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Ex Hex Update a Classic Sound at Mercury Lounge

March 24th, 2014

Ex Hex – Mercury Lounge – March 21, 2014

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Ex Hex, the Washington, D.C., band comprised of Mary Timony, Betsy Wright and Laura Harris, describe themselves not as a trio but a power trio—a distinction that proved quite apt based on Friday’s exuberant show at Mercury Lounge. The power comes from many sources: the calculated yet ferocious way they approach their instruments, their energy— complete with many high kicks from bassist Wright—along with the many smiles and smirks that were exchanged as the group ran through their set of punchy, glam- and classic-rock-inflected material, and of course, the serious volume.

For a relatively new group with one EP and a full-length album on the way, the band displayed a real chemistry and joyful attitude while performing, with a subtle sense of mischief that came through as well. While Timony’s vocals have a breathy sweetness to them, the addition of Wright’s and Harris’ backing vocals help lend a more brash, taunting edge on songs like “Waterfall” and “Hot and Cold.”

Ex Hex closed the show with a cover of the ’70s hit “Roxy Roller,” a song that worked nicely with (and may have influenced) the retro swagger of Ex Hex’s own melodies. In that moment, the band could have been transported from some basement rager in a vintage teen movie, the ultracool rockers providing the soundtrack to grainy VHS youthful debauchery. Of course, Ex Hex’s music isn’t simply a successful throwback but a very satisfying and clever revision of some classic sounds and styles, and a fun and appropriately loud live experience. —Alena Kastin