Photo by James BunoanBILLY ZOOM BAND
GALAXY CONCERT THEATRE, SANTA ANA
FRI., AUG. 5
If the tunes X guitarist Billy Zoom helped create back in the day were the unheard music, the ditties he doled out with his "re-formed" rockabilly band were the really, really, really unheard music. Wearing matching shirts and matching middle-management demeanors, Zoom's quartet trotted out chestnuts from the likes of Buddy Holly, Johnny Burnette, Eddie Cochran (by way of Ray Charles) and Gene Vincent (who Zoom, then known as Ty Kindell, once backed). They did play a couple of songs from the first incarnation of the Billy Zoom Band that disbanded in the mid-'70s: Johnny Carroll's "Crazy Crazy Lovin'," which later popped up on a Weekly sampler, and Zoom's "Bad Boy," which later popped up in a porno film. "This was my very first hit record," the author said by way of introduction. "It was only a hit in Finland." Deadpan? You betcha, but whatever he served he served humbly. It's understandable considering the stakes: a "punk legend" turned niche musician who confided in a recent interview that he'd just like to earn as much playing music as those in his audience do at their day jobs. This is not the Coolest Man in the Room Billy Zoom. Oh, sure, he did stretch those long legs like he does onstage with X, but this was after he set down his Gretsch Silver Jet to play saxophone (!?) for four straight numbers (double !?). And a couple of times he did flash that goofy grin that used to seem natural and now seems manufactured, but there was little time for his usual antics, due to the position of the microphone. For X shows, you find it at about knee level so, in that make-a-wish-stretch position, he can join John Doe in shouting "No!" between Exene's frenzied caterwauling on "Year One." Here the mic stand was extended all the way to Zoom's chin so he could sing (double-quadruple !?), which he did with surprising confidence and competence, although he's not going to make anyone forget Buddy Holly, Johnny Burnette, Eddie Cochran, Ray Charles or Gene Vincent. Which is precisely the point.