Rough Trade East – 9th February | Photo by Eleonora Collini
Six or seven tracks, minimal movement, some lacklustre between-song banter: isn’t that how these early evening, in-store shows are supposed to pan out? Ex Hex obviously didn’t get the memo.
“We’re from Washington D.C., and we’re gonna play some rock music for you,” drawls frontwoman Mary Timony, before the trio hurtle into their set-opener so enthusiastically they have to halt the track and begin again. “We’re just so excited,” she laughs by way of apology, and a robust rendition of ‘Don’t Wanna Lose’ follows.
Ex-Helium, Autoclave and Wild Flag, and now lead guitarist and singer in Ex Hex, Timony possesses precisely the amount of effortless stage presence you’d expect from a musician with more than two decades of band experience. Relaxed and smiling, she loosens up the rain-dampened audience with an irresistible mix of deadpan humour and muscular riffs. Dedicating the glammy thrash of ‘Beast’ to “all the beasts in the audience”, she enquires, “Are there any? Well, I’m a beast and I think these guys are too.”
As a musical unit, they’re certainly incredibly tight, and their on-stage interactions reveal a great deal of mutual affection and respect. Timony frequently strides over to solo up-close to Betsy Wright, who reciprocates by playing her bass guitar above her head, reclining backwards. Meanwhile, Laura Harris is all-but a blur of blonde hair, frenetically pummelling at the drum kit. It’s this combination of innate musicianship and irrepressible raw energy that makes them such a thrill to watch live. Or, to put it bluntly, they fucking rock.
Songs from Rips are taken to another level this evening, aided by Timony’s virtuosic guitar-playing. There’s the blistering punk of ‘New Kid’ – fuelled by nimble-fingered runs – the intricate arpeggios and chunky riffs of ‘Outro’, and some excellent, feedback-drenched shredding on ‘Hot And Cold’. Having despatched every track on their debut in a little over half an hour, they retreat from the stage. This, ladies and gentlemen, is how you do an in-store.
Buy: Ex Hex – Rips