Wednesday, September 28, 2011

X -- Birchmere -- Sep 27 2011

X - Prior to the band's set, we were privileged to see "X: The Unheard Music", a documentary about the band from 1986. I had seen this before and recall the hilarious record company executive interview along with some good bits from Robert Biggs and some nice performances from the band. It was fine aside from the fact that when the Birchmere says this will be an all standing show in the Bandstand they mean it. Zero seats anywhere which meant a lot of us crashed on the floor to watch the film. After a short break, the original lineup hit the stage with Billy Zoom marching to his own beat as usual by going up a couple minutes early. They had promised to do two albums in their entirety and began with their debut. They usually play about half of those songs anyway, but it was nice to hear some of the obscure ones as there isn't a wrong note on that album. The sound was strong and the band did have a nice energy to it, particularly in the rhythm section. John and Exene blended well as usual, but something was a bit off with Billy Zoom. Normally he is wall to wall grins, but he was a bit more dour tonight. He mugged it up at times, but something seemed a bit off with his mood and the way the band usually meshes. They then went into songs from their second album and "Hungry Wolf" and pretty much eschewed the second album concept, which was fine by me as a lot of the songs were ones I enjoyed more anyway (note-The Birchmere site was updated to reflect this approach). "Back to the Base" almost sounded hardcore, the way these guys were working it. I was enjoying it. They ended up having three false starts which was a little startling, but I almost glad to see that as it confirmed my underlying feeling that something was a little off tonight. The songs are too good and the players are pros, so it was still a lot of fun. But I am also going to guess that maybe certain members did not want to do that other (4th?) album in entirety bit and perhaps there has not been much rehearsal lately. But I first marveled at this band 30 years ago when they had to do two sets and repeat some songs since they had not written enough at that time. I've seen them a few more times in recent years and I will see them again if they return. For the record, Exene looked in better shape than I expected and I hope she can continue to handle her MS so well (and I liked he 'Seventh Victim' haircut). They are a treasure and I think everyone should catch them while they can.

Quote of the Night:  From the That's What I Like about the Birchmere Dept....

I bumped into my buddie Zak from the excellent veteran hardcore punk band, The Mostly Dead and told him: "Glad to see you out for the old timers."
"Yeah, I was just saying to (my friend) that this is one of the few times I can actually feel young at a show."


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the review. I was curious how it went, wanted to be there but couldn't make it.

David Hintz said...

Sure, and thanks for reading. As I mentioned (and as you know) X are well worth seeing when possible, but maybe next time it will be a little sharper like it was at the last couple of shows they played in DC.