Mike McCready, Duff McKagan, Barrett Martin and Mark Arm form the local supergroup Raw Power to raise money for KEXP.
One of the greatest bands to ever play in Seattle — and on top of the Pike Place Market, at that — only lasted for half an hour.
In that sense, Raw Power — a band assembled in tribute to Iggy Pop and the Stooges — was almost cruel. Just once would Mike McCready, of Pearl Jam; Duff McKagan, of Guns N’ Roses; Barrett Martin, of The Screaming Trees; and Mark Arm, of Mudhoney; perform before a grateful audience, who packed Pike Place Sunday and spilled onto First Avenue.
It was a crucial fundraiser for radio station KEXP, which is within $3 million of reaching the $15 million it needs to complete a new home at Seattle Center.
McCready and his wife, Ashley O’Connor McCready, are (with Sellen President Scott Redman) co-chairs of the New Home board. McCready wanted to play a benefit show somewhere special. On the water, even.
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“I couldn’t figure out how to get a barge,” he joked. The Market seemed the perfect spot, and his friends generous and happy bandmates.
Plus, he had never played with Arm.
“Very Iggy,” McCready said, recalling Arm’s onstage antics with Green River. “He wore dresses, he would pour stuff over his head. Always that irreverent, sarcastic guy.
“And Duff and Barrett are locked, like a freight train of rhythm.”
Arm is used to high places. In 2013, Mudhoney played atop the Space Needle to celebrate Sub Pop Records’ Silver Jubilee. The event was also sponsored by KEXP.
“We have a long history of celebrating music on top of rooftops,” cracked station director Tom Mara. “This has truly been a city and county citizenry effort. I’m humbled and thrilled.”
Pike Place PDA head Ben Franz-Knight opened the rooftop for the half-hour show (and three days of prep) with the support of foundation head Lillian Sherman, who gets KEXP’s mission. She is trying to raise $9 million to expand the Market. (“We know that capital campaigns are hard,” she said.)
Matt’s in the Market owner Dan Bugge donated his restaurant (usually closed on Sundays) and a preshow meal for 70 VIPS who donated $5,000 each to get in the door. It included drinks and dessert (and the staff to serve it all), a killer view of the concert and an after-party that featured Stooges-themed drinks like “Little Doll,” “Shake Appeal” and “I Wanna Be Your Dog.” Generous man.
Most of the strings were pulled together by Ashley McCready. “I am just naive enough to think that it is not that much work,” she said, “and wise enough to have the greatest support team around me to get the job done.”
During dinner, the musicians and KEXP deejays John Richards, Cheryl Waters and Kevin Cole played their own version of musical chairs, moving around the room to visit with each table. (DJ Troy Nelson was in charge of the music).
Diners included Real Networks founder Rob Glaser and author Maggie Savarino; Pearl Jam manager Kelly Curtis and his wife, Carolyn; architect Tom Kundig; STG head Adam Zacks and his wife, Lynn Resnick; New Home Committee co-chair Paula Boggs; Redman and his wife, Shawn; Toby Bright and Nancy Lee Ward, who came up from San Francisco, where they are spending a two-year stretch.
“I can’t miss this,” Bright said.
King County Executive Dow Constantine recalled driving his 1968 Ford Galaxie 500 to Portland in 1988 for a Stooges show — with Arm driving south in tandem.
Pete and Brandy Nordstrom hung out by the window, looking over at the stage and the crowd that spilled out onto First Avenue.
“[The Stooges] were the band that was punk before punk,” Pete said. “They did something that didn’t exist.”
McKagan grew up in Seattle, so I asked what it meant for him to be playing in front of the iconic Pike Place Market sign.
“It means that I am now extra specially cool,” he cracked, then confessed to being nervous. It wasn’t the legacy of the venue that was rattling him, he said, but the songs.
“The Stooges are the root of everything punk rock,” he said. “They personify reckless abandon.”
Martin called the Stooges “One of the greatest rock bands of all time, or any genre.”
“Their records are a little lo-fi,” he said, “but amazing.”
The show started promptly at 7. Arm was the consummate frontman, crouching down and bending over at the edge of the roof to deliver fiery growls that could probably be heard in Kent. Like Iggy, he’s a small man able to create window-rattling sound. (But he kept his shirt on).
Arm is also a smartass. In introducing his band members, he referred not to the groups with which they made their names, but where they started.
So McKagan wasn’t from Guns N’ Roses, but Fartz and the Fastbacks; and McCready not for Pearl Jam but Warrior.
They tore through a set of Stooges covers with palpable relish: “Little Doll,” “TV Eye,” “I Got a Right,” “I Need Somebody,” “Down on the Street,” “Search and Destroy” and “Loose.”
Over at Matt’s in the Market, a server behind the bar danced like a maniac, and some of the city’s biggest movers reverted to the head-bobbing punk kids they once were.
Down at the end of the windows sat Alida and Chis Latham, who was the general manager of KEXP’s former self, KCMU.
“I love it,” Chris Latham said. “How could you not?”