At the time, few if any knew that the Sept. 29, 2013 performance in San Jose by Iggy and the Stooges would be their final show.
A centerpiece of the inaugural C2SV Festival, the concert was a late addition to the band’s tour. And it was a landmark event on many levels.
The concert marked the first time the band had played in San Jose, and the performance featured James Williamson, by then established in the Bay Area as a technology executive. Moreover, as would only become clear nearly three years later, the show would be the final word from one of the 20th Century’s most important and influential acts.
It was last-minute, says John Kastner, who booked Iggy and the Stooges for the performance at St. James Park. He believes that the band’s willingness to add a show—even though their tour had just ended—may have had to do with guitarist James Williamson being a Saratoga resident.
“You could tell that they had been on the road for a long time, as they were very tight,” says Kastner. He notes that a lot of people made the trip from San Francisco and beyond just to see the band. “They couldn’t believe they were seeing Iggy and the Stooges in the park in San Jose.”
The Stooges roared out of Detroit in 1967. Fronted by the irrepressible Iggy Stooge (Jim Osterberg to his family), the band was extreme in its primal simplicity. The term punk rock had yet to enter the popular lexicon, and there were few who understood how to describe the band’s sonic assault.
The Stooges’ self-titled debut album was defiantly original. On tracks like “I Wanna Be Your Dog” and “No Fun,” Iggy snarled viciously while the players (brothers Ron and Scott Asheton on guitar and drums plus bassist Dave Alexander) added to the mayhem. While it was ignored or dismissed by the wider public, The Stooges set a template for the future.
Inevitably, the group splintered. By the mid 1970s, Iggy Pop was pursuing a career on his own, alternately as a solo artist and with a new lineup. Reflecting his status as an elder statesman of punk, Iggy would be inducted to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and become recipient of a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
It wasn’t until 2003 that a Stooges reunion took place, with former Minutemen bassist Mike Watt rounding out the group (Alexander passed away in 1975). Steve MacKay, saxophonist on the Stooges’ 1969 Fun House LP, joined as well. The band toured widely and to great acclaim.
When guitarist Ron Asheton died in 2009, Williamson came back on board, and the group would once again be billed as Iggy and the Stooges. Concerts featured a kind of live career overview, underscoring the group’s historical importance. A well-received 2013 tour wrapped up with a prominent spot at that year’s Riot Fest in Denver and Toronto.
Recalling the San Jose concert, Kastner remembered sensing some onstage friction between Iggy and Williamson. Adding to the tension was the fact that Iggy sustained an injury when a mic stand hit him on the bridge of his nose. “He was bleeding,” Kastner says.
Opening with “Raw Power,” the band delivered a whip-smart 13-song performance. Unexpectedly and without the band’s permission, Art Live Gallery models painted by Trina Merry took to the stage during “Burn.” Kastner emphasizes that Iggy “was very good-natured, and just rolled with it.”
The Stooges went quiet after the San Jose gig. After a few years of band inactivity—a time during which Scott Asheton and Steve MacKay both died, and Iggy released a solo album—the inevitable official announcement came: The Stooges were no more. An era had ended.
Ahead of the San Jose show, Metro publisher and C2SV organizer Dan Pulcrano had commissioned a special concert poster to promote the event. Shepard Fairey delivered an intricate monochromatic design that deftly combined grace and power in a single image.
One of those posters—framed and hanging on Kastner’s wall—serves as a visual memento to accompany memories of an historic concert in San Jose’s St. James Park.
“We were lucky to be there to witness it,” said Kastner.