SXSW Music: Iggy Pop

More “Funtime” from the king of punks

Michigan’s most famous Osterberg made his SXSW debut 20 years ago with a free show at the corner of Sixth Street & Brazos.

It was a raucous affair centered on sheer proto-punk intensity. His grotesque preening, shirtless stage dives, and smashed microphones etched deeper divots in the temporal lobe than the music itself. And why not? Nobody has ever done that so well for so long.

Iggy Pop (l) and Josh Homme (photo by Gary Miller)

Even though he steered completely clear of the Stooges, Wednesday night’s two-hour SXSW showcase at ACL Live at the Moody Theater was far and away the more compelling article. Once you’ve washed off the blood and peanut butter, the essence of Iggy Pop’s artistry is articulating complex, uncouth feelings in plain street language. As bandleader, Queens of the Stone Age headmaster Josh Homme pulled this Berlin dimension of Pop’s aesthetic into the spotlight again with full-throated arrangements of new songs from Post Pop Depression, a sensible portion of hits, and some unusual suspects from the catalog.

Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders kicked off the show with his best Hunt Sales impression on “Lust for Life.” Pop bounded onstage in a flail of appendages, wearing a suit jacket like the rest of the band, only with no shirt. David Bowie/Carlos Alomar co-write “Sister Midnight” followed, charting a course toward darker musical drama from the Bowie/Pop canon like “Tonight” and pre-encore closer “China Girl.” Despite the focus on vocal nuance, the 68-year-old, Medicare-eligible Pop still executed a textbook stage dive during “Funtime.”

The encore featured a blistering “Repo Man,” along with “Gardenia” and “Paraguay” from the new album. More a Howard Beale rant than song, the latter found him wishing aloud for a respite from information and humanity along with a compound staffed by loving servants. At song’s end, Pop smiled and said he didn’t intend it as a “personal statement.”

Closing with a rousing take on “Here Comes Success” from Lust for Life, he garnered a standing ovation and basked in it longer than someone who didn’t truly appreciate it would have.

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Iggy Pop, Stooges, The Stooges, Queens of the Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Josh Homme, David Bowie, SXSW Music 2016

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