BY: AMY HABEN
Rob Thomas, Don Fleming, and J. Mascis.
Bowery Electric’s monthly rock & roll party, Sally Can’t Dance, is usually a drunken, groovy time for most downtown rockers. With famed DJ Jonathan Toubin blasting hip shakin’ 45’s, go – go dancers, and a band to go along with the theme of the night. I had missed out on their David Bowie tribute show due to maximum capacity and trampled home mourning Bowie and my inability to sing “Five Years,” with a crowd of fans. So when The Stooges tribute show (with J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.) was announced for March, I made sure to mark it down in my calendar.
The packed room was full of tall people, especially towards the back by the bar where you couldn’t see the stage at all. I heard a man murmur to his date, “So close, yet so far…” I thought to myself, “Well do something about it then!” And slithered through the crowd and down the stairs until I saw my saving grace. There was an empty part of a bench that people were standing on, so I jumped up with help from a leather jacket sporting gentleman. Bingo! I had a clear view of the band above the bobbing femme faux-hawks and metal heads. With his pointy head ware, Trigger was the first person I noticed in the crowd, standing against the wall. Musician Cynthia Ross of the B-Girls was standing next to him. She’s one of the hosts of Sally Can’t Dance and was Stiv Bators’ girlfriend back in the day.
Ron & Scott, was the name of the tribute band, a sweet memorial to the dearly departed Asheton brothers. The band featured J. Mascis, Jon Moloney, Rob Thomas, and Noel Ford with special guests Dez Cadena (Black Flag) and Don Fleming (Gumball). Longtime sound engineer Noel Ford belted out a few classics. You might remember him from The Continental, or behind the soundboard of various other music venues, these days he’s touring with Dinosaur Jr. I bumped into my pals Ryan “Skeleton Boy” and Jonny Couch, when I brought up my admiration for Noel, Jonny remarked that he heard he was a fighter pilot in Vietnam. I worked with this guy for a year and never heard that one. Turned out to be a rumor, Noel told me that his number was high enough on the draft list to avoid it… Thank god!
Skeleton Boy and I at the Stooges tribute.
As the band played, an audience member yelled out, “Search & Destroy!” (This is a Stooges tribute, not Iggy Pop, get it straight dude.) Fittingly, Detroit’s own Mick Collins exploded onto the stage with the energy of a young Ian MacKay and belted out, “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” I was very impressed. You may remember the now 50 year old Mick from his cool as ice garage band, The Gories. Check them out in this 16mm video for “Nitroglycerine,” from 1990. Mick is currently rocking in the Dirtbombs. (below)
Soulful songstress Felice Rosser, who also starred in Jim Jarmusch’s ultra-hip 1980 flick Permanent Vacation, gave an outstanding performance singing, “Down In The Street.”
Rob Thomas, Felice Rosser, andJ. Mascis.
With his long white hair tucked underneath a colorful baseball cap, big beaded necklace, and oversize t-shirt, J. Mascis reminds me of a real life version of Tom Hanks in the movie Big. An adult who really lives in a kids world. But that is the great thing about playing music for a living, your adolescence never has to end. I never really followed Dinosaur Jr., but when Mascis started shredding on “I Wanna Be Your Dog,” I understood why grown men were shouting, “I love you J.!”
I had a grin the size of Ronald McDonald’s on my face during the show because the love in the air was thick and all consuming. It was called a tribute show, but the intimacy felt more like a bunch of good pals jamming in a garage. Everyone was dancing and singing along. Most of us never got to see the real thing live after all.
As Lester Bangs said in his 1973 Stereo Review article titled, The Stooges: The Apotheosis Of Every Parental Nightmare, “Shake hands, then, with Iggy and the Stooges, the latest and last word in shock-rock.” Lester then preceded to impart the crude display of Iggy performing fellatio to his microphone as Ron jabbed him hard in the back with his guitar. The scabs were real as well as the improv. Lester was right, I mean what came after? The obviously contrived stage performances of Marilyn Manson… laaaaamme.
Seaton “Raven” Hancock (Murphey’s Law), Rob Thomas, Noel Ford, and Jon Moloney.
I headed upstairs after the show, where young, thin, bikini clad go-go dancers were shaking their asses on platforms. As I watched the older rockers drooling over the giggling buttocks, I started sadly thinking about the important musicians we’ve lost. Ron in 2009 and then Scott in 2013, Bowie and Lemmy this year. Ryan and I were lamenting on the sad state of the music industry and the complete absence of genuine rock & roll. We keep looking to the past for that raw energy and heart. “At least we still have Iggy,” he glances at me. Grimacing, I answer, “I don’t even want to think about it.”
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