Iggy Pop and Angst in Baltimore
STP, Bob Dylan, The Stooges, Wilco, Foo Fighters, Nine Inch Nails and many other great bands rocked out a horse racing stadium mid August for the Virgin Mobile Festival thrown by the crazy, record breaking, billionaire Richard Branson.
Following hours stuck in Washington D.C. traffic I managed to catch the classic Chuck Berry wing out some blues with his signature twang tone. “It was a teenage wedding and the old folk’s wished them well,” sang Berry.
After the old time blues the Foo Fighters rocked the stage for two hours. They played mostly their radio hits. “Monkey Wrench”, “Everlong”, “Weight Keeping me Down”, “Getting the Best of You”, and “Times like These” to name a few. They covered “Young Man’s Blues” by The Who with ample time for dueling guitar solos in-between. I thought guitarist Pat Smear was a crucial part of the Foo Fighters but he disappeared from the stage for more then half of the set and was hardly audible. At one point some guy threw his keys on stage, Dave Grohl picked them up and made fun of the guy for throwing his keys and stated he had no intention on giving them back, he took them as a his Christmas bonus. At one point Grohl was holding a Frisbee about to throw it in the crowd, I thought some kid would catch that Frisbee and cherish it as some rock relic even though it was only a Frisbee. Grohl spit on the Frisbee and threw it in the crowd.
The crowd for the weekend was overwhelmingly white 16 to 18-year-old kids. The racial divide between inside the festival and the streets outside was amazing. Inside were about 98 to 99 percent whites and just outside the gates were 98 to 99 percent blacks.
While waiting for the traffic to clear me and my Amiga walked around. There were roughly two liquor stores and a fried chicken place on every block with the occasional bail bondsmen. A cop stopped us as we walked and asked “What the hell are you doing here? Do you know where you are? Have you heard of the HBO show called the wire? That was about this place. Get in your car, lock the doors, go home,” he said. I told him I could tell it was a rough spot by the liquor stores and bondmen. “You don’t understand, right down this street one block away there was four homicides last night alone,” he explained. I took his advice and turned around, as the traffic had slowed either way.
“I am a fJck up and I will be forevaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!” screamed Iggy Pop. At the age of 61 Iggy still has the childish glee of a five-year-old. He poured about 5 bottles of water on himself throughout the show. He hit every note on point and in several octaves. He could scream for long sustained periods. Several times he jumped through his own security into the crowds of adoring fans most scrambling for their iphones. He demanded the crowd be shaked from the chains of apathy. “My idea of fun, is killing everyone,” he sang and screamed continuously until you knew it and felt it. Iggy Pop and the Stooges are the epitome of Raw Power still. As Iggy chanted the lyrics to “1970” a.k.a. “I Feel Alright” the bassist humped his amp with his instrument between his crotch and amp.
I forfeited the Black Keys for the Iggy Pop show and only caught the first three songs of Stone Temple Pilots to catch Bob Dylan.
STP played their hits mostly and I am glad to see them reunited although Scott Weilends vocals didn’t sound at his full potential. Bob Dylan sounded like Tom Waits but with more grunts and almost completely incomprehensible.
Nine Inch Nails filled the crowd with sexy angst. They went from super heavy songs like “Wish” and “I gave up” to soft acoustic songs that you could sleep to. It’s odd how they have such a wide range and the fans love them for both, although I did hear a fan scream “Your putting us to fJckin sleep!” during an acoustic song.
During the NIN set two guys beside me were about to brawl. I got between them and said, “Hey what the hell are you doing? We are at a nice show enjoying ourselves and you are trying to fight, calm the fJck down!” After I finished I realized the flaw in my argument, sure we were at a nice show but it was NIN, what did I expect people to do to this kind of music? About five minutes later the fight broke out as one guy tackled the other and threw him back 15 feet busting his head wide open. About 15 minutes after that the girl in front of me was flashing her boobs for Trent Reznor. “We want you to go catch Kanye West’s set, there is no one out there and we feel bad for him,” said Reznor.
As I left the festival Kanye West was apologizing for his late appearance at Bonnaroo and talking polotics. He was upset that people had to choose between him and NIN. He was saddened that all the people outside in the surrounding ghetto couldn’t afford a ticket but it was all right because they could hear him from the parking lot.
Security at the festival was crucial as many crowd-surfers would have busted their poor heads open without their help; but the security at this festival takes rank as being the most uptight and occasionally brutal security that I have ever had to deal with. Aside from that, it was a great festival and great line-up!
Photos and review by Kent Kessinger
More photos at www.kentkessinger.com