Ridgefield Connecticut is the sort of town where you’d expect to find tennis whites and Vinyard Vines run a muck.. You don’t expect to find legendary punk band X tucked into the back of a kitchen supply company and adjacent to a playground across from the police station. You wouldn’t expect to- but I did.
The Ridgefield Playhouse is a 500 person auditorium just perfect for little Susie’s dance recital or the local theater troops rendition of Grease. It is the absolute worse place to see a band like X. With a security guard who was so full of bravado that he had the audacity to heft one of his beefy legs onto the stage in some macho gorilla pose the already subdued soccer mom crowd had no chance to welcome the band appropriately.
The opening act Dead Rock West fit the venue to perfection. A duo from California they have just released their tribute to the Everly Brothers and they twang and smile and sparkle just like an act from the old Lawrence Welk show. Their cheesy over smiling reminded me of a Saturday Night Live skit. They’re extremely talented and honestly in any other situation I would have appreciated them on their own merits- but opening for X, I just couldn’t digest.
But hey.. X is in the house so all is right with the world. They took the stage right on time with Jesse Dayton on guitar. Jesse is doomed if he continues to rip off Billy Zooms poses. This crowd wasn’t wise enough to realize it- but I was. The posturing should be trademarked, don’t do it. Billy is out on chemo and pray to God he comes back soon. Jesse, musically was fantastic. Fit right in as a studio musician but again, he had the balls to take on some signature moves, for that he lost my respect. You can cover an artist without miming them, try that on the next stop.
Drummer DJ Bonebrake refuses to age. Keeping time like a beast after all these years and with finesse and class he amazes me with his consistent energy, never ever letting up and never leaving his persona. The guy is 59, you go daddy-oh.
And the duo? Exene and John what can I say I have idolized you both for decades and tonight Exenes mic was so low that even knowing every lyric I couldn’t make out the words. A horrible sound system at the Playhouse is simply not equipped for a rock band,the acoustics were atrocious.
But the hits were played and John Doe turned on his charm.. Seeming less annoyed than the last gig I attended he flirted with the side stage and moved around with the power of a legend. Oh, his mic was fine and clear. Go figure.
The stoic crowd barely moved. The ‘staff’ turned away anyone who tried. This left an audience that appears like this from the rear Sorry its so blurry but I was too busy sobbing over the lame crowd to focus. How on Earth can you listen to a band like X and sit that still as if you’re listening to a financial planner giving you tips on how to save for retirement. THIS WAS A ROCK SHOW.
The band was great but on auto pilot, they served up everything from ‘Breathless’ to “Johnny Hit and Run Pauline”. Exene did her cutie pie dance, John did his wide legged rockabilly boy swagger, DJ banged the fuck out of the drums and Jesse pretended to be Billy with Matt Dillons mustache.
And the crowd did this in appreciation. X Deserved better… I am sorry. Come back to me (but at a different venue)
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