Live (RETRO): KING’S X @ Saratoga Winners, 9/27/89
KING’S X are one of the mightiest “should’ve been bigger” bands of all time – a band who were truly never anywhere near as big as they should have been (or, rather, should be). The band’s 1988 debut album, ‘Out of the Silent Planet’, was a breath of fresh air in a heavy rock scene overrun by innocuous hairspray, mascara, and spandex-slathered pop-metal, or stomping thrash metal bands, the best of which were killer, the rest of which were derivative and repetitive. King’s X mixed hefty, downtuned guitars, soaring, Beatles-esque vocal harmonies and astounding musicianship in a way that the rank-and-file hard rock of the day wasn’t. A truly unique band.
This gig was in support of their tremendous second record, ‘Gretchen Goes To Nebraska’, considered by many to be their greatest. There was a good-sized crowd – again, not a band who had any hits, but at the time they were getting healthy radio play on local college radio like WCDB and WVCR, and the always-ahead-of-the-curve WEQX, so there was a buzz on this band.
The great SoCal stoner heavies Masters of Reality, then promoting their excellent Geffen Records debut, were supposed to open, but cancelled for some reason, so the opening band were KX’s fellow Texans Galactic Cowboys. The Cowboys were then brand-new and still almost two years away from releasing their killer first album, but they made a great impression. This band was somewhat in the King’s X tradition, with vocal harmonies and heavy guitars, but mixed the melody with a more thrash metal approach. They started releasing records like their self-titled debut and ‘Space in Your Face’ on Geffen Records a couple years later, and the excellence was undeniable, although, like KX, mass success did not follow (although a Saratoga Winners 1992 headline show did).
The KX show was fantastic, one of those shows of legend – a long gig, they played almost all of their first two albums, opening with “King”, closing with “Visions”, and a long encore jam of “The Burning Down” wrapped it up, which was supernatural in its greatness. Afterwards we hung with singer Doug Pinnick, who told many great Megaforce Records (their then-label)-related tales of touring with Anthrax, crazy stories about Ministry, etc. I recorded the interview and I think we broadcast some of it on our WCDB metal show, but damned if I can find the tape.
This was KX’s first Albany-area gig, they played locally again less than two months later at the short-lived Clifton Park Arena, opening for Billy Squier and Blue Murder, and they played the Nippertown region pretty much every tour until the early 2000s (except for in 1991 on ‘Faith Hope Love’, when they cancelled a Winners gig at the last moment due to flu). I think the last show was a woefully-underattended early 00’s show at Northern Lights, and they have never played the Albany area again.
Someone needs to bring this band back, when the plague is gone. All hail KING’S X.
The setlist was:
What Is This?
Out of the Silent Planet
Fall on Me
Power of Love
Send a Message
I’ll Never Be the Same
Shot of Love
Everybody Knows a Little Bit of Something
Over My Head
The Burning Down.