Thursday, March 20, 2008

X at the Metro - A Quick Recap

So it's the 31st anniversary of the formation of one of the most influential punk bands ever, L.A.'s seminal X. I saw them a few years ago when they played the House of Blues. It was the first time I'd seen the original lineup, though I've seen John Doe play solo a few times and he usually throws a couple of X songs into his solo sets.

This was the fourth or fifth show of their current tour. They took the stage a little after 10:30 and played for about an hour and 15 minutes. I'll cop to never having seen their shows when they were actually producing new music (I was just a little kid), but the amount of energy they bring to their live shows can't have been much greater back then. They were a little sloppy at times, probably because they had such a long set list. It's easy to lose your place on the page when you've got 20 songs listed. Exene Cervenka chalked it up to being "new at this". But there's nothing more fun that watching Billy Zoom, wide stanced and almost motionless, standing there with a huge grin on his face while delivering some of the most complex guitar work found on any punk record. From Buddy Siegal in the OC Weekly:
Dave Alvin, the former Blasters' axe man who ultimately replaced Zoom, is a renowned guitar hotshot in his own right, but he soon learned that stepping into Zoom's cowboy boots was no easy task. "I was amazed when I had to actually sit down and learn 32 songs in two weeks," says Alvin. "How Billy Zoom put his parts together was amazing. For a three-piece band, his orchestration on guitar was really tremendous. They were almost mathematically perfect arrangements. Billy likes tinkering with machines and electronics, and in some ways, his guitar parts are put together like schematics. I'm more of a primitive. I lack that kind of technique, and Billy was very, very advanced. I learned a lot; my guitar playing improved a lot after I had to sit down and learn all of his parts. There's a part of me that's forever in his debt, from having my Billy Zoom guitar lessons. A lot of punk bands-a lot of any bands-don't have these kind of intelligent guitar parts. That guy is really good."
Decide for yourself in the samples below. Here's the incomplete and out of order setlist (they played at least six or seven more songs than this - probably closer to ten):
  • Once Over Twice
  • We're Desperate
  • In This House That I Call Home
  • White Girl
  • Back to the Base
  • Your Phone's Off the Hook, But You're Not
  • Johnny Hit and Run Paulene
  • Soul Kitchen
  • Nausea
  • Los Angeles
  • The New World
  • True Love
  • Hungry Wolf
  • Motel Room in my Bed
  • Because I Do
  • Riding With Mary
  • Blue Spark
  • The Unheard Music
I was pretty stoked that they played Blue Spark. That's one of my favorite X songs, and they didn't play it the last time I saw them. Aside from that, you always expect to hear Hungry Wolf, Los Angeles, and White Girl, and they didn't disappoint last night. Here are those three (though the Hungry Wolf video is missing the beginning for some reason - also, give White Girl about a minute twenty before the song actually starts):

Sun Times Review


Peter said...

Yay! Great review! I saw them back in '83, and they were even better last night.

Do you have any idea who that guy was who read the poetry before X came on stage?

Mat said...


Nice cameo by Ray Manzarek in the recording booth ...


Seitz said...

Do you have any idea who that guy was who read the poetry before X came on stage?

That was local celebrity Thax Douglas. I'd venture to guess that he reads poems to open probably somewhere between 50% and 75% of the concerts I go to. If you regularly go to the Metro, Schuba's, or any of the other 150-1,500 capacity venues, you'll see him a lot. He's a really nice guy. I've chatted with him a few times. And the best thing is that his poems are really short.

Peter said...

Thanks for the Thax info! I've lived in Chicago for two years -- have been to Metro twice and Schuba's once -- and a few of the other rawk-type clubs (Fleshtones at the Subterranean were a treat!) -- I appreciate the info!