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The Ex-Hex

Saturday night was time for some big names to drop by for an all-ages extravaganza at the Olympic Plaza. The headliners were post-hardcore legends Drive Like Jehu and godfathers of post-punk movement Television.  I was more interested in the openers though.

If what you are doing is perfect, why reinvent the wheel? That must be the thinking process behind the DC based garage pop trio The Ex Hex. Lead by Mary Timony (guitarist/singer), the band’s material from the debut Rip was stripped down, abrasive and all around exciting.  The carefree energy of the songs was the ideal match for their late afternoon set as the sun was loosening up its glare and cooling the breeze.  They were the quintessential example that all you need for a dance party are three chords and a pulse.

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Some bands are better experienced live. You could chalk up King Tuff in that category. Kyle Thomas, the human behind the name, has enjoyed critical love for the act’s previous works. Yet, his serving of rock’n roll seemed derivative and nothing marvelous. The live showing is a different story. With help from buddies Magic Jake (bass) and Garret (drums), Thomas delivered the psychedelic rock goods to keep the head-bangers busy. There was the right amount of guitar solos and explosive drums. It was glorious rock’n roll without the inflated egos and unnecessary pompousness, akin to the general theme of Sled Island.

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There is a fine line between awkward and funny awkward. Matt Flegel is the master of that line. The frontman for Viet Cong, fresh faces of post-punk movement, offers the right amount of comic relief to offset the brooding nature of the material.  Aside from the odd smirks, other antics included dedicating a song to a deer he killed while driving from Saskatoon Jazz Fest with the band. Fret not, the humour didn’t take away from the cathartic experience. There is a certain visceral essence to their live setting that is unmatched. Calgary, we thank you.