'A 50-storey-tall Iggy Pop!' Alison Mosshart's fantasy festival

The Kills star, who releases a spoken word album this month, imagines a New York festival with speakers on every corner – and a resurrected Jimi Hendrix


I would pick New York City, which works best logistically for what I would like it to look and feel like. I would set up the main stage in Chelsea or Bowery, a huge area blocked off between buildings and people filling the streets. The idea would be to put PA speakers on every corner of Manhattan Island. On every block, the show would be projected on to the side of buildings, so everyone could see it from their windows or rooftops. Everyone could come: in this fantasy, no one would have to buy tickets and there would be no VIP guest list. There would be no tents, either; everyone could stay in hotels.

The headline act

Let’s have Jimi Hendrix headlining, because it is Jimi Hendrix. I would want the whole thing to be a celebration of incredible voices and guitars. There are no specifics that I would want from his performance. I would just want him to do his thing.

Iggy Pop live at Sydney Opera House, 2019.

If it had to be someone who is still alive, Iggy Pop would be great. If you are putting all these shows on to the sides of buildings, who wouldn’t want to see a 50-storey-tall Iggy Pop? I am thinking of it all quite visually – really great frontpeople and guitars echoing down every street. That is my idea of paradise.

Five more acts

Captain Beefheart, because I never got to see him and that breaks my heart. I have watched so many mind-blowing videos of Sister Rosetta Tharpe playing guitar, so she would be incredible to have. I would love John Lee Hooker to play. Also, for shits and giggles, let’s have the Band. To hear that kind of music that loud right now would be pretty damn fantastic.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe at Antibes jazz festival in 1960.

Fugazi would need to get back together to do this, because they were my favourite live band when I was a kid and teenager. When I first got my driving licence, I used to follow them around in my car when they were on tour – they are the only band I have ever done that with. I would fly anywhere to see them play another show. We need a concert like this right now, don’t you think? Maybe we could get in touch with a great hologram artist …

Waiting Room by Fugazi, 2006.

The non-musical activity

I don’t think you really need other activities. You can’t make the festival too long, because New York traffic will need to pick up again at some point. Five to six acts playing 45 minutes each would probably be enough before things have to go back to normal. My fantasy might be full of ghosts, but it still has a dose of realism.

How will people unwind? I don’t think they will, to be honest. I think they will get so excited and inspired. The world has been winding down for so long – let’s not relax for this one night. Everyone would be talking about it: “I went to the greatest festival of all time; Jimi Hendrix has never played better.” There is so much merchandise you could have – mugs, snow globes, little Statues of Liberty holding guitars.

The food

If you are using the whole city as the environment, you could make good use of all of New York’s bars and restaurants. Covid-19 is making me dream of being outdoors. We would have that early spring vibe where the city is showing its best, and serving everybody outside. I really miss my favourite old-school restaurants, Raoul’s and Fanelli’s, so they could cater. I really miss sushi, too – not that that is exclusive to this festival fantasy, but I am sure we could have some there, too.

  • Alison Mosshart’s spoken word album, Sound Wheel, accompanying her book Car Ma, is released on 7 August on Third Man Records. A 7-inch single, Rise/It Ain’t Water, is released on 31 July on Domino


Interview by Jenessa Williams

The GuardianTramp

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