Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Superchunk / Waxahatchee / Ex Hex at the North Carolina Museum of Art - 8/12/2017

With Waxahatchee and Ex Hex
North Carolina Museum of Art

I go from having never seen a show at the North Carolina Museum of Art to seeing two in two weeks...not only that, but two of my all-time favorite bands.  Life is weird like that sometimes. 

Superchunk might be on my Mount Rushmore, but the band I was most excited about was openers Ex Hex.  I've seen them a few times, but it had been a little while because apparently Mary Timony had been focusing most her time on the Helium reissues and reunion shows.  In that time my love of their album "Rips" has only grown stronger - for my money, the best power pop record of the last decade at least.  Just like every other time I've seen Ex Hex, they did not disappoint - their short set was a mix of most of "Rips" plus a couple of new tracks which leaves me hopeful that their sophomore effort will be along shortly.  It's rare I give a shit about the playing prowess of a guitarist, but Mary is just so talented and fun to watch that in her case it's worth a mention - she is completely mesmerizing.  On top of that, their set also featured both a drum solo and a bass solo (complete with hammer-ons!) that was totally awesome and not annoying/indulgent like these things usually are.  Everyone pray to the god of your choice that there is a new Ex Hex record in the near future, along with a tour to support it.  I need this.  The world needs this. 

You ever have one of those bands that you think you'll probably like, but you just need to spend more time listening to their music?  Waxahatchee is one of those bands for me.  It's unclear to me if Waxahatchee is technically just frontwoman Katie Crutchfield and the rest are hired guns, or if it's an actual band, but either way her sister Allison (formerly of the amazing Swearin') is now playing with her.  This information has no bearing on anything except to give me an opportunity to remind everyone that they should be listening to Swearin'.  Anyways, here is my half-assed review of a band I know nothing about...the five-piece was all female, and was wearing matching suits - except for Katie, who had this flowing white dress thing that would have looked right at home on the stage of the Grand Ol' Opry in 1975.  From a technical angle, the whole lot of them was damn talented.  Their upbeat songs, which was at least 2/3rds of their set - I was feeling it.  Not entirely sure what to compare it to though, which drives me crazy - maybe a little bit like Jenny Lewis? That's probably a fairly shit comparison but my music review OCD requires a comparison to something.  The mellow songs I could have done without...they made me think of Lillith Fair, which makes me think of Sarah McLachlan, which makes me think of sad puppies and kitties, and I hate thinking about sad animals.  At the end of their set I felt the same as at the start - I need to spend more time listening to their music.

I'm not going to spend a lot of time on Superchunk - I've written about the group so many times before, likely more than any other band by a long shot.  Their shows are always kinda the same - they play a ton of songs I love, Mac jumps around a lot, Jon and Jim make the occasional witty quip, and I enjoy the hell out of myself - it's why I keep going back again and again.  Here are my few notes that were, um, noteworthy: there was a lot of political talk from Mac, which isn't surprising given the current climate.  They thanked pretty much every town in the Triangle sans Cary - probably an intentional omission, but shitting on Cary is just what the Triangle does.  Jon specifically noted he wanted to thank Fuquay, but not Varina.  Given the show was outdoors and all ages, there were a number of kids there, and specifically there was a 5-6 year old boy in the very front air drumming along with the songs that delighted me to no end.  Given the impending remastered re-release of their first self-titled record, they played a bunch of songs off that one.  Finally, and most importantly, the encore was two of my very favorite jams of all time: "Cast Iron" and "Detroit Has a Skyline." 

I enjoyed the hell out of myself.  I look forward to seeing them again and again. 

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