Thursday, December 27, 2012


One of the best shows I've seen this year was X and The Reverend Horton Heat at Irving Plaza last week.  It was an inspired double bill. On one hand, it was totally off the radar; the tour didn't get too much attention in the press.  On the other hand, who gives a s***, people with good taste in music were there. Both bands were incredible.

The Reverend Horton Heat played first so let's start with them.  It's no secret that I'm a huge fan.  Their last album Laughin' And Cryin' was one of my favorites of 2009. I go and see them in concert any chance I get. They have never let me down, and they didn't this time either.

These days they do this funny thing where they start the show by doing one song from each album in chronological order.  I guess it's a good way to make sure they hit every record. They have no bad ones: my favorites are their first two or three and then their latest, but I like them all. Anyway, the Rev is such a killer guitar player, Jimbo is an amazing slap bass player. at one point, they switched instruments for "Johnny B. Goode," and it turns out that the Rev can play bass and Jimbo can wail on guitar.

The band are tight as hell, they're fun, they're funny, but they're not a joke.  I will go and see them each and every time I have the opportunity to do so.  It's interesting that the same night that they played, Dinosaur Jr. played at a different club in town, in a show that got a lot more hype.  I know that a lot of people respect that band, but I could never get into them.  The Reverend Horton Heat is just a lot more fun. And I think the Rev is a better guitar player than J. Mascis.  At the least, he's less self-indulgent.

I've wanted to see X in concert forever, and finally got my chance over the summer, when I saw them at Jay-Z's "Made In America" festival of all places. They pulled a small crowd, but it was a loyal crowd.  Everyone in front of that stage knew what was up: X is the real deal. After all these years, they're still the real deal. Not everyone will get it, and that's just the way it is.  They had the true punk rock ethic: they played to us as if their lives depended on it.

The show at Irving was a different vibe: it was mostly their crowd. They played like their lives depended on it even more than they had at Made In America. "Your Phone's Off The Hook, But You're Not," "Sex And Dying In High Society," "In This House That I Call Home," "We're Desperate," "Adult Books," "Los Angeles" "Nausea," "Johnny Hit And Run Paulene," and their cover of The Doors' "Soul Kitchen" sound as urgent as ever.  I would imagine that when these songs were new, they made 75% of commercially successful rock music sound silly.  Today, its a reminder of how important music should be.  Today, they're a reminder of how great music is supposed to be, how much it should mean.

Actually I was thinking that thought throughout the show, before Exene told us (as if we didn't know) "These aren't just songs, we're not 'entertainers!' Do you ever actually listen to the words? Pull out your cable, throw out your television, don't be 'sheep-le!'"

Another thought I had:  if this was the last rock concert I'd ever see, it would be a good one.  Most people don't know who X is. Most of the hipsters in town were at a show across town (Dinosaur Jr. was playing that night also). But sometimes "the unheard music" is also the best music.

(all photos by Maria Ives)

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