Friday, September 18, 2009

412 Broadway, San Francisco, CA: The Matrix Iggy and The Stooges/The Tubes October 31, 1973


San Francisco's Matrix is best known as the club originally backed by Jefferson Airplane vocalist Marty Balin, and through the 1960s it was the local venue for all the Fillmore bands on their way up or their night off. Located at 3138 Fillmore Street, in the Marina District, it was an essential part of San Francisco rock history. There was also a little known second incarnation of The Matrix, however, at 412 Broadway.

The first Matrix closed in early 1971. Original Matrix owner/operator Peter Abram (along with John Barsotti and Dave Martin) re-opened the club at a new site in late Summer 1973 . Although the second Matrix was not really a success, there were a number of good shows there in the second half of 1973. The New York Dolls played there in September (Sep 4-6), and the then-unknown Bob Marley and The Wailers played some legendary gigs there in October (Oct 19-20, 29-30).

In retrospect, an equally legendary gig has to have been the Halloween 1973 show featuring Iggy and The Stooges and The Tubes. The ad (from the Fremont Argus of October 26, 1973) says "Halloween Party with Iggy and The Stooges, The Tubes and Sugardaddy." Iggy Stooge--as he was known in those days--was a notorious engine of destruction. His new album Raw Power featured original Stooges Scott Asheton on drums and Ron Asheton (on bass), along with new guitarist James Williamson (whose presence nudged Ron Asheton over to bass). Iggy's stage act typically featured frenzied madness and self-mutilation. If I remember correctly--I cannot find the direct reference--Joel Selvin's review (he was the SF Chronicle rock critic) could barely describe the lunacy of Iggy's show, including a young lady in the audience performing a certain act (which wasn't described). Iggy soon ended up in the Hospital.

The Tubes would become one of San Francisco's rock legends within 18 months, but at the time they were just hard rocking nuts from Phoenix. They had originally been called The Beans when they arrived in San Francisco, but they changed their name and morphed into a parody of a deranged hard rock band, complete with costumes, props and dancers. In 1973, still playing the local clubs, they were much sloppier players, with low-rent props and stunts, but that of course added to the "performance art" aspect of portraying a deranged and debauched hard rock band with pretensions towards English glam rock. The band that would perform on their debut album (and next several) in 1975 was already intact, including future Grateful Dead keyboardist Vince Welnick.

The new Matrix did not last much beyond this show--and indeed how could you top a week of the Wailers, Graham Central Station (on the 26th and 27th, above) and then Iggy and The Stooges with The Tubes? The venue became a soul club called The Soul Train (after the TV show), and then hosted a play called Bullshot Crummond (which I believe I saw) and finally from 1980 to 1990 it was The Stone. The Stone was linked to the Keystone Berkeley and Keystone Palo Alto, and was an important part of the Bay Area rock scene in the 1980s.

Currently the venue is the home of a club called Broadway Showgirls Cabaret (don't google it at work).

8 comments:

  1. An Italian correspondent says that Iggy and The Stooges did not actually play this show. Given Iggy's erratic history at the time, I find this entirely believable. In any case, Iggy did have one truly notorious show in San Francisco around this time, but perhaps this was not the one.

    Corry

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  2. Prior to opening as The Matrix, the 412 Broadway location was home to Mr D's - a jazz and supper club.

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  3. A little more about 412 Broadway.

    It transpires that between being Mr D's and The Matrix, 412 Broadway was called the Seven Divinities. Opening night at the Matrix was to be August 23, 1973 with the Mike Bloomfield Group and Copperhead following a band called Nimbus who were to open. For reasons not known to me, the opening night had to be rescheduled to August 24.

    Only as a result of recent research has the size of the venue become clear to me. The venue was very large (700 seats) and comprised a split-level room, two bars and a full Chinese restaurant. 700 seats is very much theater size rather than club size (the original Matrix could handle 120 people as an absolute limit). The Matrix held afterhours, hard liquor, cabaret, dance and restaurant licences. Notably the venue had backstage space for three bands worth of equipment, dressing rooms with showers, an 18 channel Altec-Lansing sound system and multiple back and front of stage lighting.

    In his review for the San Francisco Chronicle (dated August 28, 1973), Joel Selvin said that 750 folk had clicked through the turnstiles on the opening night. Nimbus by all accounts was a loud "hard rocking quintet" and clearly liked by Selvin. However, the Bloomfield group with Mark Naftalin was not so well received according to Mr Selvin – unspectacular but professionally competent, weak vocally. Copperhead, (comprising Gary Philippet, John Cipollina, Hutch Hutchinson and David Weber) were clearly the highlight and were joined on stage by Renee, the dancing lady. Renee was a blonde street performer who, notably, danced with the Grateful Dead.

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  4. It turns out that the "notorious" Iggy and The Stooges show was January 11-12, 1974 at Bimbo's 365 Club (1025 Columbus at Chestnut). The show had been rescheduled from the canceled Matrix show (thanks Bruno).

    Corry

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  5. A little more about the "notorious" Iggy and The Stooges show.

    By the time the band returned to the West Coast in January 1974 for this two shows (two sets a night and with The Tubes also on the bill) at Bimbo's 365 Club in San Francisco, their audience had dwindled, with just a few dozen fans in the seven-hundred-capacity club, all of them clustered around the stage. Joel Selvin was there to review the show for the Chronicle; he remembers that despite the tiny audience, the band was ragged but on the rampage, and that Iggy was as committed as ever. At one point he jumpeg out into the crowd, where-upon a fan pulled his bikini briefs down. The singer shouted a running commentary over the microphone: "Somebody's sucking my dick, somebody's sucking my dick!". Finally, bored of the attention, he screamed, "Give me my cock back, you bitch!" and continued the performance. Selvin wrote up the incident in his review, with heavy use of asterisks. The next day after the story runs Selvin get a phone call from a guy who says, "That was no girl that did Iggy, that was me and my cousin Frankie!".

    A cleaned up recording of this above performance (january 11 or 12) is included in the disc six of the 6CD limited edition boxed set titled: "The Stooges - Heavy Liquid" (Easy Action Records, 2005). The songs included is: "Wet my bed", "I got nothing", "Head on" and "Open up & bleed".

    Sorry for my english, I'm Italian!

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  6. Mr. D's, the mid-to-late 60s incarnation of 412 Broadway, mostly featured Vegas type acts (like Tony Bennett) or soul music (Marvin Gaye being the most interesting. However, I did discover that Three Dog Night played Mr D's, starting Friday November 7, probably through Thursday November 13. This was after a number of hit singles, like "One" and "Easy To Be Hard." In November, "Eli's Coming" was working its way up the charts. I guess 3DN decided to go the rock concert route rather than the Supper Club route, but its interesting to see that they at least toyed with it, and its another brick in the odd edifice of 412 Broadway.

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  7. Corry you mention The Tubes as originally The Beans. I saw The Beans at Pauley Ballroom November 13, 1971 opening for Blue Mountain and the Doobie Brothers at a benefit concert. Admission was $1.00 and when we walked in The Beans were finishing their set with "There's No Business Like Show Business" with the singer (Fee Waybill I assume) wearing knickers, a fluffy silk shirt and a hat made of tropical fruit just like Carmen Miranda from old Hollywood movies. The Doobie Brothers (the original 4-piece) were fantastic.

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    Replies
    1. I lived in the San Fran area way back pre 90 and remember The Stone. I just went for a visit and was surprised how many San Franciscans today have never heard of it.

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