Live Review

X, Dead Rock West, Class is Up at City Winery

X @ City Winery (Manhattan, NY, August 1, 2015).
– Photo by Patrick J. Eves

For the past few years, X dialed back their charged up punk, playing more acoustic-style versions of their songs live, but have returned to their punk roots following the departure of founding guitarist Billy Zoom, who is undergoing treatment for bladder cancer. Expected to return on the road by this fall or winter, Jesse Dayton, who has played with Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Wayland Jennings, filled in the spot, learning 28 songs in eight days. Proceeds from the shows will go to Zoom’s hospitalization.

There was wining, dining—and the Everly Brothers—as the Los Angeles punks kicked off a three-night residency at New York’s City Winery, Aug. 1-3. In perfect harmony, Cindy Wasserman—sometimes John Doe or Exene Cervenka bandmate—coupled with Frank Drennen as Dead Rock West, charged the audience with a little Americana from the band’s three studio albums, including their most recent, It’s Everly Time!, a tribute to the steel string-playing, brothers in harmony—adding Wasserman’s feminine touch to some  of the Brothers’ classics, a la Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong’s Foreverly (a remake of the Everly Brothers’ 1958 second album Songs Our Daddy Taught Us) from 2013.

The duo flashed through songs from their 2007 debut Honey & Salt and follow up Bright Morning Stars, before crooning to the Everly Brothers’ “(Why Am I) Chained To A Memory,” “So Sad (To Watch Good Love Go Bad),” “Gone, Gone, Gone” and “’The Price of Love” before offering new track “Bleeding Blue” and closing on The Staple Singers’ “This May Be the Last Time” with special guests, X, featuring Exene Cervenka, John Doe and drummer DJ Bonebrake, along with Dayton.

Moments later, X returned with a set of nearly two dozen tracks, including a trip back to memory lane with Los Angeles singles, “Los Angeles,” and “Johnny Hit and Run Paulene” and even further back with first single, 1978’s “Adult Books” with “The Hungry Wolf” sealed by a Bonebrakes solo.

Doe gave a shut out to Zoom, who had a bottles of wine in his honor passing around the sold out room. Proceeds from the sale of the wine, a Cabernet Sauvignon chosen by his X bandmates, will also go to Zoom’s treatments. (The venue often works with artists to produce customized wine bottles, using varietals and blends crafted in house at City Winery.)

The band will continue touring through the fall, including stops at the Hopscotch Fest in Raleigh, NC on Sept. 12 and KAABOO Fest in Del Mar, CA on Sept. 19.