IGGY AT THE KHYBER,
Philadelphia
December 15, 2003

By GEOFF GINSBERG
of Real O Mind Records

When my friend Rennie called and said that he had just read online that Iggy Pop was playing The Khyber, our local rock and roll watering hole, I simply didn’t believe him.

It seemed too preposterous. The last time The Ig came through he sold out in advance at the Theater of Living Arts, an 800-seat venue with expensive ticket prices. Why would he then be playing a room that doesn’t even hold 200? Plus the supposed show was a week away – on a Monday night. Whether he was full of shit and yanking my chain or his sources were bad I wasn’t sure, but I knew he couldn’t be right.

Well, since you are reading this you have probably figured out that my friend was telling the truth and his sources were correct. When we hung up I immediately called Tom, my brother-in-law who just happens to tend bar at the Khyber. “Tom, what the fuck is this about Iggy at the Khyber?” He had no clue. “Are you kidding? No way!” “That’s what I heard – see what you can find out.” So he made a call and sure enough it was a go. It was going to be a Y100 (local “modern rock” station) Sonic Session and you had to win tickets or be invited by the club. Fuckin’ A! This would be the smallest venue I had ever seen the Mighty One at – smaller than the Hot Club where he literally provoked a riot in 1979.

So I called another friend (Paul) who is close with the guy who oversees the booking of the room and was no doubt in on the planning of the event. I was going to work every conceivable angle to get into this – now way was I gonna be shut out! By the time I called Paul we were both already on the list. It was a beautiful thing.

So it turned out that the gig was at 6.30 pm, and you had to be there by 6. The guest list was very tight – there was no negotiating. But me Paul and Rennie were all in without a problem.

Since it was a radio session I wasn’t expecting a full show. I figured he’d do around 10 songs, but I was gonna be happy with whatever I got. After all, it’s not every Monday night that you get a free Iggy show at a tiny bar – one that you like to go to no less – at happy hour? I mean, how often does that happen? Never, that’s how often. The Trolls would be the band, not The Stooges, but I really love The Trolls tunes on the new album and was looking forward to hearing some of that stuff live.

Right before Iggy came on the DJ from the radio station comes out to encourage the crowd to really give it up for Iggy. He actually seemed to know what was up with Iggy which was surprising. As he explained why we should give it up for Iggy I just said, “We know why.” I didn’t say it to be rude or show the guy up and he didn’t take it that way. It was just that I knew almost everybody in the room and they all knew they were lucky as fuck to be there. The DJ described it as a night we’d be telling people about way into the future – The Night We All Saw Iggy At The Khyber. That may have been a little overdramatic, but not much. This was BIG.

The Trolls came out and launched into “Perverts In The Sun.” I was standing about three people back from the stage and on the side. The room is only about 4 meters wide so there really is no side, there is only “in front.” But I was on the side of the front. We all know Iggy keeps it real all the time. In this case that means that there is a different level of intensity playing a radio session at 6.30 pm before an invited audience than playing later in the evening to a crowd that paid big bucks. He was making sure he sang well and not going completely apeshit. I’m in it for the tunes – the rest is icing – so I was perfectly happy to see and hear him deliver the goods with a lower pandemonium level. The band ripped through five of their new tunes in a row (“Perverts”, “Superbabe,” “Blood on My Cool,” “Here Comes the Summer,” and “Inferiority Complex”). I was getting exactly what I was hoping for. Because I was in front of the bass player I couldn’t really hear the guitar too well, but it didn’t matter – the rock was rolling. As the band tore into “Little Know It All,” Iggy joked “I actually got this thing on the radio!! Ha Ha!!!” And in fact they are playing it. As the show shifted to the oldies segment (“I Wanna Be Your Dog, “Wild One,” “Passenger,” and “Cold Metal”) Iggy got wilder. Now he was into some of his trademark dances and was having fun fucking around and getting loose. He was constantly sipping his water during the new stuff. Now he was out in the crowd giving people what they wanted. And then, just that fast – 10 songs and about 35 minutes later – it was over. It was Monday night at 7.10pm and we had just seen Iggy at the Khyber. It was a strange sensation walking down the street. It was so early, but my face hurt from smiling so much.

Y100 broadcast the show last Sunday night. I had never listened to the station before, but I figured it would be around 100 on my FM dial. (I know you must be overwhelmed by my superior intelligence figuring this out all by myself!) So I tuned in and 100.3 came in good, but James Brown was on. No way does Y100 play the Godfather so I kept looking. I didn’t find anything so I called up a friend whose kid listens to the station. He said he thought it was 100.3 and tuned it in as we were on the phone. “Oh, that can’t be it, they’re playing jazz. Let me go ask my kid,” he said. Turned out that it WAS the station and one Iggy Pop was spinning discs. This was unreal. Iggy DJing for the kids. He was playing a wide variety of stuff too. Everything from JB, to Bukka White, to Augustus Pablo, to fife and drum music from Othar Turner. When he played Pablo he explained to the kids who he (Pablo) was, what a Melodica is, and how on the album cover it was Pablo and his bong and so much smoke you couldn’t even see the guy. Iggy was also mixing in his own songs – the predictable “Lust For Life,” “Passenger,” “Wild One,” and the unpredictable – “I’m Sick of Moby,” “Kill City” and (get ready for this) “Gimme Some Skin!” During the latter I called a friend and said hell must be freezing over – fucking Gimme Some Skin’s on the radio!! Surreal.

Here’s what’s really amazing: they broadcast the live show unedited and uninterrupted. By unedited I mean that I heard more bad language (multiple fucks, cocksuckers, and even a fucker of mothers) than I had in my entire life combined on the radio. They just let 'er rip and rip they did. It was mixed well and I could hear Whitey tearing it up – especially on “Summer” I really love the jagged guitar on that one.

Anyway, as I implied earlier: you don’t get this every day. I figured he’d do about 10 songs. He did 10. I wanted to hear the new stuff – he played six in a row. ! An early Christmas gift from Iggy Pop. I gratefully accepted it.

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