Ex Hex walked through the crowd at the Hare & Hounds, making their way to the stage, in what seemed like a perversion of natural law. This is, clearly, a band that make stadium-sized music, and their sound is derived from The Cars, Blondie, Joan Jett and The Pretenders (and even a little Bryan Adams?) So to see them shuffle past a largely male, largely middle-aged crowd to get to the stage was darkly comical. It’s almost as though they don’t belong there.
The songs they have filled the set with on this tour have been were evenly balanced between their two studio LPs – in fact, seven songs were selected from each of them. Their songs, already uproarious in their studio iterations, were absolutely incredible in the live setting.
The trio (expanded to a foursome for live shows) sprinted through fourteen tracks in just over an hour, using up the highlights of both albums, starting with You Fell Apart. Mary Timony (of Wild Flag), and Betsy Harris took their guitar duties deadly seriously, with plenty of riffs, solos and shredding… Why more people weren’t wearing Spandex and Scorpions shirts is a riddle we’ll likely never solve.
Drummer Laura Harris and live bassist David Christian were relegated to bit-part roles, although Christian was playing an absolutely gorgeous pink Fender. Harris stepped up for lead vocal duties on Radiate, one of the many highlights of the set that included live-wire takes of Beast, Don’t Wanna Lose, Diamond Drive and Cosmic Cave.
Their best songs – Radio On and Hot And Cold – closed out the set. It was an all-too-brief look back at the golden age of rock music (the early 80s), when the riffs were hot and the hooks were huge. Ex Hex, for one night at least, proved that there is much more life left in the genre than most folks would think, and that pop music in 2019 might be the direst ever made in the history of Planet Earth. More riffs please!