Seminal California punk rockers X graced the Showbox last Friday, a mere four months after the Knitters blasted through the Tractor Tavern in January. The Heels, local (almost) all-girl band and one partGloryholes /one part The Hot Rollers foursome opened the show. These girls have bucket loads of charm and and definitely know how to have a good time, with front-woman Paula trouncing onstage in a pink nightie with a pink boa in her hair. It was hard to hear them above the lewd cheering of "We love pink!" and "The Heels are hot!" from a trio of post-middle age men who had obviously knocked quite a few drinks back. Not only were they twice these girls ages and wasted beyond all get out… they remarkably continued their heckling after The Heels were done and milling around about the fairly sparse crowd.
Glendale, CA rocker Steve Soto & the Twisted Hearts filled the middle slot. Steve Soto was part of the late 70s/early 80s punk scene in California (member of The Adolescents and Agent Orange) along with bands like Social Distortion and Legal Weapon. He now fronts the Twisted Hearts, a well-schooled and precision band that Dad-rocked through their entire set to the swelling crowd. Their performance and was smooth and practiced, but the facial contortions of the Joe Satriani look-alike guitarist made it hard to take the music seriously.
Exene led the pack of X members onstage to clapping crowd. She looked equally as placid as with the Knitters earlier in the year, but once again held her own and belted out song after song. The ever-charismatic John Doe was friendly and talkative throughout their set, commenting between songs and rocking himself into a sweaty frenzy. Guitarist Billy Zoom had a relaxed, and slightly creepy, smile plastered on his face throughout the entire show. He stiffly gyrated to the music, calmly playing along and slyly picking a face out of the crowd near the stage and winking or nodding at the fans. If I didn't know better, I'd assume he had dropped something other than a beer down his throat. He seemed to be at the apex of happiness, a silly grin and lovey eyes encompassing everyone around him.
X sounded phenomenal, pumping out Wild Gift and Los Angeles hits galore, with the awesome octopus-armed D.J. Bonebrake on the drums. "In This House That I Call Home" and "White Girl" riled the crowd and towards the end of their set people started clapping in the middle of songs, before they'd even finished them. Just like their albums (especially the first two), their performance was raw and powerful. InExene's non-melodic wales and John Doe's frenetic bass playing you could catch a glimpse of what it might have been like to see such a punk band in the early drug-laced, dirty-faced LA punk scene. They sounded ragged and muscular and perfectly in sync with each other, plowing through their catalog and satisfying my own personal expectations of a show I'd waited so long to see.