X, Dum Dum Girls
Saturday, November 3
We've so far focused Kids These Days on classic albums, but when a friend asked if I'd want to help chaperone a trip with my daughter and her friend Emma to see Saturday's X show at the Granada, it seemed an ideal way to get a couple of teenagers' honest opinions on a revered punk act. And it was bound to be more enjoyable than the last time I reviewed a concert with Iris and Emma.
It was a fun show, with an enthusiastic crowd pumping fists and shouting along with the band, who gave a performance that veered between impressively tight and fast-and-loose; three different times, they started into a song only to stop after a bar or two, John Doe gently chiding, "We practiced and practiced and practiced ..." Guitarist Billy Zoom, whose silver hair, goofy faces and Pauly Walnuts-style sportshirt made him look more beloved granddad than dangerous punk rocker, was especially engaging as he effortlessly poured out old-fashioned rock-n-roll leads. Exene Cervenka swayed and danced, commanding attention even when not singing, though some of her between-songs chatter didn't seem to connect, particularly when she urged people to vote third-party. But the songs clearly did connect with the crowd, many of which looked old enough to have been fans since the band's early-'80s heyday.
In fact, they were far more energized than my 15-year-old daughter, who tired and complained of sore feet about halfway through the headliners' set; after about an hour, she'd turn and make an exaggerated sour face at me each time the band started a new song. Nonetheless, she enjoyed the show and said she probably would have even more if we hadn't been there as long as we were and she knew the band better. She contrasted it with seeing St. Vincent and David Byrne, whose collaboration she has listened to incessantly for the past few months; her familiarity with the material is what made those songs feel so meaningful when she saw their show last month.
"I thought they were really good," Iris said. "I like the facial expressions [Zoom] was making and I liked that the singer was doing her own thing. I liked all the songs."
Thirteen-year-old Emma was more enthusiastic. "I really liked it. I thought they were really good, and had a really nice stage presence. Even though it was hard to hear [the vocals] I thought they were really good.
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"I really liked the acoustic song they did [encore "I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts"]. That was one of my favorite songs. I will definitely look them up on the Internet."
But both girls were more enthusiastic about openers Dum Dum Girls, citing their stage presence and that they're an all-female act. (Also, bassist Malia James mentioned onstage that she's from Dallas.)
"They were really majestic-sounding," Iris said. "I like them. They looked really confident. I liked their style. I like garage-sounding bands."
"I really like their sound, the bubblegum pop with electric guitars," Emma said. "I'm definitely going to Google them."