Saturday, August 13, 2016

X -- State Theatre - Aug 12 2016

by John Miller

X - Under the Big Black Sun was my partner; it was appreciated. Driving cross country on an ill advised trip, this along with a 80's pop compilation (purchased somewhere in Arizona) kept me distracted. On regular rotation until stolen, it was then purchased again, stolen again, and purchased once more last year, though I did so digitally. The spaces, the pauses, and writing; with each loop, something new revealed itself. Throughout the evening X would do much the same; Exene let us know early on that they would be adding a fifth member so they could try something different. Bonebrake hopped between both the drums and xylophone. It never felt like a necessity but with each trip, a compliment. Zoom, much to the delight of the very large crowd, brought out his saxophone on a few occasions. I was surprised with the response the instrument received, never figured the aging audience would be so excited for a woodwind. Though the loudest response came from Los Angeles; the call and response was the loudest I have heard sense I began writing here. And though John and Exene seemed to be less experimental; both sounded excellent. Perhaps the most intriguing part of the evening was the ease with which both Bonbrake and Zoom played. Zoom especially. Often I would find him staring out into the crowd, occasionally peaking down between significant changes as his hand would run the neck of the guitar. It was all so easy. Bonbrake on the other hand was relentless during The Hungry Wolf; everyone stepped aside as he pounded the toms.
Much to my delight, X actually ran through much of Under the Big Black Sun. I would be remiss to say that I was hoping/praying X would play Come Back to Me. The song, one of my favorites, is an amazing piece of writing, especially the third verse. “Florida souvenirs” and “the space in your steps” are these super specific details that Exene recalls of her late sister, yet are, in their own way, relatable despite their inherent specificity. About half way through, X played it. They added a fifth member and Bonebrake relinquished control of the drums to play the xylophone. An inspired choice as the instrument added to the dream-like quality of the song. Exene could have sung about the way her sister sounded as she walked across their house, but it was the literal spaces that she knew so well, the absence of sound, the nothingness. And that emptiness gets me every time. It reminds me of the way my father's shoes sounded against the wooden floors or the way he would pick up his keys and twirl them into his hand. Small, auditory, details, like fingerprints. Amazing. My only complaints from tonight are the unrelenting heat of The State Theatre and their continual feedback issues, which seem to be an issue with each show I see here.


Chris O. said...

Agreed, it was a delight to hear a more varied set than usual and to have DJ play marimba on a few songs. In case you are not yet familiar with it, check out the album "Unclogged", where DJ plays marimba and, if I recall correctly, no drums at all. It was recorded when Tony Gylickson(?) was on guitar.

I don't know if it was the mix or what, but Billy's guitar didn't sound a ferocious as usual. However, Exene was in top form, the best I've seen her in the last few years.

It's a shame the State seems to specialize in "tribute" bands. I like the space and wish they would give me reason to go there more often. X is certainly reason enough.

David Hintz said...

Yeah, the State Theatre provided me my only glimpse of Arthur Lee and Love and first glimpses of Van der Graaf Generator and Os Mutantes, as well as opportunities of reacquainting myself with the great Blue Oyster Cult. They didn't do it often, but they occasionally provided some of the best shows of the year. Seems a whole lot less as you say, but X is a great get.