X rocked the Roxy on Thursday with their first of four X-mas shows at the Hollywood venue. Mike Watt and the Secondmen opened with a set list fit more for a co-headliner than an opening act. After over an hour of Watt’s driving bass and high energy songs, the crowd was warmed up and ready for X.
‘Tis the season for X to mount a west coast tour. As John Doe explained, “This is our 44th annual X-mas tour.” Exene Cervenka quickly squashed this notion with a laugh, “No it isn’t.” (X was formed in 1977.) The banter continued as Doe offered with a grin, “Well, we’re not doing any Christmas songs.” “Well, now I kinda want to,” Cervenka replied.
While they didn’t end up playing any Christmas tunes, the tone for the show was set by the two singers’ exchange. The audience was treated to a spirited performance of X classics, and the band was clearly having a good time playing them. Before, during, and between songs, the band members could be seen sharing a quick laugh or smile.
Speaking of smiling, guitarist Billy Zoom returned to the band after a several month hiatus due to his cancer treatment. The band’s official website dubbed his return an “Xmas miracle,” and the audience was clearly delighted to see him onstage again. Zoom was a bit thinner and understandably appeared a little fatigued, but he played flawlessly and rarely could be seen without the grin on his face that X fans have come to know so well.
As the band played into the night, the audience that watched, sang, and danced along featured an interesting group of people. There was a one-woman-dance-party sporting a Courtney Love style black baby doll dress with white collar that weaved through the crowd, passing a young guy wearing a 1980’s era jean jacket with buttons of bands pinned all over the front of it. Behind him was a businessman that had come from the office, stripped off his tie and blazer, and was singing all the words to every song the band played. A lady standing next to me had flown in from Colorado with tickets for all four nights. The fifty year old guy next to her was enjoying the show and had admitted earlier that his wife wouldn’t be happy that he was going to be out two nights in a row (he was going to the Together Pangea show at the Echoplex the following evening).
This crowd, unified in their love for X, danced as DJ Bonebreak pounded the drums through “Motel Room in my Bed.” They bobbed as Zoom’s guitar riffs drove “Your Phone’s Off the Hook, But You’re Not.” And they sang loudly as Cervenka and Doe belted out “Los Angeles.” Eventually, all good things must end, and as the show drew to a close, I overheard several people say that they were going to buy tickets to see another night of X at the Roxy. It appears that maybe some people figured out a way to make the good times last a little longer.
Words: Jon Bostick
Photography: Wes Marsala