Iggy shares the stage with Creed McTaggart, at the Billabong Pipe House.
Legendary surf photographer, Steve Sherman, called it the best rock and roll moment in surfing’s history – better than the time Eddie Vedder played a secret gig at the Waimea falls in 2006 and invited Kelly up for a cameo.
Iggy Pop may have only performed three songs in the backyard of the Billabong Pipe House, but the sound will echo through the surfing world for decades to come. There will be cynics who are quick to dismiss this as a pretentious collaboration between a surf brand and punk rock royalty, but it was undeniably a unique moment for surfing. The 70-year-old Godfather of Punk Rock, singing ‘The Passenger’ a Frisbee toss away from the Pipeline lineup.
Jimmy Hendrix played the Rainbow Bridge gig on Maui back in 1970, but he was in a horse pasture, 3000 feet up the slope of Mt. Haleakala and it had precious little to do with surfing. Iggy could have stage-dived and been caught by an interlocking of arms between Taj Burrow, Jack Freestone and Joel Parkinson.
To Billabong’s credit they looked within, before they reached out to a rock God to deliver the instant kudos. Creed McTaggart’s band ‘Wash’ played the undercard and tore up the stage. With his baritone vocals Creed borrowed a little from Joy Division’s Ian Curtis, while the band, featuring Ellis Ericson on guitar and Beau foster on drums, supplied full-throttle support. Playing the undercard for Iggy Pop is no small thing. Before the gig, Creed admitted to being as nervous as hell, but from where I stood, alongside the gyrating mops of blonde, Wash were tight and riveting. The crowd was already in a raucous mood when Iggy manifested on stage, appearing from nowhere and launching straight into The Passenger. Obviously the kind of guy who fully commits to a performance, irrespective of the venue or scale, Iggy left the crowd slack-jawed in disbelief. Apparently Iggy and Creed got on so well that Iggy was happy to sing alongside Creed and the crew for a section of his fleeting, but rapturous performance.
After Iggy beguiled the crowd, Byron-based outfit, The Skeggs, brought it home with their grinding riffs. They even invited a pumped up Ozzie Wright on stage to complete a night of perfect, punk-rock-surf fusion.
Major props should also go to Joel Parkinson who embraced the role of an elder statesman of the Billabong team and emceed the event. Parko gave the event the right sense of occasion and threw in a few impromptu gags for good measure. Well aware that he was part of a musically themed night, new WCT graduate, Griffin Colapinto, even busted out a slick rap solo when he was invited to the stage. In honour of his WCT graduation Griffin was handed a full set of Colapinto - inscribed Poker chips. It’s definitely going to be interesting to see how Billabong’s bet pays off on next year’s tour.
Paddling out at Rocky Point this morning, Beau Foster, the drummer for Wash, was still struggling to get his head around what had gone down. “We kind of new about it for six months but it wasn’t real till it happened… I’m still trying to fathom it … we didn’t just support Iggy Pop, we played with him.”