The Rockhouse Goes Fun House: St. John’s Does The Stooges

stooges1George Street is quite accustomed to cover bands. In fact, walking down George Street on any given night is like a monstrous mash-up of worn-out covers and overblown subwoofers booming from the uninsulated corners of the dance clubs.

Music spills out the doors and windows of every bar stacked on top of each other – and like the drunken and debaucherous patrons, the music clashes, disorients and adds to the chaos of the stumbling, slack-jawed masses.

But, tonight might bring a breath of fresh air, (as fresh of a breath as you can get on George St.) as The Rockhouse readies itself to house the rumble of a full-fledge homage to the legendary pelvic proto-punk war cries of Michigan wild-men, The Stooges.

Almost fifty years ago, The Stooges sought to represent the death of the sixties, with guttural, anthemic garage rock which basked in raw simplicity. With a hostile snarl and a youthful libido, The Stooges explored timeless and ever-relatable topics such as boredom, and cunnilingus.

By the time of their first record in 1969, the peace and love movement had began to go sour. The Stooges represented a destructive dissatisfaction – a backlash tainted in blood, broken glass, and a whole lot of guitar feedback.

But, like all things that break new ground, The Stooges were largely rejected in their heyday, being met with violent, unimpressed audiences, lousy reviews and pitiful album sales.

The primitiveness of The Stooges didn’t go over well in an era of stadium showboating, where prog rock ruled all.

When you’re ahead of your time, you’ve got to wait for the rest of the world to catch up – ten years later when the punk scene flourished, everybody wanted to be The Stooges. The Stooges were punks before punk, but with hockey haircuts.

The three albums that once got them dropped from record labels became legendary, and of course Iggy Pop went on to enjoy the longevity of a solo career.

The widespread relevancy of The Stooges music can’t be denied when their songs garner an evening of tribute tonight in St. John’s, Newfoundland. To those who worry about the material being done justice – be at ease. The Stooges are in quite capable hands tonight with a perfect cast of players who will certainly not disappoint.

Victor Lewis (Solo, Kujo, Casual Male) steps into the boots of Ron Asheton, and James Williamson (Raw Power era). Lewis will be commanding the guitar duties of Ronnie’s straightforward, fuzz-laden grooves, and Williamson’s ripping and blown-out licks.

The rhythm section is nothing to shake a stick at either; with Ashton Whitt (The Darts) carrying the thunderous bass lines, and Devon Milley (Monsterbator) holding down the metronomic Detroit drum clatter.

Of course there needs to be an Iggy, and who better than Monsterbator front man Andrew Waterman?

Andrew Waterman Performing with Monsterbator, Photo by Mike Heffernan 2014

Andrew Waterman Performing with Monsterbator, Photo by Mike Heffernan 2014

Besides the similarities of unpredictable stage antics, and the habit of losing their shirts, Waterman’s distinctive snarl already plays a perfect fit in my head, whether it’s doing justice to No Fun, or losing control to Down On The Street.

“Andrew Waterman playing Iggy pop is genius,” says Ashton Whitt (Bass), “For those who have seen a Monsterbator show, you know what I’m talking about.”

Experience The Stooges is the sole act at The Rockhouse tonight, playing multiple sets to make a full evening of Stooges ground coverage.

“We tried to get another cover act to open the evening but it never panned out,” says Whitt.  “So we decided to play a couple sets and stay focused on pretty much The Stooges material; Self-Titled, Fun House and Raw Power plus a few random drifters that we’re throwing in — I won’t give those away.”

We asked Whitt what show-goers could expect from tonight’s tribute, to which he replied:  “A riot.”

“We’re not trying to “perfect” The Stooges work because that’s damn-well impossible. They are one of the best jam bands ever, and we’re just trying to have some fun with it and play some of our favourite fuckin jams,” says Whitt.

“I still don’t know what to completely expect myself, except that it’s gonna get crazy.”

Will Andrew Waterman slather himself in peanut butter? Will the songs of The Stooges drown out the fifth encore of Wagon Wheel being played for a pub full of bumbling drunkards across the street?

God, I hope so.

Experience The Stooges takes place tonight (February 28th, 2015) at The Rockhouse in St. John’s, NL at 10PM.
Check out the facebook event here.

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