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Review: X at the Showbox

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When you hear that an iconic band is playing a show thirty-five years after they formed you might cringe a bit. What would the show be like? Are they just doing this to milk some more money out of their long time fans like so many bands have done before? There is no way they could sound good, right? Legendary punk rock band X answered all those questions on Saturday night at the Showbox at the Market. 

As they took the stage and started playing ‘The Phone’s Off The Hook But You’re Not’ it was apparent this was not going to be some simple nostalgia show. The band played loud and with all the energy you might have expected from them in 1977. While they may have been a bit more gray-haired and prone to wrinkles there seemed to be no lost step from their younger versions. Those in the back of the packed room might have wondered if they traveled back in time for the night.

John Doe wore an old cowboy shirt and banged away on a bass guitar that looked like it was a thousand years old. He was into the show, interacting with fans between verses and leaning into his microphone so much that you weren’t sure how it didn’t tumble into the crowd. His voice sounded just as desperate, and great, as it did in the good old days. He seemed to be enjoying himself, smiling often and rocking out with his band mates.

Exene Cervenka prowled the stage between songs and then bounced around the stage during them. She glared at the audience the whole time as she meshed her voice with Doe’s in their signature X style. She did not say much to the crowd but the constant glare told you that she was on that stage to take care of business and that she was not going to be messed with. After all, if you’re going to see X don’t you want to be glared at by Exene?

To the right of her guitarist Billy Zoom played his customary glittery Gretsch guitar, ripping out solos and rockabilly riffs all night long. His hair looked the same as it did in 1980, albeit with a bit more gray in it, proving that some styles never go out. He stood still most of the night, smiling now and then in a black leather jacket. He was confident and the only words to describe him Saturday night are ‘bad ass’.

X ripped through most of their classic songs which delighted the mixed crowd. It was quite the spectacle to see gray hair dudes belting out the songs next to women in their twenties. All of them just as enthusiastic as the next one. This is a rare show that featured an old band, and a crowd made up of people who were there at the beginning and some that were young enough to be their children.

All of that speaks to the music X has produced over the years. Even 35 years later it still sounds important, desperate and needed.