When the "As the World Burns" tour was first announced, I nearly wet my pants. X and the Rollins Band sharing a single bill? Forget about it! That lineup is utterly bulletproof! With that, you can understand my prompt, joy-induced blackout when I found out that they would be playing less than 4 miles from my boring suburban home in the very unlikely town of Agoura Hills. I have been to the Canyon Club quite a few times, mainly due to its locality and lack of a barrier between the stage and the audience. I had previously seen Bad Religion, Dave Chappelle, and X twice at the Canyon, so getting to the show was no problem (unlike many shows in Los Angeles). I arrived at about 5 P.M. on July 30th to conduct short interviews with John Doe and Exene, but you can read about that later.
Anyway, the opening slot on this tour is occupied by the Riverboat Gamblers from Austin, Texas -- a band that, up until now, I had known absolutely nothing about. They proceeded to start the night off with a bang! Their music reminds me of a tight mix between Funhouse-era Stooges and early Ramones, featuring a wild frontman who spent 90% of the show off-stage, out on the dance floor and in the dining areas. At this early point in the show, the venue was relatively empty and uninterested...which made the show all the better since the Gamblers played their asses off regardless. Their singer frequently jumped onto occupied dinner tables/chairs and basically sang his ass off. This is one energetic band, I'm gonna have to check them out.
Anyway, their set lasted about 30 minutes and soon Henry Rollins' road crew (which consists of only two people that I could see, one of them I know of as 'Road Manager Mike') was prepping the stage for the newly reunited Weight-era Rollins Band. At about 9 P.M. Sim Cain, Chris Haskett, Melvin Gibbs, and Henry Rollins quickly burst onto the stage and went on to deliver the best show I've ever seen from the Rollins Band (and that's quite a feat to accomplish, given this band has never faultered). They opened with "On My Way to the Cage" and went on to play mostly a mix of Weight / Come in & Burn with a few songs from Lifetime, Hot Animal Machine and End of Silence thrown in. Songs included "Low Self Opinion," "Starve," "Black & White," "Burned Beyond Recognition," "Volume 4," "Civilized," "Icon," "All I Want," "You Didn't Need," "Divine Object of Hatred" and, surprisingly, "Liar" (I read somewhere that Henry said he would never play that song again) and that was a very nice surprise as, regardless of its popularity, I have always liked that song. Henry's vocals were excellent, very raw and angry and much in the vein of somwhere between End of Silence and Weight, even bordering on Hard Volume harsh intensity levels at times. This guy really knows how to give it all; his performance was intensely physical and these days he seems to somewhat resemble Bruce Lee in physique. But, of course, Henry is only 1/4 of a 4-part perfect combo. Melvin's bass playing was, as always, funky and mind blowing, as was Haskett's classic funk-infused guitar playing. Sim Cain had his chance to shine with an amazing drum solo at the end of "Starve" (it must be noted that these guys all have some serious musical background -- Sim was in Greg Ginn's amazing "Gone," for example). After closing with "Liar," Rollins generously shook all of the front audience's hands and left the stage, leaving the night set for the headliners -- the legendary X.
I had seen X here twice before and both times they were great, so I had no worries about tonights performance. Also, I think it's important to add that I was told that they no longer even have to rehearse -- the band is THAT good. Billy Zoom, John Doe, Bonebrake, and Exene all took the stage and the audience went absolutely nuts. They opened with "Your Phone's Off the Hook But You're Not" from the classic Los Angeles record and went on to play a very long set consisting of classics such as "Devil Doll," "Los Angeles," "Johnny Hit & Run Pauline," "We're Desperate," and, to my delight, the previously absent love ballad "Adult Books." Their set was amazing and everybody in the band seemed relaxed and having a good time. The fact that my knees were being literally crushed into the stage by the surging audience behind me only added to the intensity of the experience. An amazing performance by one of the greatest rock'n'roll bands of all time.
This will be a night I rememeber the rest of my days; all the bands destroyed and left their audience begging for more. You'd be an utter fool to pass up a chance to see this tour when it comes blowing through your town.