The weather was great Saturday night for a free concert in the park, but instead of chamber music or A Midsummer Nights Dream done as a hippie rock musical ( It was done with Susan Tyrell. I was there) we got to see X – a band that first came into the scene lauded by legendary rock critic Robert Hillburn as a rebellious group of post punks and poets to the symbol of keeping it real in the music business and not losing your staying power. The over all feeling of X being local heroes still holds true and was evident in the mass of people who showed up to get the free show. I ran into several people who had never seen them live before and as a person who had seen them in their prime I can tell you that the newcomers still got the best of it, even though we and they were not hopping around the place and voicing political opinions like they used to. Exene did shout out one little comment but I didn’t catch it. I did hear Doe reply “Nobody scares Exene” or “Nothing scares Exene.”
The sound system was a bit murky from where I was sitting, but Doe was heavy in the mix which was OK by me. We were fairly close and off to the side – a choice we decided on by arriving early, having had a bad experience three weeks ago when we went to see the Psychedelic Furs. On that night, we got stuck in the back and the sound was not very loud (probably some city ordinance) and because it wasn’t, it seemed that every nabob thought it was a perfect moment to talk about the types of Quinoa they bought at Trader Joes or some six foot yuppie trying to pick a fight with me because I accidentally stepped in front of his pint-sized girlfriend (I’m sure that Jackass who gave me a lecture on being rude always sits in the back row of a movie theater so he doesn’t block anyone with his out of fashion Jew-fro).
Unlike that night, from where we were, it was a waxing moon of good rocking and warm fuzzies. Mid-way through the show, which was a big singalong, I noticed behind me also singing was a rather elderly and totally unhip looking woman of possibly Mexican descent having a grand time. It was at that point that I realised that the gig had a splendid marriage of age and agelessness. The songs still had their power and pleased the old punks as much as the middle aged dads who were introducing their kids to X for the first time.
Had I known I was going to do an article on this I would have paid more attention to the set list and its order but the usual suspects made their appearance. All the hits. No obscure favorites like “Adult Books.” They started with “I’m Coming Over” and encored with “The New World.” John Doe remarked that he was sorry that they weren’t addressing the audience that night and chatting it up but he didn’t know what to say to so many people. He did dedicate two songs to Ray Manzarek, and “Soul Kitchen” wasn’t one of them. Exene held her own and sounded good. She was a bit laid back but did remarkably well considering how ill she had been for the last couple of years. D.J kept the beat, Doe was the charming troubador, and as always, Billy Zoom kept smiling and didn’t look at his frets once. “Nausea,” “Los Angeles” and “In This House That I Call Home” were my favorites of the evening.
Despite the grandness of it all, there were a few small turds in the punchbowl that you get with any large group of people, but nothing that could have erupted into a mini Altamont. Security was pretty chill until the last twenty minutes of the hour and a half set, when they were on the hunt for some teens who had brought their skateboards to the show. The only trip into the Twilight Zone me and my girlfriend “The Cub” experienced occured during the opening act of Spindrift. Sprindrift who came on the stage dressed as stage coach robbers is a largely instrumental band with a heavy Duane Eddy twang and a list of tunes that could easily accompany any Spaghetti Western Sound track. Seated next to us on the concrete flower planters was a silent blonde in her early fifties I guess, who laid out her sweater next to her to save a spot for her friend, a friend that would never come. At first we thought she was signaling for her friend, telling where her location was by holding her hand held high but after about five minutes it became clear that she was giving the old “Zieg Heil” Nazi Salute and that stiff arm did not waver for thirty minutes. I kid you not. Reaction to it started some whispers and tittering until a pack of young teens hopped over the planters and one plopped down on her sweater and she caught fire with something like — and I’ll paraphrase because I don’t recall the exact rant “Hey don’t you see that’s a saved seat you little asshole? I know you’re young and don’t give a shit, but I tried that crap when I was young and somebody broke my back — so you better remember that, you little cocksucker.” I’m sure she could have kept it going for another ten minutes but some dad in back of her said, “Hey, I got my 8 year old daughter here.” She composed herself verbally at any rate and a minute later the full blown Nazi salute continued ( and not no half assed Hitler salute like Hitler gave), but with the addition of putting her white frisbee on her head like a hat. She stayed until the first two songs of X, and then departed — presumably to a rally or a halfway house.
With the state of the economy the way it is and the high cost of live shows due to the internet cutting into music sales a free show with X was a much needed shot in the arm if not the keester. The summer may be dwindling, so keep abreast of the cheap and free events the Metropolis has to offer. We will inform you as much as possible, but I suggest you browse the LA Weekly from cover to cover and check on the site RentFoodBroke for cheap eats and free stuff and great events for under ten dollars. Last night Cinespia showed three Vampire films at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery but I think we chose the happier place – sort of the old punk’s version of Disneyland. Stay Scary