- The seminal, legendary, critically acclaimed (sounds pretty stuffy eh?) So-Cal punk band X have reunited with the original members: John Doe, Exene Cervanka, D.J. Bonebrake, and Billy Zoom. In the early and mid eighties, our original W.E.T. River Trips crew had been to several X performances and wet rafting events in Sacramento at venues that no longer exist; however, they were coming back for one show at Harlow's (a compact club/restaurant).
When I heard about the show, I made a mental note and thought I might go. I didn't buy tickets due to my 25-year plus memory of an obscure band playing for small crowds of punks & hipsters and their appearance in town wouldn't be a big deal...I was wrong. The show sold-out 6 weeks in advance. So what did i do?...I went any way. Hey...It would be an another event no matter what.
As I stood outside on the sidewalk with a line snaking out the door and repeated announcements that the event was sold-out and no tickets would be available, I joined a clutch of others who had made the trip without tickets and were furtively asking passerbys for "tickets"..."got an extra ticket"...."cash for your ticket". It felt a little silly and a bit sleazy. After watching another ticketless sucker get a ticket by holding up a cardboard sign, I picked up the same sign and in 5 minutes I had a ticket at face F'n value! I'm was in. (I handed off the sign to one of my ticketless brothers....awesome team-building exercise!)
After going next store for a slice of pizza, I got in with my wristband and staked out a prime spot next to a pillar just to the right of center stage about 8 feet from the lip. The first band (hadn't even asked who they were) turned out to be the Filthy Thieving Bastards with Spider Stacy (a founding member of the Pogues). The band planned a rippin hour long set of classic Pogues material mixed with a few of the FTB's tunes. I felt like I had just seen the Pogues (without the spitting, beer bottles hucked at one another, and an on-stage fight)....almost PG...cool...but PG.
After the appropriate rock-star delay for X, I got a chance to look around at the crowd and interestingly...I didn't feel old at 53 (I had plenty of company). There were plenty of vintage punk t-shirt stretched at the waist, baldness, and greyness (replacing the dyed black do's of the 80's) ear to fill the room: toe-to-heel and shoulder to shoulder. I felt comfortable an oddly proud of these surrounding old people mixed with 20-30-40 some on a Thursday night listening to too-loud live music in a normally "upscale" club.
X hit the stage looking like X (Exene in trademark frumpy Granny dress and ragged lipstick, John Doe in denim and plaid, DJ grinning ear to ear behind his kit, and Bill Zoom in his trademark leather jacket accessorized with his Cheshire Cat grin, "Bill Zoom" tooled into his guitar strap and sporting a "Billy's Back!" lapel button). They were older...a little thicker and a little thinner (Billy's hair). John Doe led, Exene harmonized, DJ destroyed his kit (he did ruin a snare), and Billy (in full trademark style) ripped off lead after lead and fat distorted cords on his silver metalflake guitar while smiling his Cheshire grin, winking at the women, and refusing to look at his guitar.
John didn't chit chat...he just kicked ass. The only intro was political as he introduced "This must be the new World" with the reminder that the presidential election was looming large. The show was loud, note perfect, angst-ridden, and just a bit sloppy....the show was simply "right" and I felt pretty damn cool for an old bastard as I rode my motorcycle home...no not a Harley...the W.E.T KlR 650. (did I mention I couldn't hear for about 3 hours...it was awesome!)
Time for a long drive to some American whitewater to have the rationale to drag out the old-school I-Pod loaded with tons of X!