By Aaron Semer
The main stage of Bumbershoot has always been a challenge for me. I’ve seen a lot of great bands there over the years – including Sonic Youth performing shortly after all of their instruments were stolen and having to completely reinvent themselves (1999) – but man, is it a mixed bag. The weird astroturf. The pushy bros and their counterpart “woo!”-girls. The hippy dancers and those stick things they always have. The sweat. The hordes of people jamming in to see a band they probably don’t know anything about. What a mess.
I once pushed my way up toward the very front to watch a midday set from Spoon, only to have a pack of eight or so teenage girls shove past me. They watched for about five minutes, until one of them turned to her friends and said, disgustedly, “These guys are OLD!” Then they all left.
Point being, while I love Bumbershoot, I generally prefer to watch shows at one of the smaller, less popular stages. But in 2005, Iggy and The Stooges blew my mind in Memorial Stadium.
Details are a bit fuzzy, but I know for sure that one of the most chaotic things I’ve ever seen happen in a stadium went down that night. When Iggy and the band took the stage, they just kind of sauntered out. No big production. You walk out, and you play. That’s what the Stooges do. I didn’t realize until then that Mike Watt was performing bass duties. Maybe other people already knew that, but I didn’t, and it certainly ramped up my excitement level. It didn’t take long before Iggy was writhing all over like a sweaty leather snake, and the audience had been worked into a frenzy. Watt was a worthy replacement on bass. They started running through all the classics and it sounded raw and gritty, just the way it’s supposed to.
After a few songs, the entire front of the crowd was out of control and people were rushing the stage repeatedly. Security seemed worried. They were fighting with all their might to hold people back. After a few minutes of this, Iggy started yelling at security to “Let ’em onstage! Let ’em on the fuckin’ stage! They’re not gonna hurt you!”
Security, perhaps knowing full-well what Iggy had wrought, obliged. It was like the flood gates had opened. As the band played “No Fun,” a steady stream of people climbed onto the stage and didn’t stop until it was completely full. There must have been a few hundred people up there. People were jumping, dancing, falling off the edge. Somehow the music kept going, but you couldn’t see the band. After a minute or so of this, the music started to suffer. (I’ll assume that mics were knocked over, and possibly worse, but you couldn’t really tell.) Then, the music stopped. From out of the mess, Iggy emerged front and center looking slightly askew, and said “Ok, you all gotta get off the stage now.”
It took at least five minutes and a lot of help from security to clear the people. Soon enough The Stooges were back at it, but they didn’t invite anyone else onstage for the rest of the night.
This year’s Bumbershoot lineup includes Wu-Tang Clan, Elvis Costello, Afghan Whigs, Schoolboy Q, Mavis Staples, Capital Cities, The Replacements and hundreds more. Tickets are still available.
More in this series:
- Against Me! (2004)
- The Locust & Flogging Molly (2005)
- Kanye West (2006)
- John Legend (2007)
- Man Man (2008)
- Monotonix (2008)
- Patton Oswalt (2009)
- Macklemore & Ryan Lewis (2011)