I sincerely doubt that when the band X (John Doe on bass and vocals, Evene Cervenka on vocals, Billy Zoom on guitar, and DJ Bonebrake on drums) began playing together years ago in Los Angeles that they could have imagined that they might be performing to a raucous, sell-out crowd in Seattle in 2012. More likely, they were imagining maybe getting 50 bucks for a gig and keeping themselves in ramen for another week. Yet, against formidable odds, this is what has happened. X, West Coast punk progenitors and the most talented band that came out of the late '70s/early '80s scene, is currently on a 35th Anniversary tour, years past the time when many of their peers broke up, burnt out, changed musical directions, or died. They are still here, still performing with the same energy and drive, still fun as hell. If you were in Seattle and not at the Showbox on May should kick your own ass. Hard.

(artist: David Gallo.

The show opened right on time with Portland's The Suicide Notes, featuring three mod-mini-clad female vocalists backed by a trio of dudes with some solid punk/pop roots. They definitely wore their influences on their sleeves (or bare arms in this case), for I heard snippets of early Go-Go's, the classic girl groups of the 1960s, the Waitresses, the Coney-Island side of the Ramones, and yes, X as well. The ladies did the New Wave dance; you know the one...

...and played originals like "Hey Baby" and "Beach Song" and "Love You To Death" to a receptive audience.

(The Suicide Notes Flickr set)

It didn't take long to clear the stage to get ready for X, and the Showbox crowd packed the floor, giving them an adoring welcome. I just really love this band, I thought, as they ran through great song after song after song. Everything they did was of such high quality: the poetic, dark, intelligent, and sometimes very funny lyrics that led us to into alleys and skanky rental houses and collapsing beauty, the masterful instrumental skills and vocals which chewed up classic '50s rockabilly riffs and howls and spat them out twice as fast and hard, the quirky, passionate performances. X is utterly, completely unique.

The pace of the set didn't let up for a minute and the energy onstage and in the crowd was intense, but generally very happy, with only a few drunken knobheads causing the usual crap at the front, which was quickly resolved. I sang along -- everyone sang along -- to "Year 1," "Los Angeles," "Nausea," "White Girl," "Beyond and Back," "Breathless,"  aaahhh so so so so GOOD!... and these, too, from the bottom half of the setlist that a nice fan offered me after the show. Thank you, Nice Fan.

My friend AJ -- a bear of a man -- kindly stood behind me the entire night, magically blocking me from mosh-ness and such while I took photos, which truly saved the day. Thank you, Nice AJ.

Getting to photograph AND see and hear X again is an honor. As long as they continue to play, I will BE THERE, and so will a whole lot of other fans. Inspiring, they are.

(X Showbox 2012 Flickr set)

P.S.If you have finished kicking your own ass because you weren't there, thanks to Nice Uploader "griffybutt" you can at least see some concert YouTube footage!

X, Showbox Market, Seattle WA, 5/12/12 part one

X, Showbox Market, Seattle WA, 5/12/12 part two

X, Showbox Market, Seattle WA, 5/12/12 part three

Thank you X, the Suicide Notes, the Showbox, Melissa Dragich, and dear friends.