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Concert Reviews:
Stooges Bring Mayhem To SXSW Stage
 

By GARY GRAFF
Of the Oakland Press

» See more SOUND CHECK



AUSTIN, Texas -- The Stooges have never done anything halfway throughout they're long history in rock 'n' roll. And the Ann Arbor-formed group hit the South By Southwest Music + Media Conference in typically fierce fashion -- especially when they were playing.

A gently reminiscing public interview on Friday (March 16th) was a bit of an anomaly. The group played in-store at Austin's Waterloo Records the same day, drawing so many people that officials estimated there were more than twice as many outside the store as in. That didn't bother frontman Iggy Pop, who simply charged out of the door to sing to the fans in the parking lot.

But the real explosion took place Saturday (March 17th), when the Stooges closed the festival with a pummelling 50-minute, 11-song set for an Esquire-sponsored showcase at the outdoor venue Stubb's -- another situation where the crowd outside the gates was equal to and perhaps even greater than what was inside -- whose ranks included comedian Dennis Miller and actress Kirsten Dunst. Pop and company charged on stage with "Loose" and kept the classics coming -- "I Wanna Be Your Dog," "TV Eye," "1970" and "Fun House" -- before using "Skull Rings," a song the Stooges recorded for Pop's 2003 solo set "Skull Ring," to transition into the fresh material from "The Weirdness," the Stooges' first new album in 34 years, including the single "My Idea of Fun."

Raw as it was, the group's playing was also envelope-seal tight, anchored by Scott "Rock Action" Asheton's drums and Mike Watts throbbing bass. Guitarist Ron Asheton displayed a more sophisticated sensibility during his solos, without sacrificing the steely, jagged edge that's his trademark, and saxophonist Steve Mackay added both soul and texture to the arrangements.

That was the for the ears; all eyes, of course, were on Pop, a shirtless dervish who was straddling across the security pit from the get-go and had dived into the crowd by the second song. Yelping and screaming in falsetto, Pop spent as much time off the stage, in the pit, as he did on, and for the encore, "No Fun," Pop -- whose jeans sank dangerously at the lower edge of his rippled torso -- pulled a couple dozen fans onto the stage to mosh and dance while the other Stooges worked their way through the song.

It was a typically bold, brash and reckless display -- exactly what we expect from the Stooges. And it will likely be replayed on April 27th, when the group comes home to play Detroit's Fox Theatre.



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