John Doe’s X quits the holiday schtick for its trad punkabilly fare.
  • John Doe’s X quits the holiday schtick for its trad punkabilly fare.
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Past Event

X and the Blasters

  • Sunday, December 8, 2013, 8 p.m.
  • Belly Up, 143 South Cedros Avenue, Solana Beach
  • 21+ / $30 - $53

When you think of Christmas, a concert by L.A. punk band X probably isn’t what comes to mind. Regardless, the band has been performing an annual holiday show in San Diego for several years. How did this strange pairing come about?

“I don’t know. It kind of seemed like an opportunity, and we thought, This will be cool. It would be nice to have some money around Christmastime...what the hell, let’s do this!” X bass player/singer John Doe explains with a laugh.

“The funny thing is, at first we would work up three or four holiday songs, like ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer,’ ‘Santa’s Coming to Town,’ crap like that,” Doe tells the Reader. “We played those for about four or five years, and then, after this [past] year, we got together and said, ‘By the way, has anybody commented on whether they liked or disliked these songs?’ And all the band members said, ‘No. No one has said anything about us doing those songs.’ Nobody said, ‘Oh, I liked your version of ‘Run Run Rudolf’ or ‘That one sucked.’ Nobody said anything about them. ‘So, why the hell are we doing these songs, then? Let’s just not do them.’ So, we didn’t. We just play our regular set and try to throw in some songs we didn’t play the last time.”

This arrangement seems to serve X fans well, as the band’s set lists draw heavily from their classic first four albums. It’s a collection that blurs the lines between punk, country, and rockabilly all under the umbrella of Exene Cervenka’s poetic lyrics — a cocktail that the American record-buying public may not have been ready to absorb in the early ’80s. Doe cites acts such as Elvis Costello, Blondie, and the Pretenders that were able to break through during this era but has his own thoughts on why his band never did.

“We’ll always be a little bit too brash...a little too fast and loud,” Doe says. “X will always have credibility because we are still a lot outside of the mainstream.”

A paradox, perhaps, but one that still lands teenagers with an ear for honest rock and roll front and center at X shows, an experience that resonates with Doe.

“I saw Chuck Berry in ’72, when I still lived in Maryland,” Doe explains, “and he blew my mind. Maybe he wasn’t as great as he was in 1959, but he still blew my mind. I was 18 or 19. Not to say that we’re like Chuck Berry, but if there’s something that has stood the test of time and is a ‘real thing,’ yeah, I think there’s a premium on things that are genuine and not just virtual. That’s where we fall — in the genuine category, and I think we’re all real happy about that.”

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