Aplscruf's Music Blog

X Keeps on Giving 40 Years Later

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It was a cold and damp December evening. My son Jacob and I crossed First Avenue and headed toward the neon-framed marquee of The Showbox to see X. Seattle’s streets shimmered with thawing snow, two days after a White Christmas–a rarity here. X is a rarity too, still intact after 40 years. Forty years of raw, chest-thumping, eardrum-splitting punk rock.

Their 40th Anniversary tour is a gift that just keeps on giving. Seattle was a stop in the final leg of their year-long tour, which actually began in 2016. The Grande Finale of 2017 took place December 30th in San Francisco’s Regency Ballroom.

X have been around so long, they’re already stuffed in a museum. The GRAMMY museum in L.A. just opened an exhibit in October: X: 40 Years of Punk in Los Angeles, which features X artifacts and memorabilia. There is also a book and a movie out about X and the L.A. punk scene. You’d think they were long gone, with all the honors bestowed upon them.

Exene Cervenka, vocalist for X, exclaims on their website: “For a long time interviewers and X people we’ve met have asked us, ‘Did you think when X started you’d still be playing together now?’ And our answer is surprisingly – No! Of course not!” Like the first fiery X on their Los Angeles album cover, they rose from the ashes, catching fire again and again as new generations of fans fueled them. Exene also added: “A couple weeks ago we were in the van coming home from a show, and started talking about this very exciting 40th Anniversary year coming up. Then Billy said: ‘That’s nice. What are we doing for our 50th anniversary?'”

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Back at The Showbox, makeshift airport metal detectors guarded the entrance. My purse was searched by security as I walked through the rectangular detectors. I hate the New World sometimes, but I’ll tolerate the terrorist paranoia in order to see a live show. The cycle of life and history keeps spinning ’round as new becomes old and old becomes new again. 

Our photo passes only allowed access on the sides of stage; but as usual in Seattle, no one showed up until halfway through the opener. We had prime standing positions in front of the stage, if we could tolerate standing for the next 3.5 hours. Seemed like the punk thing to do. Since X would be doing all the work, we could honor their efforts by standing and getting sweaty right along with them. I knew once we committed, we’d stay put the rest of the night.

X brought in some young blood to open the show this night. LPIII & The Tragedy were supporting X in the Northwest leg of the tour and promoting their debut album, Southland Hum. LPIII and the Tragedy set The Showbox ablaze with their punk swagger, borrowing riffs from roots rock to cow-punk, but they still sounded genuine and fresh.

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Louis Perez III, is an L.A. prince (his father is Louie Perez Jr. of Los Lobos fame), but has branched out and developed his own style of music. A necessary rite of passage, if one is to follow in his father’s musical footsteps. With intense, primal vocals and scorching lead guitar, he knew how to work the stage and energize the crowd.

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Perez’s cousin, Ruby Rosas (vox/bass), peered over the audience with dagger eyes, eager to rip our hearts out and eat them while thumping out bass riffs in snakeskin stilettos. And we were okay with that. She had full control of her instrument and matched Perez in talent and intensity.

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The rest of the band enveloped the two and created a tight, raucous sound, which included Mike Berault on keys, Carlos Guzman on rhythm guitar, and Eric Fuller on drums.

Check out their latest video of the title track here: https://www.lp3andthetragedy.com/video

After a huge applause erupted for LPIII & The Tragedy, the mob was fired up and ready for X.

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John Doe and Exene Cervenka of X

X’s punk music felt just as fresh and relevant as it must have 4 decades ago. No need for them to record “new” music. They have enough timeless hits to fill the night and keep the audience fully engaged. Generations of fans attended the Showbox this night, proving how timeless their music truly is. It speaks to the fans. Its roots run deep, touching many genres, from rockabilly to country, rock and pop. The mosh pit did change considerably, as the majority of the crowd was a bit older. This evening, the pit consisted of one skinny punk kid, flailing his arms and legs, who immediately got clothes-lined by a man twice his age and weight. End of mosh pit.

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Their onstage chemistry is that of a band who still “genuinely like each other”, said bassist/vocalist John Doe, in a recent interview in The Seattle Times. Their playful, knowing looks, inside jokes, and teasing remarks onstage added to the fun atmosphere. At one point, guitarist Billy Zoom kept telling drummer DJ Bonebrake: “Hold on!” right when DJ counted out a beat. After the third time, DJ learned his lesson and they blasted into another song, right on cue. For this show, X added guest musician Craig Packham to fill in on rhythm guitar so Billy could play his sax. Craig also played drums while DJ hit the vibraphone for a few songs.

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Billy Zoom, although seated again for most of the show, still had that Eternal Smile and mugged for the cameras in the front row. He’s still sweet and baby-faced, still playing like a madman, but cool as a cucumber on the outside, barely moving a muscle except those in his flying fingers.

Jacob, my son and photographer co-pilot, witnessed Doe’s solo show at The Triple Door a couple years ago. The lively show, more country than rock, included Jesse Dayton’s terrific backing band. Doe was a little more subdued, letting Dayton do the heavy lifting. Jacob hadn’t seen X as a full band before, and was pleasantly surprised by Doe’s dynamic bass grooves, his magnetism, synergy, and chemistry with X. Not to mention his contrapposto punk stance. The man’s still got it.

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I looked over and Jacob during “Hungry Wolf”. His eyes were closed and his head was bobbing, immersed in DJ’s rolling thunder. The wooden floor bounced to the beat below our stomping feet. The rest of the band disappeared behind the stage as our chests reverberated in marked time. After DJ’s powerful solo, Billy took his seat and conjured the devil out of his guitar, making other-worldly noises and screeches, howling and growling. Exene and John joined the pack to finish up the explosive song.

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DJ Bonebrake

“Mind if we sing a couple end-of-the-world songs?” said John. Exene shuffled over to him and held up 5 fingers close to his face with a coy smile.  John continued: “Uh, make that five end-of-the-world songs…”

If the world ended tonight, we’d all go out spent and satisfied. How punk is that? And isn’t that what music should do for us? Fuck the end of the world.

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Exene, seemingly in her own world, spun and swayed, with hands nesting in her hair. Sometimes she looked like a marionette with arms and legs attached to invisible strings, resurrecting her black-and-white ghost persona in “Because I Do.” When it was her turn in front of the mic, though, she became reanimated, punching out song after song, harmonizing with Doe, screaming, shrieking, and belting out lyrics.

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A woman about my age made her way to the front. Her smiling, glowing face showed how much she loved this band. She knew all the words, sang along, and reached out to each of them as she caught their eyes. During “Come Back To Me”, Exene extended a hand to the woman and held it while she finished her verse. It was so sweet and genuine. A tender moment at a punk rock show. Are they losing their punk angst? No, but they know how to give and receive love. It’s why they’re still around playing for us today.

I gave the fan my business card and told her to write to me, and I’d send her a picture. Priceless.

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Billy played sax during the song, and John later quipped, “That was our jazz interlude.”

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Billy Zoom on sax, guitar pick resting on forehead

The night grew long and hot. We held our positions, not daring to leave and expect to get back to the front lines. Sweating through my two shirts, I decided to remove my denim shirt, hand painted with copper arrows that my artist friend made me as a surprise Christmas present–a Wild Gift, just for tonight’s show. It was a beautiful bootleg, honoring Doe’s trademark look, crafted out of love and friendship. I held it up and caught Mr. Doe’s eye. He gave me a big smile and a little chuckle. Ahh, heaven right here in the heat and the fiery glow.

To be fair, though, Doe’s look and other cool hand-made designer clothing can be purchased through Featherweight Studio.

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John Doe, all punk and arrows

A young woman had the honor of helping Billy play his guitar at the end of the show. I caught a picture in the hazy glow of the lights, as if Billy were an angel sent down to greet her. She later exclaimed on my Facebook page where I’d posted the pic: “Happiest moment in all my life!” What more could you ask for as a fan or as a musician?

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Billy Zoom gets a helping hand from an adoring fan

Exene also expounded on the tour in a 2016 Seattle Times article: “We’ve got three generations of people now coming to see us. I’m grateful that we’re still doing it and I’m grateful people still want to see us. You don’t retire…you play until you die.”

I cannot go without saying how I was reminded of another 40th anniversary tour that just wrapped up a few months ago. The bittersweet and shocking ending of Tom Petty’s  life happened just days after his tour ended. As with X, we’ll still have the music, long after they’re gone. Nothing beats the shared energy of a live show, though.

It was a punk rock show after all, so I believe I’m allowed to toss around an “F” bomb a couple of times. Maybe I’m being selfish, even after acknowledging that life and death form a never-ending circle, but here goes:

X, don’t fucking die. Shoot for the 50th Anniversary.

Peace, Love, and Punk Rock to All…

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For more information, check out their websites and purchase their merch:

http://www.xtheband.com/

John Doe

https://www.lp3andthetragedy.com/

For fantastic pics of the show, check out Peter Dervin Photography and his review on No Depression: http://nodepression.com/live-review/x-celebrates-their-40th-anniversary-showbox-seattle

 

 

 

 

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December 31, 2017 Posted by | 2017, The Showbox, X | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Past Shows, Future Shows, and Cool Projects

I can’t keep up with the shows we’ve attended, nor do I have time to write full reviews, so I thought I’d do a brief summary of some artists to keep in your radar.

Vaudeville Etiquette, psych-Americana sweethearts from Seattle, threw a helluva CD release party on Saturday, May 7, at Neumos. What an absolute party it was. Their sophomore album, entitled Aura Vista Motel represents the polished versions of songs they’ve been playing live for months now.

Although I’ve seen them play several times, the energy they brought to the party was palpable. Their five-person band, co-fronted by Bradley Laina and Tayler Lynn, expanded to eight and exploded with sonic and visual delights.

Check tour dates for tons of shows coming up in June and July here: http://www.vaudevilleetiquette.com/#!tour/ck0q

 

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Last weekend, we saw Ted Leo (sans The Pharmacists) in a solo show at Barboza, the intimate space in the basement of Neumos.

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Aimee Mann and Ted Leo of The Both

It was fantastic to see Ted Leo in such a small venue. We saw the full band at The Showbox back in 2007,  but due to events beyond our control, we had to leave early. It was super loud, too, almost unbearably so. At this solo event, he politely asked the audience if he should turn down the amp on his electric guitar. It was a Greatest Hits Night, but he also showcased a recent project called The Both with Aimee Mann, who was also a surprise guest on a few songs. Their harmonies were gorgeous. In between songs, and even during some, Ted kept us in stitches with little anecdotes and forgotten lines. Afterward, he graciously allowed us to have a few words, even going as far as telling us to tell our college-aged son to do well on his finals and stay in school. Sweet!

Coming up this Thursday, June 9, is a show at Hotel Albatross in Ballard with Portland’s Fernando, Austin Lucas and Adam Faucett . Looking forward to their unique styles, blending alt-country, folk, and Americana.

Next week: Newlyweds Ian McFeron and Alisa Milner will play an outdoor set of their lovely Americana music on the grounds of McMenamins/Anderson School in Bothell on Thursday, June 16.

 

On June 17 we will attend Massy Ferguson’s release party! Super excited for this show. They always bring the fun. See my previous links or their website for more info. Also, their June UK tour dates are up!

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Tom Petty and his band Mudcrutch play The Fillmore in San Francisco Sunday and Monday, celebrating their second album in 8 years, properly titled, 2. No Seattle dates, unfortunately.

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We saw Mudcrutch in 2008 at The Troubadour in Hollywood: https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2010/01/27/tom-petty-with-mudcrutch-at-the-troubadour-05-02-2008/

More fun at the end of June when John Doe, Jesse Dayton, DJ Bonebrake, and Cindy Wasserman “Brang It” to The Tractor Tavern June 29! This one should sell out.

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Thee John Doe. Photo by Jim Herrington

See my review of John Doe’s show at The Triple Door here: https://aplscruf.wordpress.com/2015/06/26/john-doe-reigns-at-the-triple-door-seattle-june-19-2015/

In July, a few shows to start off the Independence Day weekend with a Bang, including The Paperboys , the MexiCanadiAmericanaIrishFolk band, who will play The Tractor July 1.

The Swearengens, another Ballard Americana staple, will also play The Sunset July 1. If you time it right, you might see both the same night. Just hoof it up or down Ballard Ave.

On Sunday, July 3, those La Lucha-wearing surf rockers, Los Straitjackets will sell out The Tractor.

Down South and other far away lands, more great news:

Austin darling Jeremy Nail’s tour hits Nashville and NYC, among other cities. Fantastic Press keeps rolling in for this talented singer-songwriter.

Jeff Finlin’s new book of prose, The Seduction of Radha is now available. Check his website often for more good news, including new albums, books, and his new organization, Recover.Yoga.

Willie Sugarcapps keeps moving up the Americana charts and is getting great press for their new release, Paradise Right Here.

Dean Owens recently recorded a haunting song called “Cotton Snow”,  about The Battle of Franklin. See Paul Kerr’s Blabber ‘n’ Smoke review which includes more information about Dean’s previous and current projects here: https://paulkerr.wordpress.com/2016/04/04/dean-owens-with-dave-coleman-cotton-snow-single-release-drumfire-records/

He also paid a heartfelt tribute to Muhammad Ali in the audio below. Watch his site or follow him on FB for upcoming projects.

https://soundcloud.com/search?q=scary%20biscuit/louisville-lip-rf

 

Whew! I’m exhausted just thinking about it all. More fun is on the way, so it’s time to re-charge.

June 8, 2016 Posted by | 2016, Americana, Rock, Roots Rock, Seattle Rock | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

X Show Review on No Depression!

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Here’s my review of X at The Showbox. See more pics in my previous post. What a fantastic night!

http://nodepression.com/live-review/all-i-want-x-mas

December 26, 2015 Posted by | Concert Season 2015, Mike Watt, Music, The Showbox, Uncategorized, X | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Announcement from X: “Our Very Own XMas Miracle! Billy Zoom to Play XMas Shows!”

Source: Our Very Own XMas Miracle! Billy Zoom to Play XMas Shows!

Check out the link above to read the latest from X! Billy Zoom will play several shows in November and December, including Seattle’s Showbox! I’m honored to have a photo pass for this show on December 18th, and cannot wait to see them. My dear husband will be seated in the VIP section holding my purse if you’d like to pop by for a visit.

November 4, 2015 Posted by | The Showbox, X | , , , , | Comments Off on Announcement from X: “Our Very Own XMas Miracle! Billy Zoom to Play XMas Shows!”