The inaugural C2SV Music Festival peaked at St. James Park for an outdoor concert featuring Bosnian Rainbows, Thee Oh Sees and headlined proto-punk rock legends Iggy and The Stooges.
Though the crowd was small at first for The Bang and Bosnian Rainbows (featuring members of The Mars Volta), it gradually built up for San Francisco’s Thee Oh Sees, who greeted the audience by saying that they had never played in San Jose before, and launched into an energetic set of fuzzed out indie rock.
Once the sun began set, and more people began to filter in, it was time for Iggy and The Stooges, who briskly walked out on stage with their instruments in hand, quickly plugged in, and guitarist James Williamson wasted no time in starting to pound out the opening riff to the title track of the seminal album “Raw Power.”
As the rest of the touring group—Mike Watt from the Minutemen on bass, Toby Dammit on drums and Steve Mackay on sax—kicked in, iconic frontman Iggy Pop came bounding out, undulating, dancing and bouncing around in only the way that he can.
Williamson, who had given a keynote address earlier in the day (he worked in tech in Silicon Valley for 30 years after the band imploded in the 1970s) had some cool effects on his amp rig to emulate the sound of an acoustic guitar, as they went right into the opening chords of “Gimme Danger” after the end of “Raw Power.”
A couple of songs later it appeared Williamson was having some trouble with his guitar setup however, and Iggy started ribbing him, exclaiming, “Looks like we’ve got some technical difficulties,” then screaming “What the fuck?!” and proceeded to smash his mic stand several times, all to the cheers of the audience, who gladly ate up his antics.
After “1970,” came a blistering version of “Search and Destroy,” with Watt’s thunderous bass providing the bedrock for Williamson’s guitar leads.
During a brief lull between tunes, Iggy introduced “Fun House” by saying, “This song has a syncopated rhythm … or here in Silicon Valley you could call it an algorithm … well, you can take this algorithm and shove it up your asshole!”
If any techies in the audience in town for the conference weren’t familiar with the Stooges or Iggy Pop beforehand, they most certainly got a swift and righteous indoctrination with Saturday’s set—after explaining that he usually invites the audience up on stage to dance, but that he felt the small stage was “too flimsy” for that, Iggy invited a girl from the crowd on stage with him, and then jumped into the throngs before him to sing, his road crew feeding out his microphone cord and maneuvering it about the way a sport fisherman might let out the line for a bit before gradually reeling it back in to the deck.
While the Stooges interspersed a few newer songs in with the old, it was the classics that really got the fans going, such as when during cult favorite “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” the band broke it down towards the end and Iggy coaxed the crowd into chanting the title line over and over again.
After “No Fun,” Iggy joked with the audience, exclaiming, “I hope nobody took Molly tonight! This isn’t the show for that!” and then delved into his solo catalog, performing an amazing version of “The Passenger,” which went from its normally subdued speak-sing into a blistering, raw sing along.
Ending their set with a cover of “Louie, Louie,” Iggy changed much of the lyrics into a dirtier version—and he cursed and swore throughout most of the set, as one would expect a rock n’ roll icon might do—one can’t help but wonder what the people staying in nearby fancy hotels or riding by the edge of the park on the VTA light rail must have been thinking as they heard the joyous cacophony radiating from the park.
While the venue could have held more people, it was nice to have the opportunity to see these legends up close without having to fight through a packed club or theater, the broad environs of the park provided the audience plenty of room to breathe and move around.
Iggy and The Stooges might be getting up there in age on paper, but it appears no one has told them that in a long time, because the amount of endless energy, enthusiasm, and well, let’s face it—Raw Power—that they exuded on Saturday night in San Jose would put any rock n’ roll band out there, regardless of age, to absolute shame.