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Coachella 2009 Day 3: X brings L.A. asphalt to Indio grass

April 19, 2009 |  8:13 pm


"Here's a song for those who are going to be drinking tonight, or those who are drinking right now," said John Doe of the old-guard L.A. punk band X. Singer Exene Cervenka then shushed him: "Wait, everybody's smoking weed. Forget drinking!"

It's no news for a band to laud booze and pot onstage, but when you can follow it up with a song like "The Have Nots," it's a bit more resonant. Second to Macca on Friday, it's hard to imagine a band with a warmer reception than the quartet, who despite having aged gracefully into bowling shirts and dad sunglasses, still play with the dreamy frayed nerves of an unending east Hollywood hangover. 

As we noted earlier, punk's comeback is one of this year's most welcome trends, and X more than held up its end of the historical continuum during its Mojave tent set. Cervenka's sad-eyed banshee harmonies are as much a part of SoCal hagiography as are palm trees and errant starlets, and Doe cuts an ever more dashing visage each year he's behind his bass. Guitarist Billy Zoom and drummer DJ Bonebrake are as nimble as ever, and it's part of anyone's L.A. education to spend some time with "Johnny Hit & Run Pauline" before you can call the town your own. Punk is back, though it never left, and in the right hands it's still a revelation.

-- August Brown

Photo of Exene Cervenka by Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times