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Show Review Crush: X at The Paradise 5/28/09

June 1, 2009

Last week, a single letter centered itself on the marquee at The Paradise.
X was coming to town.
Opening for them that Tuesday night was Steve Soto and The Twisted Hearts (who also played tonight at All Asia). I was very vaguely familiar with Steve Soto’s older bands, Agent Orange as well as The Adolescents, but his solo work was brand new to me. Upon entering the venue, I was interestingly surprised.
Steve Soto and The Twisted Hearts sounds nothing like the punk music I was expecting to hear.
Wanting to hear.
The song I walked in on smacked of Better Than Ezra meeting a New Orleans blues band. It was definitely not what I was assuming Soto’s current band would sound like – which is not necessarily a bad thing.
But the whole vibe of The Paradise was simply odd while the band played – no one moved very much – both in the band and in the crowd. There didn’t seem to be much audience participation. Soto himself even noticed the weird vibe when he said there was, “Such a difference from watching people bash into each other. It’s like the difference between watching hockey and tennis.”
They were playing tennis but expected a hockey response. And we wanted the hockey.
We all seemed a little grateful when they ended – everyone there wanted X.
Which made sense when I realized this was a kind of For the Fans show – fans could go to X‘s website and vote for their favorite songs to be played at the concerts within this tour.
X did not disappoint. They blasted on stage sounding exactly like their recordings, playing classics like, “White Girl,” “Breathless,” the Doors cover, “Soul Kitchen,” their first single off the Dangerhouse record label, “Adult Books,” and the most requested “Los Angeles,” exactly like they had 30 years ago.
“Maybe this song will have new meaning now,” Billy Zoom commented into Exene’s mic before “The New World,” a political song originally concerning President Reagan.
John Doe apologized, too, for having to restart, “Universal Corner,” for not having played the song live in two decades.
Exene still sang her poetic lyrics out of the side of her mouth, all closed-eyed and picaresque. Billy Zoom was classic, zipping through his punky rockabilly Johnny-B.-Goode-like solos with veteran ease while winking at audience members, mouthing to them, “Come up here!” and “I like you. Do you know that? I do.” John Doe and D.J. Bonebrake obliterated their feirce rhythm section.
X had more energy, more stage presence, and more oomph than most punk bands half their age. They were furiously fearless, beginning their encore with an acoustic folky song by Exene and John Doe, moving on to favorites, “Blue Spark,” and “Devil Doll.”
In a world where the lifespan of a band hits old age after the two year mark, it was incredible to see a band come back together and play songs they wrote 30 years ago that still have relevance and power today. Last year, fellow Dangerhouse band The Avengers toured Boston. Now we’ve gotten to see the vastly influential X. What treats of the past do we get to revel in next?

(And I’ll pause here for a parenthetical. I am 24 years old. Many times, I go to shows and feel either among my age peers or entirely too old to be there [holla, all ages shows!]. I was probably one of less than a dozen people at this concert under 30 – and the majority of concert-goers were likely over 40. Where were all the kids? I know X formed in the late 70s, but kids these days know who they are, right? Don’t they like good music? Respect the genre?
Sure they do. But maybe they couldn’t afford the ticket price. Advance tickets sold for $27.50. And I passed by a $100 X jacket at the merch table. I don’t know who assigns prices to merch and tickets but – did you hear? The economy sucks and lots of people are taking whatever job they can scrape off the crosswalk. It would’ve been nice if this show’s price tag was as accessible as the music X creates – maybe I wouldn’t have felt like the only 24 year old there.)
(Another parenthetical. Some dear named Michael bought my friend Joe and I a beer for no good reason other than to be nice. Cheers to Michael!)
(Last parenthetical. My friend Joe helped factcheck me on a lot of this. So I thank him if it’s all right and blame him if it’s all wrong.)

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One Comment
  1. Enjoyed your write-up! I'm recovering from seeing X in Athens and Atlanta this weekend. Still savoring it all. Their energy and fierceness, as you say, does not seem to fade as the years go by. They continue to inspire as a group and with their individual projects.

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