Bamboo Club Long Beach, CA
Players: Paul Gonzalez, vocals; Kevin Gonzalez, guitar; Jennifer Galdean, bass; Sean Johnson, drums
Material: It takes a brave band to take on the music of Iggy & the Stooges. Particularly the material on the first two albums—The Stooges and Funhouse. For the third record, Raw Power, Ron Asheton was unceremoniously switched to bass with James Williamson taking his place on guitar. But on those first two, Asheton’s groove was glorious, monstrous and kinda unprecedented. During the process of writing a book about the Stooges (Head On), it was pointed out to this writer that Ron Asheton was much like Chuck Berry in that he played his instrument in a whole new way. Therefore, it’s very easy to get it wrong. Countless bands, tribute and otherwise, have found that very thing over the years. You can play songs such as “Fun House” and “No Fun” more conventionally, but you lose so much. That said, SoCal tribute Icky & the Splooges (you’ve got to love that name) do a stellar job. Kudos to the people of the Happy Sundays festival for putting them on the bill, sandwiched by bands playing original material. Some Sunday afternoon Stooges played by Splooges makes for fun in the sun.
Musicianship: There’s literally nothing to knock. Singer Paul Gonzalez does a great job of replicating Iggy Pop’s punk-croon, while bassist Galdean and drummer Johnson forge a similarly solid, groovy rhythm section that we saw from Scott Asheton with Dave Alexander, Ronnie for a minute and, later, Mike Watt. The star is undoubtedly guitarist Kevin Gonzalez, who channels Ron beautifully. Both Ashetons might have left this mortal plane of existence, but their influence is eternal.
Performance: The Splooges is a punk tribute band, so we get much pummeling of instruments, energetic stage moves, and some facial contortions. But it’s a Stooges tribute, so it’s a little cooler than most. There’s a healthy dollop of cynicism and near-contempt thrown in. Paul Gonzalez has a darker expression on his face throughout than Iggy, who smiles a hell of a lot of stage. But that’s okay—he’s totally into it.
Summary: Again, both Ashetons are gone, as is Dave Alexander. Iggy, and also James Williamson, will regularly perform Stooges songs with their own bands, but we probably won’t get to see the Stooges again. The Splooges offer a decent alternative, for just a few bucks at dive bars. Whatever your opinion of tribute bands, these guys are doing the material justice.