The band “X'” in St. Pete: retro punk, rockabilly, and plenty of memories


By Chyrisse Tabone, Rock At Night Tampa

Exene Cervenka

Punk nostalgia was in the air in St. Petersburg over the weekend as The Damned performed at the State Theatre on Saturday night and X performed on Sunday night. In these trying and politically mercurial times a little punk attitude and nostalgia is what the doctor ordered.

LA punk pioneers X are on tour celebrating 40 years of stirring the pot! The 40th Year Anniversary tour, comprised of original members Exene Cervenka (vocals), John Doe (bass/vocals), Billy Zoom (guitar/sax), and DJ Bonebrake (drums), are on an excursion which embarked in Albuquerque, New Mexico on May 1st and will end in Dallas on May 25th.  Subsequent tours will follow in July through the Fall which will take the band throughout North America, including a quick jaunt to Montreal at the end of July.

DJ Bonebrake

Sunday evening at the State Theatre was standing room only for the room of 50- or 60-something folks who hoped to relive their youth.  Maybe the folks were a little bit paunchy and grayer but the fire of rebellion was in their heart.  Those that listened to X likely owned a copy of the vinyl album Los Angeles or Wild Gift alongside other favorites like Blondie or The Cramps, who cavorted with X during that period.

As we arrived Rosie Flores, an alt-country singer/guitarist was on the stage with a fiddle player. She warmed up the crowd with a little Americana music and chatted in-between songs about how she knew X from playing on the strip during the day. They have remained friends for years.

Finally, Exene came out on stage wearing a little skirt with an X anniversary t-shirt (1977-2017) and cowboy boots.  John Doe, who was actually her husband in the mid-eighties, stood to her right and manned the bass.  Billy Zoom sat comfortably in a chair on the left side of the stage while drummer DJ Bonebrake straddled the drum throne.  The band started off the set with some energetic numbers and many in the audience mouthed the words.

Billy Zoom

As the concert progressed, the band switched gears into a rockabilly mode.  As the band progressed through the years the band delved into their country roots and took a detour from their distinct garage band or punk-tinged music.

At one point during the concert DJ Bonebroke switched from drums to the xylophone during “True Love” and Billy Zoom alternated between a sax and guitar. Exene clutched the standing microphone and twirled every once in awhile, shaking hands with audience members from time to time.

The venue opened up the balcony level which quickly filled with concert goers as the concert went on.  Honestly, the place was packed!

During the concert Exene mentioned how the band spent some time near the beach and had a nice Mother’s Day. Exene has a son by former husband actor Viggo Mortensen, whom she met on the set of the film Salvation in 1986.

Overall, the crowd seemed to be very satisfied with the concert and there was a line at the merch table. People were eager to pick up the anniversary t-shirts and keep the fire burning.  If you have the opportunity to catch X during their tour, put on your black shirt, funky shoes, and smoky eye liner and head on out!

Set List

Beyond and Back
In This House That I Call Home
We’re Desperate
The Once Over Twice
The Have Nots
True Love
The World’s A Mess; It’s In My Kiss
The Unheard Music
I Must Not Think Bad Thoughts
Year 1
Los Angeles
Your Phone’s Off The Hook, But You’re Not
Johnny Hit and Run Paulene
Motel Room In My Bed
Soul Kitchen

Adult Books
Devil Doll

Photo Gallery




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Chyrisse Tabone, Ph.D.
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