unit, and so the possibility was there to do a gig, and somebody asked. That's all it really was. It just kind of happened naturally like a real band. This isn't the Eagles or the Sex Pistols.... It happened first in the studio with new tracks for release. I wouldn't do this had that not happened."
They probably won't play the new songs at Coachella (where they'll be joined by L.A.'s Mike Watt on bass), but Iggy said that the sound is unmistakable.
"If somebody put it on you'd say ... 'Is that the ... Stooges?' Yeah, it sounds like the band. There's one that's a definite departure, a step further, and there are three that sound much closer."
That's great news to a certain brand of rock fan for whom the Stooges are the Beatles of Basic, the source of everything significant in the music for the past three decades. They made only three formal albums, but in the process they redefined -- or rediscovered -- what rock could mean.
The Stooges crawled out of the Ashetons' basement in Ann Arbor, Mich., and confronted a complacency that could be softened only by the creepiest of dirges and breached only by the most the ferocious sonic battering ram. With Ron playing guitar and his brother Scott on drums (the late David Alexander was the original bassist), they were a troglodytic reminder of rock's primal foundations.
"I started out just wanting to front a musically adventurous band which would of necessity work with very, very basic skills," Pop said this week. "My skills were so basic, so I had to find some guys as basic as I was. And they were coming more from the standard high school dropouts on the corner wanting to be rock stars, and we sort of met somewhere in the middle."
They also demanded attention by virtue of the scrawny, bare-chested singer's punishing, unpredictable stage persona.
"We know if you were gonna have some sort of a rock band, there had to be kineticism, there had to be a lift to it, and we weren't really getting it," Pop recalled. "We were livin' in a farmhouse on the edge of town, and it was winter, and one day our manager refused to heat our rehearsal room, and I went crazy.
"And when I went crazy, the anger caused me to insult him as I sang, and ... I began dancin' around as I insulted him, and the band began to play in a way they'd never really played before, and at that moment we had a style. The one thing fed the other. We had a style.... There was a lot of aggro involved and that grew in all sorts of ways. But there was always something positive under it."
Anti-virtuosity, brink-of-chaos maneuvers and remorseless riffing are standard fare now, but it just wasn't done in that more polite era, at least with any expectation of being taken seriously.
The Stooges were mocked and reviled by the mainstream, but an audience of core rock fans grasped them as a lifeline. That following gave rise to glam (David Bowie became a Stooges patron and collaborator) and punk (the Stooges' "No Fun" was the last song the Sex Pistols played live before breaking up), later to grunge and garage rock -- every movement that treasured statement and individuality over dull professionalism.
After "Raw Power," which added guitarist James Williamson to the lineup, Iggy (born James Osterberg) embarked on a varied solo career, hanging in the past all expectations, given his legendarily self-destructive way, and assuming the patina of an elder statesman.
If rock doesn't currently need the radical jolt the Stooges administered three decades ago, Sunday's set (currently the band's only planned performance) should still draw undivided attention from the group's spiritual heirs.
"When Nirvana and all that was coming up, it was, 'Well how do you feel about grunge being based on [your stuff]?' " said Pop. "And before that it was 'How do you feel about alternative?' It comes up from time to time.
"Sometimes there's just a chance similarity.... And then sometimes you actually hear people sing certain of your techniques or thought processes, using your stuff to re-create. Yeah, I feel fortunate, because there's a fine line that divides isolated crazy from visionary artiste. So one feels, 'Oh, this should help.' "
Iggy & the Stooges play Sunday, 9:10 p.m
for the article Steve and Bill! Can't wait to hear all about it!
our Minds on the Burning Sands: Steve Bartels from San Antonio, TX
The Stooges reunion show at Coachella was 47 minutes of blistering assault. The band was tight and heavy. We got there in the middle of Sonic Youth's set, sort of sat through Jack Johnson, tolerated the White Stripes, and werethen treated to the holy grail of my musical life. The band blew through 10 songs from the first two albums (see set list below). Ron was in fine form as he riffed his way through the oldies and Scott, looking and sounding particularly thuggish, bashed out the primordial rhythm. Mike Watt did an excellent job filling in for Dave, and was clad in a black Dave T-shirt. Steven MacKay even played on the last two numbers! Iggy only made the band restart one song (Dirt).
The highlight of the gig was a 7.5-minute version of "Funhouse" to end the night, a song which Iggy has never performed solo. It was followed by a short freak-out as they walked off the stage.
Iggy seemed really excited and happy and introduced everyone (and himself!) The crowd, which had thinned out considerably after the White Stripes, seemed be a mixture of hard-core old fogies (us!) and people with blank expressions of fear on their faces.
All in all, an extremely memorable event, especially taking into account the beautiful setting, the short lines (by Sunday afternoon, anyway) for parking, toilets, water, etc. It was nice and cool at night and the sound was good.
The Stooges are still a world class band capable of blowing nyone and everyone
of the stage and making material that I've been listening to for the last 30+
years sound fresh. Scott kicks like no other drummer before or since. Rons definative
stylings are quite simply THE> STOOGES. Add Mr. Mackay on sax to 1970 and Funhouse
and I really have no need to ever hear The Trolls or anyone else (cept the stooges)
play the material I heard Sunday again. A perfect opportunity for Iggy to give
it a rest and just play all that great solo material he's put out over the years
that we never get a chance to hear on his tours. Iggy heself was in fine> >
> form. throughout up to and including his tastless nazi march behind ommander
Asheton as they left the stage. The most remarkable reunion gig (or any gig for
that matter) I have ever seen by any band at any time anywhere...PERIOD! Mike
April 28, 2003
By the time anyone reads this, a comprehensive post-mortem might be expected. That's a laugh. Maybe by Friday, when the dust will have left our eyes and we can see some bigger picture.
For now, which is exactly 3 a.m. Monday, we're simply assessing, hoping the coffee-and-Krispy Kreme high doesn't lead to hyperbole.
There were, after all, three supreme standouts here that quite likely were more brilliant than anything the event has ever offered - the first SoCal grand-scale performance (a galvanizing one) from the White Stripes; the unreal return of Iggy & the Stooges, in remarkably muscular form after 28 years apart; and the fest-closing mania of Fischerspooner's techno-show, undoubtedly considered some kind of star-making moment by those who sought it out.
Basic recap: Coachella '03, Empire Polo Field, Indio, Day Two, attended by (my guess) somewhat less than 55,000.
Coachella Valley Music & Art Festival - Day 2
WHEN: April 27
Iggy & the Stooges, the White Stripes, Fischerspooner, Underworld, Red Hot
Chili Peppers, Jack Johnson, Café Tacuba, Primal Scream, Thievery Corporation
And that means people are low-key enough to let the music find them, instead of impatiently scurrying from one happening to the next.
Where Saturday dragged, Sunday was bliss with an ideal soundtrack for grazing on the grass - led by Dallas' one-of-a-kind Polyphonic Spree, at least 20 members strong, all in white robes, making like the Flaming Lips in a revival of "Jesus Christ Superstar."
Or Ben Folds alone at his piano, taking requests, teaching three-part harmony. Or Tortoise, banging out bell tones with all manner of mallets. Or Café Tacuba, shifting from romantic mariachi to sweeping Europop to fractured disco. Or, later in the day, Primal Scream bringing groove-rock with anarchistic attitude and Thievery Corporation drenching chill in outer-space reggae.
Or the many newcomers worth investigating: Ima Robot, the Von Bondies, the Kinison, the 22-20s and, rescheduled after an aborted start the night before, the Libertines, whose endearing raggedness belied any comparison to the ultra-tight Strokes.
Yet as sunlight subsided, the mood was heightened, the crowd growing hungry for chief attractions.
The main stage was something of a master class in the uses and abuses of guitar, from the overrated but passionately conveyed cacophony of the Mars Volta to the graying eminence of Sonic Youth (whose cerebral layering of off-kilter riffs took time to click) to the warm mellow of Jack Johnson, whose gentle repertoire may be limited but, gee, he's just too darn nice to dislike. (Trotting G. Love out for "Rodeo Clowns" helped.)
But it's the Stooges and the Stripes - garage-rock godfathers and their peppermint offspring - that people probably will be talking about until Memorial Day.
Every bit as compellingly theatrical and instinctively dynamic as they can be in clubs, the Stripes were a sensation, pure and undiluted - a jolt of honesty dressed up as lo-fi Southern gothic blues in an era of far sneakier charades.
Accompanied only by ex-wife Meg's you-lead-I'll-follow drumming, Jack White was revelatory all over again - plowing past initial monitor trouble nearly unfazed, delivering fretwork that, OK, lacks the finesse of Hendrix or Clapton or any of the great slide players but compensates with intensity.
Set highlights: the new "Elephant" material, be it the creeper "Seven Nation Army" or the thornier "Black Math" or the filthy roadhouse swagger of "Ball and Biscuit." Bits of fun and sweetness: "Hotel Yorba," "I Think I Smell a Rat," "We're Going to Be Friends" and Meg mewling off-key through the appropriate "In the Cold, Cold Night."
Not to be outdone, the Stooges erupted furiously, Iggy bounding on stage stewed in testosterone, psyched to teach the day's upstarts a history lesson.
Which he did through might and dare. Never mind his appearance, shirtless and beyond buff, grinding against an amp stack. Had he stood stock-still (as if) to bellow and shout "I Wanna Be Your Dog" and "Dirt" and "T.V. Eye," he would have made his point - that the Stooges were punk and metal before both terms existed, and that their sublime discord helped give rise to essentially every act with an electric guitar on the bill.
The set couldn't have been sharper, Iggy hollering out for one after another ("Noooooo Funnnnnn!"), rarely letting the band pause. Equal kudos are due Mike Watt. Taking nothing away from the late Dave Alexander, but Watt's love of this fundamental music is what held this reunion together, the bassist serving guitarist Ron Asheton's screaming solos with the sort of reverence he gave up only for D. Boon, his departed soulmate from the Minutemen.
As for headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers and second-stage closer Interpol, well, I opted to take in tent life instead. (My sources tell me the Chili Peppers' typically hit-and-miss set, centered on "Californication" and "By the Way" material, was nothing out of the ordinary.)
At Gobi, the Def Jux hip-hop crew first drove its audience away with too much DJ spinning, then brought it back via hard raps from Mr. Lif and Aesop Rock. At Sahara, the thrilling release of Underworld finally had that massive space properly hopping, though Richie Hawtin was unable to sustain such buzz.
Fischerspooner, meanwhile, fighting against a late start, well lived up to the hype, establishing its mash-up of tech-pop, gay camp, Cirque du Soleil and robotically sexy choreography as the most exhilarating experience of its kind since Pet Shop Boys' heyday.
Indeed, this is something altogether wilder, hyper-andrenalized, like Dead or Alive gone mad, ringleader Casey Spooner pulling out all the stops - stage-diving, stripping down to a gold lamé bikini, verbally riling the crowd. His reward: extreme adulation and, as far as I'm aware, the only encore of the fest.
Here's hoping Fischerspooner returns to play, say, the Wiltern. In any case, the troupe's in-your-face dazzle was a fitting finale for this Coachella gathering - one last burst of energy in the desert before the masses started crawling back to reality.
30 years later, Stooges reunite
April 29, 2003
For 45 minutes Sunday night, the Coachella music festival was treated to an exhilarating, historic performance from the band that helped define Detroit music and rewrote the rock template. Vocalist Iggy Pop reunited with brothers Ron and Scott Asheton for the their first show in three decades, a raw-power climax to a music weekend in the desert valley outside Palm Springs.
At a festival packed with solid performances -- and an inescapable Motor City flair -- the Stooges reigned. The band's 10-song set elicited the weekend's only clamor for an encore from a crowd of about 30,000, visibly recharged after two days of heat and partying.
It was classic combustible Stooges: With an ecstatic yelp from a shirtless Iggy, the band pummeled into "Loose" and launched a brash performance that sometimes teetered on the edge of chaos -- a set coated in rock 'n' roll grime and pulsing with urgency. There was little chatter between songs, as the band plucked chestnuts off its 1969 debut album and 1970's "Fun House."
You can never be sure what you'll get when elder rockers reconvene -- there's always potential for disappointment if the old magic fails to materialize. The Asheton brothers, whose relationship with their extroverted vocalist was notoriously rocky, were pulled out of semiretirement for this gig, Ron from Ann Arbor and Scott from Sarasota, Fla.
But if they were nervous, it didn't show. Scott Asheton quickly slipped into a propulsive groove with guest bassist Mike Watt, and Ron Asheton proved nimble-fingered in a series of volcanic solos. By the time the players got to "T.V. Eye" midway in, they'd caught their full stride. The set was often sloppy -- "1970" got a restart -- but recklessness is what makes it the Stooges in the first place.
Out in the crowd, cell phones were thrust into the air. Fans too young to have previously caught a Stooges show -- or even an Iggy solo concert -- chanted along to a band they've heard name-checked by countless of their own rock contemporaries. And 30,000 sets of eyes followed every move from Iggy, ready to see the human bomb detonate.
The leathered vocalist, who turned 56 last week, is just a bit slower these days, and his voice has eased into a lower register. But Sunday the wiry front man was a characteristic bundle of energy; within minutes he was writhing sexually atop a tall stack of amps. "Fun House" closed the show with its cacophonic coda, and the four strode offstage with Ron Asheton's guitar buzzing on the floor, likely in a pool of sweat.
The Stooges were never a blockbuster commercial success. The band's real assets lie in the influence that blossomed after its mid-'70s split, and shades of the Stooges had already made themselves known Coachella weekend. You could hear it bleeding from garage bands such as the Hives, in the Iggy-inspired "UUNGH!" from vocalist Josh Homme in Queens of the Stone Age. It was all confirmation of the lasting shadow of the Stooges, the band that helped ignite the punk revolution after forming in the Ashetons' Ann Arbor basement in 1967.
Stooges fans elsewhere should cross their fingers: The band hasn't committed to a full-fledged reunion tour, but the success of Sunday's show could be the green light the band needed. At the very least, the Ashetons are already appearing on Iggy's upcoming solo album, scheduled for release in the summer.
The Stooges capped a weekend in which Detroit flaunted its revitalized cultural cachet. Their set was preceded by another exceptional showing from the White Stripes, now firmly atop their game. Despite early mix troubles that frustrated Jack White, the duo carved out a punchy performance that served as the ideal set-up for the Stooges -- a one-two punch from Detroit's new and old guards.
Earlier Sunday afternoon, Jack and Meg White had stood at side stage for a high-wire set from Detroit's Von Bondies, who unveiled songs from the album they're recording with former Talking Head Jerry Harrison.
Von Bondies guitarist Jason Stollsteimer was among the masses anticipating the Stooges' show. Backstage after his performance -- during which he accidentally smacked his forehead on his guitar and nearly knocked himself out -- Stollsteimer reflected on the heritage of guttural Detroit rock.
"It's songs about drinking and being bored," he said. "Being bored in a city where there's music and nothing else to do. We all come from that environment -- the city is desolate but beautiful."
News of the Stooges reunion had prodded Detroit scenester Joe Blatchford and friends to make the Coachella trip.
"We figured the chance to see them playing again is so tentative," said Blatchford. "I'm 33, and I've been waiting for this my whole life."
Among a row of vendors at the center of the festival field, Made in Detroit clothing proprietor Robert Stanzler was enjoying brisk business. By Sunday he'd sold out of several items bearing his familiar Detroit logo, reaffirmation that the city's name carries a hip prestige beyond Michigan's borders.
"The foreign journalists have been stopping by all weekend," he said. "They're all asking, 'When's the next thing coming out of Detroit?' It's not 'if' anymore."
It's clearly a good time to be in Detroit -- and out in the music world bearing the city's name.
"Detroit is our business," said Stanzler, as another round of buyers swapped cash for caps and jackets. "And business is good."
Times Staff Writer
While several groups on Sunday's bill -- from veterans the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the main stage to newcomers the 22-20s in a tent -- can entertain and possibly intrigue us for a while, it's rare when a band steps forward with the captivating originality and craft that can absorb us so fully that it actually alters the way we think about the rock experience.
Two bands that fall into the latter category, Iggy & the Stooges and the White Stripes, provided the most memorable moments Sunday with back-to-back sets on the festival's main stage -- each act facing quite different tests.
For the Stooges, who laid a blueprint in the late '60s for the fury and aggressiveness of punk, the challenge was playing with enough intensity in a reunion performance to demonstrate just what was so magical about the band before it broke up three decades ago.
The Stripes, the Detroit duo of singer-guitarist Jack White and drummer (and ex-wife) Meg White, are increasingly hailed as the most compelling new American band in years. They needed to make a case for why so many fans and critics feel the Stripes are knocking on the door of greatness.
Because they have never played a Los Angeles-area venue larger than the 900-capacity El Rey, the Stripes faced an enormous hurdle in stepping up to the main outdoor stage here, where a huge chunk of the 33,000 on hand Sunday stood in the cool night air to see if the band can live up to all the buzz.
Jack White did seem a bit rattled at the start, when his grimaces made it clear that something was wrong with the sound equipment. After a brief pause for adjustments, White struggled to find an emotional groove.
White hit his stride three songs later in the haunting imagery of "Jolene," an old Dolly Parton song about one woman trying to save her marriage from the roving eye of another, sexier and more attractive woman.
"Jolene, Jolene," the song goes. "I'm begging of you, please don't take my man / Just because you can."
White sings it with the restless urgency of an earthy Robert Johnson blues number, giving the song an even more unsettling edge by keeping it in Parton's gender.
Not only does his voice yelp and howl as he tries to convey his turmoil, he also plays guitar with an equal sense of final desperation.
The Stripes followed with "Hotel Yorba," a bright, infectious country-rock tune that represented an emotional release from the tension of "Jolene." The pair then shifted gears again to "Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground," which is set in the dark, swirling blues-rock that is the Stripes' signature sound.
From there, Jack White moved in the hour set from the macho blues posture of "Ball and Biscuit" to the delicate sweetness of "We're Going to Be Friends." Throughout, he coaxed soulful, then blistering, notes from his guitar so artfully that the instrument often seems like an extension of his voice.
It wasn't a perfect set, but it was representative of the excitement that the Stripes have been generating in clubs in recent years -- and White's hability to transfer it to the big stage speaks well of the duo's ability to reach a wide pop-rock audience without compromising its deeply personal music.
There is something in the restless fervor of White's artistic ambition and instincts that is reminiscent of Prince. It's as if they both are so under the spell of their separate muses that they don't simply re-create their music on stage but struggle to extend it. The result is that they, in effect, take the audience into their creative workshop in concerts, an experience that is as rare in pop as it is stimulating.
The Stooges, coincidentally, are also from Detroit, and the group played with such raw obsession in the old days that the shows sometimes had a frightening aura of danger.
Iggy (whose real name is James Osterberg) used to spin around the stage with such fury and abandon during super-charged Stooges anthems like "I Wanna Be Your Dog" that he would end the night bloody and bruised.
It was a level of commitment that influenced generations of singers and bands, from hard-core punk outfits such as Black Flag to punk-rock groups like the Sex Pistols and the Clash and even to such mainstream rock performers as Bono.
In Sunday's reunion, Iggy (now known as Iggy Pop) was joined by original members Ron and Scott Asheton (on guitar and drums, respectively) plus L.A. Mike Watt on bass. They played with the determination and pride of musicians who are as excited about being able to step back into the spotlight as the fans who have dreamed of seeing them again.
Iggy, now 56, still comes on stage bare-chested and with the tightest jeans he can find. He starts out most songs by planting his left foot firmly in front of him and then twisting his body into all sorts of pretzel-like shapes before taking off in aggressive spins.
But he's not just about visual effects. In Stooges songs, Iggy sang the frustrations of youth in dark, desperate tones that were as influential as his stage persona.
Still, the set suffered in its final moments from the same problem found with most reunions. Instead of being transformed by the music, you find yourself wondering if the musicians and fans are bonding on the music or simply trying to remember what once made it so essential.
Across the field in one of the festival tents, the Libertines finally made their U.S. debut Sunday after seeing their Saturday set in the tent stopped after two numbers because of curfew.
The quartet, led by singer-guitarists Peter Doherty and Carl Baret, are blessed with the renegade cool of so many English bands. They, too, have a good sense of song construction and arrive with the blessings of Clash co-leader Mick Jones, who produced the group's "Up in Bracket" album.
Of the other acts that joined the Stripes and Stooges on the main stage Sunday, the Polyphonic Spree made the biggest impression, partially because the Texas outfit consisted of a couple dozen singers and musicians, all wearing white robes.
The music has a sort of relentlessly positive feel, which leaves the Spree open to jokes about their being art-rock's version of "Up With People." But there is an eccentric edge to the group that gives it an oddly intriguing Bjorkian twist.
The Soundtrack of Our Lives, a band whose highly melodic music seems to incorporate every strain of '70s rock imaginable, proved engaging, though it didn't generate nearly the audience response that the Hives, its more distinctive fellow Swedes, did Saturday on the same stage.
Things didn't go as well as expected for Mars Volta, whose hyper-kinetic mix of soulful R&B, renegade rock force and prog-rock sophistication made it the biggest buzz of last year's Coachella festival.
The group still employs those elements, but the mix leans more on the prog-rock side, leaving the whole thing Sunday short of winning songwriting elements. It may come together on the group's debut album, which is due this summer, but the show left some doubts.
Then again, acts as powerful as the Stooges and the Stripes can take the buzz out of a lot of people.