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X Webster Theater Hartford CT Friday August 29th, 2014 Reviewed

X

In October of 2011 I had the opportunity to interview my idol Exene Cervanka of the band X. A fantastic experience that only solidified my love of her. Outspoken and opinionated she motivated me just the same at 44 as she did when I was 14. She is an idol worth having and despite of her recent press that feeling will never change. Although ‘eccentric’ behavior is my girls agenda, her latest rants were had many thinking she was off her meds. My feeling? She is entitled to her words, her thoughts and her beliefs. So sit down- shut up and listen to her. You dont have to agree, but don’t attack.

I saw and reviewed the band perform the album “Los Angeles” just a few weeks later in Boston as part of their “Unheard Music” video release and it was a performance filled with mixed emotion. So very full of myself and steeped in the thought that they were too old, I was knocked off my feet with the realization that the 50+ crowd still had it- and had it strong.

Booked as headliner of the very odd and obscure TNT Festival at Hartford CTs Webster Theater three night extravaganza they topped a bill of band who…well to be quiet honest with you I had never heard of. The crowd? Your dad in a spiked vest and that 20 year old kid who thinks he invented punk.

What bothered me is the last minute change, of stage. The Webster has two stages the ‘main room’ where this gig was to happen holds over a thousand easily. But last minute and poor ticket sales threw my faves into the pit known as ‘the underground’ a small stage so small that there is no room for baricade or ‘backstage’, bands enter through the bar and have to hoist themselves onto the hip height platform. The rooms capacity? 320 and for X it was about half full. It was surreal 80s night with hardcore band Negative Approach doing a hell of a job rattling the skinhead fused audience. I scored 4 good kicks to my kidneys a boot to the head and a rib hit so hard I thought I was gonna go down, but I stood firm. You’d have to pry my dead corpse off the floor before Id move and to this moment I have no idea what these people were trying to prove, or maybe they weren’t proving anything at all and just venturing back to 1980 just like I was, only I wasn’t dressed in my 80’s attire.

This being said a band that goes on at midnight better bring it and bring it hard- this is Connecticut not New York, and this crowd hired babysitters. Lets hope the kids are at grandmas house cuz its a late night- the sad bit? X gets an hour- and nothing more with a 12:05 posted start time. And theyre running half an hour late to boot.

Los Angeles was originally released in 1980 but re-released in 83 with Wild Gift, this being the ultimate bargain for cash straped punkers such as myself. College radio ushered it in and we kept it alive. Apparently for 34 years, cuz there I was smack dab in the middle of close to midlife crisis punks and not minding it a bit. The problem here is multi fold- it was hot as satans crotch in there, I mean rank filthy sweat and beer fused hell with zero circulation and the band felt it. Next up a sound system that forced bassist vocalist John Doe to kick his monitor a few times and Exene to pinch an ear to hear herself-they couldn’t get it right, he was too loud she not loud enough but it did carry to the crowd, it just bugged them, but they had fans helping a bit with their heat stroke so suck it up. The last bit was what I will call the speed round. After the run down of “Los Angeles’ In its entirety (and totally without ability to understand the lyrics as they were inaudible, the ‘hits’ were gone through at record pace. Time constraints, curfew time.. just like yo, I gots to go.

But this is X, and X is grand. DJ Bonebrake the most rock steady drummer of his era was gracious and smiling as the show ended shaking my hand and taking time with fans to exchange pleasantries. Billy Zoom, looking a smidgen more frail then I remember had a knee down landing when he got up on the stage and a cautious departure but during the hour set- the same familiar firm stance and boyish smirk- love the consistency of his demeanor. Exene, wells hes lost some weight, carrying herself in that older lady form rounded and flattened and aging as she should. Beautiful, quirky and oddly unstable looking, how I adore her. Vocally strong from what I can hear but she seemed irked with the sound and barreled like a freight train through the tunes- I’m pretty sure she wanted out. John Doe? Well he did his job, yelled at the sound board a few times, kicked the monitor as I mentioned before and tried feebly to engage with the audience, he wasn’t diggin in either. The band did their job like the pros they are. I, as a fan was thrilled to be so close for such a great set- just wish the sound was better.

Im not sure if it was the tiny stage with the bad sound, the poor turnout or the unbearable heat but the rush was real. Doesnt change how much I love them, but rather is a reality check that even old punks can not be in the mood.

Set List in record time

 

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