Monday, June 1, 2009

Dereliction of Duty

My plan was to get back to the M-W-F schedule of posting here at the Society once June hit. Last night, however, I went to see ‐X‐ play their final night at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC. Between the midnight wrap-up and the train ride home, I didn’t get in until 3 AM. I’m dragging ass today and feeling a bit creatively bankrupt as a result. But it’s alright. John Doe, punk rock statesman, gave the audience permission to be unproductive today on the grounds of “Hey man, I was at a punk rock show last night!” I’ll be back up and running on Wednesday.


Dan Lawson said...

I am, of course, envious. So, how was it?

Sham aka Dave said...

It's OK, take the day off from blogging, then have the audacity to flaunt why you are doing so in my face. I've never seen X live, but I hear they used to put on a truly rockin' performance. I'll echo Dan, how were they?

Timeshadows said...

"I am the hungry wolf..."

Michael Curtis said...

It was the first time that I’ve seen them perform live so I only have Decline of Western Civilization to judge their stage performance by, despite being a fan of their music for many years. Musically, the band was as tight and as rocking as they’ve ever been, which is only natural considering how long they’ve been at this. Outside of one incident where Billy Zoom started one song while John and DJ started another (which brought laughter from both the band and the audience), they were spot on the whole night. That’s pretty impressive considering it was their third night in a row playing at the Bowery Ballroom and I’m sure they were looking forward to moving on to a new venue.

The set list was largely chosen from Los Angeles, Wild Gift, and Under a Big Black Sun. John and Exene started the encore with an acoustic version of “Fourth of July,” which served as a nice counterpoint to the rest of the evening’s harder set. If I had a complaint, it was only that they didn’t manage to squeeze in either “Burning House of Love” or “Call of the Wrecking Ball.” My two personal favorites, “The Have Nots” and “White Girl” both made appearances.

As for the stage show, if Decline is any indication of their usual stage performance, it seems that the band hasn’t changed all that much. John displayed the most energy, even pogoing at times as he played. Billy Zoom stood, legs splayed, with his glitter-cover guitar and a lackadaisical smile on his face, while DJ, his hair gone white and on its way out, kept perfect time. Exene didn’t display much in the way of stage presence but from what I recall from Decline, she never did. She takes the stage but doesn’t work the stage.

Despite how wiped out I was today, I’m glad I went to see them play. Punk rock bands that (a) have all their original lineup still living and (b) are still talking to one another are incredibly rare nowadays. I went to see -X- largely because nobody’s getting any younger – neither the band nor myself. Every show that any punk band plays is getting to be in “last chance to see” territory.

One final observation about the night is this: I think Exene doomed herself with her stage fashion choice all those many years ago. Back in the 80s, when she was wearing vintage “grandma” dresses on stage, it was ironic and sexy-cute. But in 2009, when she’s in her 50s, wearing the grandma dress is no longer ironic and just gives her a frumpy, almost crazy baglady-like, appearance. She came down to talk to people in the lounge before the show and I had a moment where I wasn’t certain if it was her or an obsessed fan who was dressing like Exene back in the day. When she’s on stage next to John Doe, who was wearing a slick, sharkskin suit, it’s a look that’s even more disconcerting. I know she’s being faithful to the -X- legacy but one can’t wonder if she ever thinks she might have made a poor fashion choice back in 80-something.

Mike D. said...

Count me amongst the envious. Sounds like a kick arse show.

Keith Sloan said...

Sweet! Last time I saw X live was in 1987...that makes me feel OLD!

David Larkins said...

Every show that any punk band plays is getting to be in “last chance to see” territory.

Looks like X might have crossed into that territory even as we speak... :(

Thanks for the detailed show review; sounds like it was pretty amazing.

Timeshadows said...

"Looks like X might have crossed into that territory even as we speak... :( "

Well, that isn't good/ :(
My friend's wife is suffering with MS.

Michael Curtis said...

I saw the announcement yesterday. I wish Exene the best of health and hope for her future well-being. Although I wouldn't count out a future tour by the band completely, this certainly does seem to limit its possibility and I'm glad I finally got to see them live.