Punk legends XBXRX have a reputation for raucous shows, driven by their frenzied stage theatrics that have sometimes left members hospitalized. The group, which is now based in L.A. and performs at Silver Lake Jubilee tomorrow, are quite provocative, donning various uniforms for performances, and sometimes eschewing song titles.
Their name may be intentionally meaningless — “Just trying to keep the focus on the art and the music, and not about us as people,” says guitarist Steve Touchstone — but they're pretty badass. In fact, they've gotten themselves banned from venues about a million times.
During a show in 1998, only a few months after they'd formed in Mobile, Alabama, they dispersed a dozen bags of shredded paper on the crowd and the stage. Lead singer Vice Cooler — who is also Touchstone's older brother — set fire to a cymbal that they'd doused with lighter fluid. Unfortunately, some of the lighter fluid had dripped down, so when the flames spread to the shredded paper the stage was set afire. The angry owner grabbed a fire extinguisher and gave them a cold stare, banning them from the club and alerting nearby venues, who did the same.
XBXRX continued to draw scorn in their hometown. While they were performing at the University of South Alabama, a faculty member left his nearby office and was upset that no one told him they'd be playing. They kept playing, and were again banned. Meanwhile, on a trip to Canada, border agents found fireworks in the band's van, which they deemed explosives. And so, they say, they were banned from Canada for a year.
That wouldn't be the last time. In 2001 they were nixed a day before their show in Sunnyvale, California, which Touchstone says stemmed from rumors about their antics spreading to the city's government, which helped organize shows.
“Someone told them all these evil things about what we did and that we're basically gonna corrupt their children,” he says with a laugh.
In any case, though they haven't been banned recently, they continue to play wild shows. About a year and a half ago, they performed an ear-splitting set at a house party in almost complete darkness, with just a strobe light for illumination. “It just felt like a UFO abduction was happening,” says Touchstone.
XBXRX plays Silver Lake Jubilee tomorrow, May 26 at 4:15 on the Hoover stage