Ex Hex | Scala | 2 November 2015
There are two types of new bands: those that imitate and those that assimilate. Ex Hex are definitely the latter: like all the best before them, the trio have processed their influences into a sound and identity all their own.
So their debut album, ‘Rips’, puts a unique spin on the power-pop formula. Clocking in at just 35 minutes, and relying on nothing more than guitar, bass, and drums, the focus is on the punchy songs themselves. There’s little time for rock star posing or musical heroics. And so it is on the Scala stage tonight.
The emphasis is on recreating the fun of colourful songs like set opener ‘Don’t Wanna Lose’ and pounding ‘New Kid’, with lead singer Mary Timony’s focused ‘Hot and Cold’ guitar solo and bassist Betsy Wright’s high kicks providing the only real show-off moments.
Although they make it all seem so effortless, Ex Hex are very clearly a tight-knit unit. When Timony’s not behind the microphone putting her heart into lines like “So put your war paint on and dance alone in the crowd”, she and Wright spend much of the relentless set together at centre stage. In front of Laura Harris’ drum kit, the musicians play off each other, sharing a combined energy that, in turn, fuels the pogoing crowd.
The crowd have every reason to be amped: they’re getting to see and hear the entirety of ‘Rips’ — from the gut-punching ‘Beast’ to Wright’s effervescent ‘Radio On’ — play out before them. There’s even a brief detour as the Washington DC warriors reinvigorate The Real Kids’ all-American classic ‘All Kindsa Girls’, giving Wright another opportunity to play her bass like a lead guitar and the fans upfront to lose their minds once more.
And the thrills don’t stop until an incendiary ‘Waterfall’ ends the night on such a high that its lyrics, “I want to show you my affection but you’re on the floor”, almost come true. Someone in the crowd must surely have been close to collapsing.