X with Blondie

Sept. 11 • PNC Pavilion (Riverbend)

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Legendary Rock group X coalesced in 1977 and quickly became one of the most beloved and influential Punk bands on the burgeoning Los Angeles circuit. The quartet — lean and smoldering bassist/vocalist John Doe, his thrift store chic poetess girlfriend Exene Cervenka singing lead, blisteringly cool guitarist Billy Zoom and baby-faced hammer D.J. Bonebrake on drums — had little in common with the street urchin Punks that populated the British and New York scenes, other than a propensity to play with speed and power. 

X was more than happy to let their Rockabilly roots bleed through their Punk/New Wave veneer, and when they hit the studio to document their sound on their first full-length, rather than teaming up with a trendy, spiky haired genre producer, the band tapped former Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek, who had become a fan. Scenesters questioned the choice but Manzarek coaxed brilliant studio performances out of the band, placing their first three albums — 1980’s Los Angeles, 1981’s Wild Gift and 1982’s Under the Big Black Sun — among the decade’s acknowledged best contributions.

With 1983’s More Fun in the New World, also produced by Manzarek, X veered closer to a polished Rockabilly sound, although they fully explored their Folk roots in their Knitters side project. Zoom departed after Ain’t Love Grand failed to raise their commercial profile, and neither the fabulous documentary X: The Unheard Music, 1987’s See How We Are or 1988’s Live at the Whisky a Go-Go fared much better and the band went on hiatus until 1993’s Hey Zeus!, the band’s last original studio album. 

In the subsequent two decades, X has done an anthology, an acoustic live album and various stray tracks, while playing regular festival gigs and working around Doe and Cervenka’s fascinating solo music and acting careers. Rhino just released The X Collection, a digital compilation of the band’s first six albums, and their No Principals Tour — their first live circuit with Blondie — is one of the most hotly anticipated packages of the fall.

X plays Wednesday, Sept. 11 with Blondie at Riverbend's PNC Pavilion in Anderson Township. Buy tickets, check out performance times and get venue details here .

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