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Preview: Punk Legends X at Blank Club

In Music
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Does X have anything left to prove? The band put L.A. punk on the map with their 1980 album Los Angeles, and went on to basically found the punker-to-folkster Americana crossover moment (that’s bigger than ever today) with their side project the Knitters in 1985. In between, they put out probably the most impressive and groundbreaking body of work of any American punk band.

The musical evolution and experimentation on their first four records—each one is sonically and thematically a completely different, almost stand-alone work—makes it all the more baffling how they put these things out at the rate of one per year. Where did they find the time or will to warp the roots-punk of Los Angeles into the moody hardcore of Wild Gift, then the rock noir of Under the Big Black Sun, and then the all-out political-revolt of More Fun in the New World? (Even their weird follow-up, the epic-sounding but less successful Ain’t Love Grand! contained one of their best songs, “Burning House of Love.”)

The answer has to be their remarkable chemistry and their constant live performances. Besides their shared love of punk music, all of the members bring different talents and obsessions to the table: John Doe is a honkytonk singer in a punk songwriter’s body, Exene Cervenka is a straight up poet, Billy Zoom would have been just as happy playing rockabilly guitar in the ’50s, and D.J. Bonebrake is a drummer who can handle jazz as easily as hardcore.

In the late ’90s, after bringing in some other guitarists to replace Zoom, they were ready to call it quits, but when he came back for a farewell tour it seemed to spark something in them yet again. They gave up on recording as a band, but their live shows are still as powerful as ever. They may not have anything left to prove, but on stage they sure as hell act like they do.

X performs at the Blank Club in San Jose on Tuesday, May 8 at 8pm; $35/$40.

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