Tue May 28 2019
7:00 PM (Doors 5:00 PM)
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X plus Skating Polly
Three decades after the inception of X, one thing is clear: X was not only one of the most influential bands to crash out of the punk movement of the late ‘70s, but the band’s music continues to be sonically groundbreaking today. Songs written during the group’s inception are as relevant and inventive today as they were in 1977.
The fact is, no one sounds like X and no one ever will.
It’s not surprising when you consider the group’s unique beginnings, which can only be attributed to fate. On the same day with nearly the exact same wording, two want-ads appear in a local music rag. One was sent in by a guitarist named Billy Zoom, the other by bassist who called himself John Doe.
Zoom, a rockabilly rebel who’d performed with Gene Vincent, had read a negative review of a band called the Ramones. It said they only played three chords and they played ‘em too fast. So naturally, he went to see them. The show was at the Golden West Ballroom in the L.A. suburb of Norwalk in early ’77, and as soon as the Ramones started to perform, Zoom realized that, musically, he’d found exactly what he wanted to do with his life.
Doe, who was originally from the Baltimore area, was already down with the East Coast CBGB’s scene and by the time the two got in the same room together after responding to each other’s ads, it seemed it was meant to be. They performed a few shows with various drummers before a poet with no ambition of being a singer would enter the picture.
Doe found her in Venice Beach, at a poetry reading. He liked her poems so much he offered to perform them in his band. The poet, Exene Cervenka, had just moved to town from Florida and she told him, no offense, but if anyone was gonna perform her poems, it would be her, and she soon ended up in the band. Zoom was skeptical about someone’s girlfriend being in the band. After they did their first show with Exene, he didn’t know exactly what it was she had, but he knew it was magic.
After a succession of drummers, Doe was at the underground punk club the Masque in Hollywood one night, checking out a band called the Eyes, which featured a pre-Go-Go’s bass player named Charlotte Caffey. He called Zoom immediately and said he’d found their drummer. Doe told him he played with a parade snare and hit it hard as a hammer. Zoom told him to promise him anything. His name was D.J. Bonebrake and he quickly signed on. The band was now complete, and X would soon emerge from the young punk scene as one of its most successful offspring.
The band’s early albums, Los Angeles (1980), produced by Ray Manzarek of the Doors, Wild Gift (1981), and Under the Big Black Sun (1982) explored dark love and an even darker L.A. with the unflinching eye of a Raymond Chandler novel. Doe and Cervenka would marry and later divorce, but they’d always remain soulmates. As they released each ensuing album, More Fun in theNew World(1983) and Ain’t Love Grand (1985), the band continued to grow sonically and politically, fearlessly mixing genres without ever losing its center. As each member went on to explore diverse careers—careers that included acting, art, writing, producing and multiple side projects.”
Skating Polly, a sister duo from Oklahoma made up of Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse, formed in 2009 after a jam session at the girls’ Halloween party. Their sophomore album, Lost Wonderfuls, was produced by Exene Cervenka of X and mixed by Kliph Scurlock of The Flaming Lips. Lost Wonderfuls was released in April, 2013. They are now working on their third album, Fuzz Steilacoom, set to be released early 2014. Fuzz Steilacoom was tracked by Calvin Johnson of Beat Happening.
Raised on ‘70s punk and early-‘90s alt-rock, Mayo (age 13) and Bighorse (18) mine inspiration from artists as disparate as Johnny Cash, The Ramones, NWA, Nirvana, and Bikini Kill and saturate their own songs with a raw energy reminiscent of their musical heroes. Skating Polly takes a minimalist approach to songwriting, with the two largely self-taught musicians (Bighorse plays guitar, Mayo plays a guitar/bass hybrid called a basitar, and both girls play drums and piano) crafting super-catchy melodies mainly by “messing around with our instruments and figuring out how to make cool noises,” according to Bighorse. But despite their stripped-down aesthetic, each track on Lost Wonderfuls retains a rich emotionalism that’s at turns brutally in-your-face, gut-wrenchingly tender, and irresistibly fun.
Along with earning the adoration of Cervenka (whom they befriended after attending one of the X singer’s 2010 solo shows and playing their demos on a cell phone), Skating Polly has found fans in Rosanne Cash and Sean Lennon, taken the stage with punk legends like Mike Watt, and opened up for such indie heavy-hitters as Deerhoof and Band of Horses. Tapping Mayo’s dad as their tour manager, the stepsisters typically hit the road with their entire family and optimize their travel time by making up songs on their ukulele.
Both Mayo and Bighorse are intent on ignoring what’s fashionable and staying true to their passion for challenging music with long-lasting appeal. “The musicians we’re most inspired by are the ones who keep on going and going, who devote their entire lives to coming up with new and different stuff,” says Mayo. “A lot of times at our shows people will come up to us and tell us, ‘Keep on doing what you’re doing, don’t ever stop’ and we’re just like, ‘Yeah—we weren’t planning on ever stopping.”
X plus Skating Polly
Tue May 28 2019 7:00 PM
(Doors 5:00 PM)