Review: Ex Hex bring gritty glam rock to Birmingham

Words by Sophie Hack.

Paying homage to the glam era of 70s and 80s rock and roll, Ex Hex have the effortless cool persona akin to West Coast rock, despite hailing from Washington D.C. On tour with their third album ‘It’s Real’, the trio brought a clash of surfy, beachy tones, gritty riffs and super charged singles to The Hare and Hounds on Wednesday, May 29.

Nottingham duo Rattle opened for the rock and rollers, entering with a mighty roar of drums. With just percussion and a hum of vocals, the two talented performers (who we’d love to name but its kept off their band profiles) managed to build up such a heavy atmosphere, adding a new syncopated rhythm and heart beat pound with every section. Cymbals rained as bass drums acted like a foreboding tribal ritual, their voices used as instruments to aid the rhythm. The three, elongated songs they performed encircled themselves into a mind bending pattern of multiple drum sets, completely entrancing all those who try to keep up. Rattle are definitely something to be seen, or heard, to be believed, perfect for those who want alternative music that thinks outside the 4/4 box.

Ex Hex were welcomed with a roar of applause, a diverse range of genders, ages and backgrounds (shout out to the zine maker in the Bikini Kill T-Shirt and their fellow zine making friend who chatted to us), its a sight we want to welcome more in our city’s music scene. Their schtick is that they take you back to the glitz of glam rock with Kiss-esque guitar licks, this time empowering rather than voyeuristic. Summer solos glittered in tracks ‘Rainbow Shiner’ and ‘Good Times’ – the latter exuberayting just that. It’s a mix between beachy, Californian guitar chimes and chunkier, almost Southern riffs: an All-American blend that makes for fresh and modern, yet nostalgic rock and roll.

Both Ex Hex and Rattle had their last show in the UK “but not our last show ever… we hoe not anyway” singer Mary Timony declared. ‘Diamond Drive’ and the punkier number ‘I Don’t Wanna Lose’ unapologetically close the show in a chasm of hard rock riffs and charging beats, a powerful ending to their UK tour.

Now on their third album ‘It’s Real’, Ex Hex have gone from strength to strength; honing in on their surefire sound that sprouted in their debut ‘Rips’. Their roster brings the modern music fan, the original queer punks and everyone in between together over what they describe as ‘rock riffage’ – one that we hope comes back to this side of the pond soon.

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