by Dave Negative


Despite having waved goodbye to the staunchly independent punk rock scene they helped create when they signed to Elektra in '82, X, to their credit, still made an effort to play smaller venues at a reasonable price once in a while (like they did last year at an art/music faire in San Jose for $10) so some of their old fans could still see them if we wanted to. This show, however, at $30 a ticket, was not one of those. So I pulled a few strings through a friend of mine who used to work Security at Slim's and scammed my way onto the "guest list."

50 Foot Wave, former Throwing Muses singer/guitarist Kristin Hersh and bassist Bernard Georges' new post-punk three-piece, reminded me why I've never liked college radio friendly so-called "alternative music" or it's fans. Their stiff execution of "Sally Is A Girl," "El Dorado," "Clara Bow," "Long Painting," and "Dog Days" from the group's self-titled CD E.P. and Golden Ocean full-length - heavily derivative of New Day Rising / Flip Your Wig period Hüsker Dü sans energy, passion, and everything else that made them so good - being about as entertaining to watch as clothes slowly spinning in the dryers of a laundromat. I was one of only a dozen or so punks mid all the ex-80's new wavers gone shamefully yuppie in the audience (a few of them were actually talking at length on their cell-phones while the band was playing) who just stood there nodding along like quiet rows of plastic bobble-headed novelty dolls. Lazy applause followed each song with an occasional "whoo" or "yeah" as Kristin offered them the same barely audible "Thank you" from the stage and nothing more. This wasn't my scene at all.

X, along with Bad Brains, Circle Jerks and the Ramones, is consistently one of the best live acts I've ever seen. And with the original "Exene" (aka. Christine Cervenka) (vocals), "John Doe" (aka. John Duchac) (bass/vocals), "Billy Zoom" (aka. Tyson Kindell) (guitar), Don "D.J." Bonebrake (drums) line-up intact they delivered an absolutely flawless performance incorporating choice material from the rockabilly accented late 70's/early 80's punk rock ire of Los Angeles, Wild Gift, and Under The Big Black Sun to the politico country-folk leanings of More Fun In The New World. Even "Johny Hit And Run Paulene," a song they refused to play for nearly a decade due to so. Cal. beach-punk gangs misconstruing and violently championing it as somehow "pro-rape," was included as well as an inspiring cover of Woody Guthrie's "This Land Is Your Land." The crowd's demeanor, however, remained insufferably blasé except for their heckling Exene's denouncement of the Clinton administration's support for "free trade" during her introduction to "The New World" with cries of "WHAT ABOUT BUSH?!" Not intimidated in the least by such faux-Left hypocrisy she responded "Bush Jr. is a war-monger like his dad but he didn't sign those NAFTA treaties: BILL CLINTON DID! Democrats are no better than Republicans when it comes to favoring big business at the expense of working people and the poor." I couldn't have said it better myself.

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