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March 2008 concert: X at the Showbox

Two weeks ago on Monday March 31, I went to see X at The Showbox. Opening for them was Skybombers and Guns & Rossetti.

Both Guns & Rossetti and Skybombers are straightforward garage rock quartets - guitar and vocals, guitar and backing vocals, bass and backing vocals, drums. On their MySpace page Guns & Rossetti say, "we got together as an excuse to drink sixers, smoke weed and get away from our old ladies two nights a week," and that's about all you need to know about the band. They were decent but thoroughly unremarkable. Skybombers however were more energetic and more engaging than Guns & Rossetti. They made a real effort to work the crowd and get them excited. The lead singer had some serious guitar trouble, apparently breaking strings, and had to swap out guitars at least three times during their set. However, the first time it happened mid-song I didn't even realize there had been a problem, the band was so tight I just thought he was supposed to be without a guitar for that song. They did sound weaker - not worse, but weaker - without both guitars, but still pretty good. Although Skybombers also didn't hook me, I did enjoy their set more than Guns & Rossetti.

Legendary punk-rockabilly band X are the quartet of John Doe (bass, vocals), Exene Cervenka (vocals), Billy Zoom (guitar), and D.J. Bonebrake (drums). Setting the stage for the evening, they opened with "We're Having Much More Fun". Billy Zoom mugged for the audience the whole time, playing with a big grin. He seemed to be off in his own world, not really interacting with the rest of the band, but still played tight and made even his solos look effortless. John Doe did most of the talking for the band, whether thanking the audience or urging them to vote in November before playing "The New World". At one point he took a potshot at Simon Le Bon of Duran Duran for forgetting the lyrics to "Hungry Like the Wolf" and promised that wouldn't happen this evening, before the band played "The Hungry Wolf". Two songs later, Exene visibly slipped up on the lyrics and gave John an apologetic shrug and smile. Other hits they played included "In This House That I Call Home", "Los Angeles", "Johnny Hit & Run Pauline", and the show-closer "The World's A Mess; It's In My Kiss"; unfortunately they did not play "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts", which I would've liked. I found that although I recognized and enjoyed the hits, I wasn't grabbed by the songs I didn't know, and I think I'd be satisfied with a greatest-hits compilation. Also, although I enjoyed the show, it felt a little rote to me, as though X themselves were satisfied playing a greatest-hits compilation; they lacked passion. Still, they're definitely worth seeing live, and I'm glad that I did.

Ironically, the only decent band photo I took was of Guns & Rossetti, as I could get near the stage for that one; I was too far from the stage to get good photos of the other bands. The small set of six photos begins here.


I still have reviews to write for the KEXP Audioasis Live at the High Dive show last Saturday (April 5), featuring Mono In VCF, as well as Meat Beat Manifesto at Neumos last Wednesday (the 9th) and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult last night at El Corazón. It's been a busy week! Coming up, I'm considering attending two more shows at Neumos this month, Simian Mobile Disco on Thursday the 24th and Sons and Daughters on Tuesday the 29th. Next month, Joe Jackson is at The Moore Theatre on Sunday May 4, but honestly I'm not that excited about his new album Rain and with ticket prices starting at $39.50 (plus service fees, so really starting at $50) I think I'm just going to skip this one. However, I won't be missing the return of Ladytron, coming to The Showbox on Saturday May 24 - I've already got my ticket! I'll check the listings again in a week or two to see if anything else interesting turns up for May, and to get a glimpse of June.


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