A Complete Guide to Which X Show You Should Attend
In the late seventies and early eighties, X emerged as the most prolific punk band on the West Coast. Their raucous rhythms, rebellious energy, and enigmatic lyrics cemented their reputation as raconteurs of the Los Angeles scene. Though they haven't released new material since the mid-nineties, they've continued to tour with the original lineup for the last decade. By all accounts, they haven't lost any of their rawness and realness despite divorce and disease and brief delusions.
Is X's Los Angeles night the perfect one for you?
Beginning Thursday, X will play four shows at City Winery, each night dedicated to one of their first four critically claimed LPs. Earlier this summer, they did the same at The Roxy, treating audiences to extended encores and a wide array of special guests, so while each night is certain to be worthy of witness, we've provided a handy guide to help show-goers decide which night to attend.
Since the band's debut is also its most well-known record, their first night at City Winery is already sold out. But there's a reason Los Angeles is so iconic: it's a snapshot the gritty underbelly of the DIY culture in which the band came up, when they were playing shows at The Whisky a Go-Go and The Masque. The songs, in a way, read almost like a biography of the band's discontent and diagrams the essential qualities that Billy Zoom and John Doe had in mind when forming X: Ramones-style irreverence in three glorious chords.
Classic Cuts: "Johnny Hit and Run Paulene," "Los Angeles," and "The World's a Mess; It's in My Kiss"
Who Should Go: Because these songs are so central to the band's legacy, you're likely to hear them at some point during encores later in the week. If you're a diehard for dismal, bluesy deep cuts like "The Unheard Music" hit Stub-hub right now. Also, if you're an L.A. transplant.
While Los Angeles was the vehicle that got X noticed, Wild Gift was their first huge critical success; Rolling Stone named it "Record of the Year" and it hit #2 on our Pazz & Jop Critics Poll for 1981. In a rave review, Robert Christgau noted the brilliant give-and-take between Exene Cervenka and John Doe's enthralling counter-harmonies, musing "How often do we get a great love album and a great punk album in the same package?"
Classic Cuts: "The Once Over Twice," "White Girl," "Year 1"
Who Should Go: If you have a short attention span and attitude to spare, Wild Gift is your bread and butter. It's a more condensed, explosive version of all the spitfire from their earliest years and finds the band solidly in their punk rock footing. Take a former lover you still have feelings for.
See also: Interview: Exene Cervenka of X