X w/ Rosie Flores – the Masquerade Atlanta – May 16, 2017 X w/ Rosie Flores – the Masquerade Atlanta – May 16, 2017

Pictures and Words by David Brendan Hall

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Know any of those people who love spouting that line, “Punk rock is dead”? X’s Tuesday night performance at the Masquerade in Atlanta – a stop toward the tail-end of the first leg of the influential L.A. band’s lengthy 40th (!) anniversary tour – was an answer to those naysayers: Punk rock lives, strongest of all in the spirits of its seminal players.

With all four original members – bassist John Doe, vocalist Exene Cervenka, drummer D.J. Bonebrake and guitarist Billy Zoom – playing as vibrantly as they did within their 75 minutes on stage, there was no argument for anything other than enduring authenticity. Sure, Zoom has slowed down somewhat, but understandably so – he was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2015, went through treatment, and has since reportedly recovered. So, though he was planted on a stool for nearly the entire show, his riffs were still riot-worthy, razor sharp and lightning quick on hardcore-anticipating quick-hits like “I’m Coming Over,” “The Once Over Twice”,” “Year 1” and their raucous, main set-closing cover of the Doors’ “Soul Kitchen.”

For his parts, Bonebrake didn’t miss a beat as he powered through punk, rockabilly and often jazzy jam-outs. Meanwhile, Cervenka’s and Doe’s co-lead vocals sounded just rough enough on the rowdiest tracks, and sublimely smooth when the band brought it down with somber waltz “Come Back to Me,” which featured Zoom’s sultriest sax solos (he let loose again later with some prog-jazz on “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts”). That early-80s-era deep cut was offered in honor of a deceased fan whose friends had requested it.

Reminding how her poetic mind has always imbued her lyrics with as much grace as gruff power, Cervenka delivered the dedication: “Life is both joyous and sorrowful … and that’s why we’re all here, I guess.”

Clearly, the quartet has opted to accentuate the former end of that sentimental spectrum: a kinetic three-song encore – relative rarity “Poor Little Girl,” plus classics “Some Other Time” and “Devil Doll” – capped off the jubilant 24-song run.

So punk is kaput? Certainly not if X is still kickin’ like this, or for that matter, the Damned, who rolled through the same venue on their own 40th anniversary jaunt just days before. The fire underpinning their performances indicated that, more accurately, the genre is just forty years young, and its defiant yet life-affirming ethos – particularly in this socio-politically discordant era – is perhaps more relevant than ever.

Photos of X w/ Rosie Flores – the Masquerade Atlanta – May 16, 2017

X 40th Anniversary Tour 2017 dates:

5/22 – Houston, Texas – Heights Theater

5/23 – San Antonio, Texas – Paper Tiger

5/24 – Austin, Texas – Mohawk

5/25 – Dallas, Texas – The Kessler

7/2 – Oakland, Calif. – Burger Boogaloo – Mosswood Park
8/18 – Solana Beach, Calif. – Belly Up
9/6 – Las Vegas, Nev. – The Brooklyn Bowl
9/8 – Salt Lake City, Utah – The Complex
9/9 – Denver, Colo. – The Summit
9/11 – Omaha, Neb. – The Waiting Room
9/13 – Minneapolis, Minn. – First Ave
9/14 – Milwaukee, Wis. – TBA
9/15 – Chicago, Ill. – TBA
9/16 – Detroit, Mich. – El Club
9/17 – Buffalo, N.Y. – The Town Ballroom
9/19 – Portland, Maine – The Port City Music Hall
9/20 – Boston, Mass. – Brighton Music Hall
9/21 – New York, N.Y. – Stage48
9/22 – Philadelphia, Pa. – Underground Arts
9/23 – Falls Church, Va. – The State Theatre
9/25 – Pittsburgh, Pa. – Rex Theater
9/26 – Kent, Ohio – The Kent Stage
9/27 – Columbus, Ohio – Skully’s Music Diner


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