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New York Cool - Music

Irving Plaza’s Fillmore East
May 24, 2008

Written by Joshua Williams
Photographed by Amy Davidson

Opposite Photo: Billy Zoom

I am always filled with a bit of trepidation when it comes to seeing a band I was raised on. Are they going to be as great as I hope, or will they be tired, canned and going through the motions? I, along with many others, most likely became acquainted with X through Penelope Spheeris’s documentary, The Decline of Western Civilization. The movie, and the bands it filmed, is an integral part of my musical upbringing. So I was excited and cautious upon entering Irving Plaza’s Fillmore East on May 24th. Throughout the years, I had never had this opportunity. I have heard negative comments from people who had seen previous shows on tours past. “They sounded like a country band.” Or “You’re better off seeing the Knitters instead.”

There was of course, nothing to worry about as soon as they hit the first song, “The phone’s off the hook (and you’re not)”. They were obviously up to form, with a set of favorites peppered with some later tracks. I’m sure the crowd was pleased to hear all the favorites. They delivered with “Soul Kitchen”, “We’re Desperate”, “Sex and Dying in High Society”, and of course “Los Angeles”, and “Johnnie Hit and Run Pauline”. I was definitely satisfied as soon as I heard “Nausea”.

Exene Cervenka

The songs were good, and the band, even though they seem to be a group of folks you’d find yourself smoking a joint with behind a biker bar, delivered it in a tight professional set. John Doe lurched around the stage, playing bass like a street brawl. Exene Cervenka still pulls off an impish charm, and her unmistakable harmonies with Doe were just as I remembered. Billy Zoom does his thing, commanding stage right with his ultimate rockabilly god presence. His posture, in addition to the habit of winking at the young ladies while playing seems increasingly lecherous now that he’s sporting grey hair. It fits though; I think it makes for a better stage show.

John Doe

I’m not sure if it was DJ Bonebrake behind the kit since I couldn’t get a good look. If he was supplying the beat, or if it was a replacement, it was on time and on the money for the entire set. By the time it was over I wished I had seen them before. I won’t miss them again if the opportunity presents itself.

John Doe



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