I’m basically a 70’s-raised skater-california-beachy-hippie-valley girl who came of age in a Los Angeles suburb. All around me were empty swimming pools my friends would skate in and some kick ass music coming through the boom boxes we gladly lugged around with us everywhere. I grew up listening to the music my parents and older brother loved at that time: John Denver, Paul Williams, Linda Ronstadt… plus a little classical thrown in the mix. But diving through my parents record collection, I also discovered Harry Belefonte and The Who’s Tommy, the likes of which I had never heard before! My love and education of early 70’s rock was helped along by the older boy next door who would lend me his Steve Miller, Kansas, ELO, and Boston LP’s. I made some epic mix-tapes with these! Who else remembers holding up their cassette player to their speaker to record songs, praying that their mother wouldn’t walk into their room and make noise? (You kids today have it so easy!)
I had already fallen deeply, madly in love with Tom Petty by the time I was 12 (RIP my first true love). But when I hit junior high, I started hearing this other sound: Punk Rock. The Ramones, The Sex Pistols, and The Clash opened me up to another genre and very soon after I started hearing a local punk band in the mix : X. They covered a Doors song I knew, “Soul Kitchen”, and the singer was a chick! The punk scene was exploding in LA: X, The Germs, TSOL, Black Flag, Circle Jerks, The Descendents, Social Distortion… and did you know the early Go-Go’s sound was punk? One of the best local punk bands came out of my high school: Bad Religion. Brett, the lead singer, continued my education in music. His sister was my best friend and he’d give me Black Sabbath, Devo, and T. Rex vinyl to listen to. But X… there was something about this strong female lead, their sharp lyrics, great musicianship with a little rockabilly vibe thrown in, that I loved!
Fast forward to last week, when the Grammy Museum held their opening of “X: 40 Years of Punk in Los Angeles”. A friend was able to score tickets to opening night where bassist John Doe, Drummer DJ Bonebrake, lead singer Exene Cervenka, and guitarist Billy Zoom sat for a Q&A then performed an hour long set on the rooftop! I felt like I was in junior high again, I was so excited to see them!
Once the Q&A was over, I hightailed it to the roof (as any self-respecting photographer/groupie would do) to secure my spot. I thought I’d stay in front for half the show, then take shots from other angles and join my friends – but honestly I couldn’t move. (Well, I was moving, if you can call upper-body-only-fake-slam-dancing a thing. My own personal mosh-pit, if you will.) I was enjoying everything I remembered about seeing X live back in the day, enjoying the songs I didn’t remember, and enjoying the feeling when good live music washes over you, no matter the genre.
Getting to meet the band after was fantastic: a hug and a kiss on the hand (with an “enchante“) from Billy, a hand shake and few words exchanged with Exene and DJ, and a big hug and photo with guitarist John Doe.
The X exhibit runs through March. Because I didn’t want to miss out on the Q&A and performance, I didn’t spend nearly enough time looking at the exhibit, so I might just go back soon for more. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend any music lover to spend a few hours walking through the permeant displays and revolving exhibits at the Grammy Museum downtown at LA Live. Opened in 2008, the 30,000 sq ft space houses more then two dozen permanent exhibits. You might just see me there, going back for more!
Grammy Museum is open M-F: 10:30 – 6:30 and S-S: 10 – 6:30