Though it was a brief encounter in a night of three, Exene Cervenka’s visit to White Water proved to be a charmingly intimate set. The punk maven is unmistakably confident wielding a guitar. Her whole band was acoustic, without even substantive percussion — where the drum kit normally would have sat, a vase of flowers rested on a trunk like a bedside table.
Exene, under the moniker “The Alien Lord,” introduced her bandmates as “Conquering Lion” on a vintage Carter-family-style Gibson, “Wolf Maiden” on backing vocals, and “Black Scorpion 35” on bass, banjo, and handheld percussion. Like someone’s spunky aunt bedecked in multiple rosaries and a silk apron, she grinned and chatted the whole time, engaging in banter with even the youngest and the drunkest present. Later, she took a moment to thank the crowd saying with a smirk, “Thanks for listening. We really like it when you do that.”
Her set was comprised mostly of her newest album’s material, and it ended with a triad of fraught love songs with titles like “I’ll Admit It Now,” all of which were heartfelt with a wicked tinge of humor.
Exene’s set was followed by the Dexter Romweber Duo (and preceded by Brother Andy and His Big Damn Mouth), with Romweber him-self brutalizing a vintage guitar so rocked-out it looked like it had been dragged behind a truck. Dex and his drummer/sister Sara executed meaty, rough-hewn rockabilly with studied sneers. Sara hung over her drum kit like a spider, her red, shaggy hair hanging down, her demeanor reminiscent of the world’s biggest Cramps fan. Dex peppered in a few instrumental surf numbers, and even covered the old standard “Brazil” to merciless effect.