Just got home from seeing my favorite band of all time, X, play at the Showbox tonight. I’m still a little deaf and elated and am eager to type the blog entry I was thinking about during the show. Not a report on the show, or a high-minded pontification on the importance of their 31 year history, but a list of why X is the best band in the world. But first, listen to a sample song (albeit slower and more serious than most – just didn’t want to blast you out at work).
Why X is the best band in the world (in priority order):
1. Exene‘s totally unique sense of harmony. I am positive there are music theorists who have written papers on how this woman hears harmony – the harmonies she sings are often dissonant but somehow they work. I remember John Doe talking about it in a documentary and he said he tried to teach her standard harmonies but she just didn’t get it and he has no idea where her harmonies come from. She says she just hears them. Maybe she’s from outer space.
2. Their lyrics are poetry. Not pretentious, not melodramatic, more political and human – like beat poetry. “Honest to goodness, the bars weren’t open this morning, they must’ve been voting for a President or something, do you have a quarter I said yes because I did, Honest to goodness the tears have been falling all over this country’s face. It was better before before they voted for what’s his name. This was supposed to be the New World.”
3. They use sophisticated but accessible melodies. Flat out good tunes.
4. John Doe’s vocal quality. It’s just awesome. He’s sexy. Exene and John Doe had a tumultuous relationship which is chronicled in some of their best songs.
5. They have a great sense of humor. “The devil drives a Buick and sits inside and eats lunch, and he sticks his pitchfork through the trunk and into the spare, and pulls out True Love.”
6. They aren’t snotty and egotistical. Think of what it felt like when Nirvana triumphed over Guns and Roses. That was the second coming of punk, and X was the first.
7. Their music is unclassifiable. They are considered to be one of the founders of punk, but their hillbilly roots and unique harmonies put them in a genre all their own. They are punk with twang. They are X.
8. Exene is not only a singer but a writer and visual artist. Her art contributes greatly to the band’s aesthetic, gracing their album covers, posters, shirts, etc. Her style is dark and kitschy – lots of black cats, 13’s, and ornate collages.
9. Billy Zoom plays with a silly grin on his face. He almost looks animatronic.
10. DJ Bonebrake is a solid drummer. Not showboaty, but satisfying.
I LOVE X. I am so glad they are still together after 31 years!
Turn it up! The entire Wild Gift album:
“I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts”