The Stooges - Live in San Francisco (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Stooges

Live in San Francisco (2011)

Live show

Near the end of the Raw Power-era unreleased tune "Open Up and Bleed," the Stooges collapsed as the music morphed from fierce licks to roaring feedback. As Iggy Pop clawed across the floor, they collapsed some more. As Steve MacKaye blew discordantly on his saxophone, they collapsed some more until finally, the band descended into a single squeal as bassist Mike Watt literally banged the strings of bass against a man-sized stack of speakers. At their Dec. 4 show at San Francisco, Calif.''s Warfield Theatre, the Stooges demonstrated through energy and cacophony that they're still as (musically) wild as they were in the '70s and still know how to collapse like the legends that they are.

Probably more accurately billed as the Stooges (jam) than the Stooges, the band was composed of members from throughout the band's history, including founding member and vocalist Iggy Pop (Class of 1967), saxophonist Steve MacKaye (Class of 1970), James Williamson (Class of 1971), Mike Watt (Class of 2003) and new comer Larry Mullins who was filling in for an ailing Scott Asheton. Although the band was composed of a wide spanning collection of members, they stilled gelled together like Classic Stooges, hitting hard notes as a solid mass, only to spread apart in discordance on the way back up the eighth note, and then once more, snap together and come slamming back down.

The first half of the show featured almost the entirety of Raw Power, played in a different order. Like last years Raw Power Live the band flew through rapid renditions of the tunes, but struck so that in speed, the tunes became heavier, shaking the theatre with their almost heavy metal take on the blues.

As the band spun from tune to tune, Iggy, despite being in his sixth decade, flung himself around with the energy of a man a third his age, at times collapsing to the ground, crawling like a dog, watusi-ing, stage diving, and perpetually doing the "Iggy-skip," which is a complex leap the requires a slender body and the ability to seemingly launch off on leg while crossing it over the other and crossing one's arms. So energized was Pop that he continued to dance and jolt his body when between songs, slapping himself.

Midway through the concert, Iggy invited any and all on stage, and the space was immediately filled with 50-some attendees who danced along with Iggy, taking turns wailing the refrains from Williamson-era classics. After the song had completed, Iggy, perhaps overwhelmed with the crowd's response, seemed dazed and didn't notice the difficulty that the security guards were having removing people from the stage.

The second half of the show spread tunes throughout the Stooges' other career points, with just a few songs coming from their initial run, post-Raw Power demos and The Weirdness. This part highlighted Watt's contribution to the band. Despite seemingly having his feet nailed to the floor in a single spot, Watt seemed electrified, throwing every tendon and muscle into his strings, generating a Black Sabbath-like heaviness that popped along with the speed of hardcore.

At the end of the show, Iggy once again dropped to all fours as the band broke into "I Wanna Be Your Dog." As he rolled around The floor blindly and howled out the ode to purposeful submission, Pop seemed unsure and unconcerned with where he would end up--something that could certainly act as a metaphor for the band's career, in the best possible way.

Random notes:
-It's been a rough year for the feet of the Stooges. Earlier this year Iggy had a foot injury. Scott Asheton had to sit out the show for a foot injury and Mike Watt had a severe limp when walking off stage.

-Yo, people, don't be shy to wear earplugs. In fact, sometimes, the music is so loud that you can only hear white noise, but with earplugs, the sound gets somewhat filtered and gives you a better sound.

-The second worst concert decision I made in my life was opting to see Rush instead of the original Stooges in 2007. Rush is awesome, but I can see them pretty much any time, as opposed to the original Stooges… well, you know how that unfortunately went.

-The first worst concert decision I made was to NOT go see Joe Strummer in 2001 …