Last week we went to see the X, the quintessential Los Angeles punk band. They were back "home", playing two nights at the Music Box as part of their "13-31 Anniversary" tour.
Wow! What a great show. For this tour, it was the original line-up of John and Exene, Billy and D.J. The "13-31" comes from this is their 31st anniversary (duh) and 13 is a number that plays into many of their songs. They didn't tour for the 30th because John was busy promoting his latest release. Hey, anytime I get to see these guys is OK with me.
And it seemed OK with all the fans that showed up on the two (probably) sold-out nights.
I wasn't the only one there with grey hairs, that's for sure. I'm going to say that at least 75% of the audience was "of a certain age": those that had originally gone to X's shows at the Masque and all those other cool old places. Many of these people are now parents who brought their "children" to see the show. I only saw a couple really young kids, like 10 or younger...most were teens and young adults. Dale's older daughter (almost 21!) was with us. We had taken both his kids to see X a few years ago and totally blown away, they said, "OK, now I GET it." Meaning..."now we know why you are so insane about your music..we always thought you were just weird".
The show was really tight, not too much chit-chat between songs. John did exhort us to all get out and vote before they launched into "New World". It's amazing, if that song came out tomorrow, it would have the same impact. Hell, if ANY of their songs came out tomorrow, they would still be fresh as day 1.
Exene looks like the evil haus-frau with her apron and cowboy boots; John still has the choir-boy-gone-astray look, Billy Zoom looks the same as he did 31 years ago (God, that guy can play!); and D.J. Bonebrake is now follically-challenged, but keeps the beat perfectly. We had seen another of D.J.'s bands, "Orchestra Superstring", open for Brave Combo last August.
For the first encore, Exene and John came out and played an acoustic number, "See How We Are", which totally blew everyone away. Here's a set list that I swiped from The News Tribune of Tacoma. I'm pretty sure the show I saw was the same.
I only wish I had seen them play back in the day. I first got here in late 1980. By then, the punk scene had already veered off into a more violent direction, one that was well documented (and probably exaggerated) by the media. So, being the cautious hick from Wisconsin, I just bought the albums and got to read about it in the LA Weekly. Dale got to go to the shows and said that John and Exene even came to a Felton party.
If you'd like to learn more about the early LosAngeles punk scene, this is a wonderful book--check it out.