By DONNA BALANCIA
Nobody can say Exene Cervenka and John Doe haven’t done it their own way over the last 40 years. From punk to rockabilly-country and a lot of genres in between, the two have spent half a lifetime chasing the elusive sound and they’ve traveled the world doing it.
The other night at the Brouwerij West in San Pedro they put on a way different show than what an X fan might expect. Then again, 40 years ago when X was starting out, no one would have expected that museums and arts centers still needed fundraising.
Their show at the Brouwerij West was a benefit for the Palos Verdes Art Center, where Exene has her artwork on display.
The setlist for Exene and John these days is comprised of a range of country ballad-rockabilly fare they’ve cooked up over the years. There’s still the same rapport between John and Exene and together they keep their business rolling and the fans happy.
X, who went largely uncelebrated during their impressive decades-long run of music and punk performances, has been the toast of the town lately. For instance, The Grammy Museum is hosting an exhibit called X: 40 Years of Punk in Los Angeles, the exhibit runs through March of 2018.
The Merch Table
But as reality truly dictates endeavors, after the show — like their millennial counterparts — Exene and John hopped behind a makeshift merch booth and rang up sales.
“It’s the only way to make money,” Exene said. And they sold neck scarves, baseball cards, books and CDs.
The Rapport Between Exene and John
The smile has not faded from Exene’s face despite the knocks her bands have taken over the years. After all, X and Knitters always had a cult following and the fans love them no matter what. At Brouwerij West the other night, fans of The Knitters enjoyed “Poor Little Critter on the Road” and a few other familiar songs.
Others on the setlist were the wistful “In This House That I Call Home,” “Don’t Forget The Motor City,” “I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts,” and “Something to Brag About.”
You ought to be a country or rockabilly fan to appreciate the Exene and John show. The duet is nothing like X and this video gives a good idea of who X really was. You can see the roots of their love of rockabilly.
In honor of their appearance Saturday, we’re posting some X video.
Mike Watt and the Secondmen
Mike Watt and The Secondmen — Watt with organist Pete Mazich and drummer Jerry Trebotic — lit up the stage with their big presence and avant garde style punk. The setlist is long, but they whip through the songs at full bore.
Working Man’s Musician
Watt has the most expressive face in rock and roll and he’s one of the best bassists in the business. If you look up in the dictionary the definition of a working musician, his picture would be there. He doesn’t mess around. He carries his guitar on his back and strolls into the gig, then stays not to greet fans, but instead to help break everything down.
And Watt who makes no bones about his Pedro pedigree made a point of telling us: “The audience was very nice. They’re mostly Long Beach people, but it’s OK I’m not prejudiced, they were pretty nice.”
The band is tight and good-natured and the fans lean on every note.
Feels — otherwise known as three girls and a guy — grab your attention with incredible musicianship and strong performance skills. Frontgal Laena Geronimo is backed by bassist Amy Allen, guitarist Shannon Lay and drummer Michael Rudes and the group has got it going on.
Feels as New Gen Punkers
They entertained a room full of hard core punk fans in supporting Exene and John and Mike Watt and the Secondmen and they pulled it off in grand style.
They’re no novices when it comes to performing — they’ve had a residency at the Echo and they’ve toured the world — but it seems they’re joyful like newbies when they hit the stage. Not to mention that they’re upbeat and fun people to talk to. We look forward to great things from Feels, one of the most underrated bands in Los Angeles.
The surprise of the night was the young band Alinea, who have the presence of professionals who have been at music for a long time. If there’s such a thing as an old soul in the world of music, Alinea has one. They also have some chops having played some top-name venues in Los Angeles and beyond. Stay tuned.
Special mention should be made of the caterer, Thank God It’s Sofia, and the Brouweriji West, which contributed their services to help benefit the PV Arts Center.
Thank God It’s Sofia served sliders, Asian-style noodles, a variety of cheese and crackers with special flat bread pizzas and the food was out of this world, fresh and beautifully served. The Brouwerij West is one of the coolest spots to hang in Los Angeles and we hope for more shows there. The beer is brewed on the premises (obvious by the name) and the selection is robust.
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