Sometimes when you go to a rock show, you're going to see the headliner and you hope the opening acts are okay. Occasionally you hit the jackpot and all three are great. The latter was the case in late October when I made my way to Great Scott on a Thursday night to see Ex Hex, Speedy Ortiz and Pile. I hadn't seen Speedy before, but I was also looking forward to seeing Ex Hex again (saw them open for Rocket from the Crypt in April) and Pile (who I saw opening for Obits a year earlier).
Pile played a strong opening set, including a few new songs. Their last album, dripping, came out in 2012, so hopefully a new full-length is coming out in the not-too-distant future. Led by singer-guitarist Rick Maguire, Pile is yet another of an incredible stable of excellent bands on the Exploding in Sound label. The Boston band specializes in slow building, pummeling rockers and they put on a punishing live show. Definitely a band to watch.
Here's where the surprise of the night took place for me. The show had been billed as Ex Hex headlining with Speedy Ortiz as second on the bill, but Maguire announced that Ex Hex was coming up next and I thought he was joking. Turns out he wasn't. Which is fine, but I had just purchased a ticket to one of the shows in Speedy's upcoming residency at Great Scott in December, so I was looking forward to a longer set from Ex Hex. But Mary Timony's power trio came out and cranked through a 40+ minute set that included pretty much the band's entire new album Rips (which certainly does) and a cover of the Boston punk classic "All Kindsa Girls" by the Real Kids. Timony's clearly having a blast playing '70s and '80s inspired riff rock, and she's got able co-conspirators in bassist Betsy Wright and drummer Laura Harris. The band just kicks ass all over the place; I could've watched them play for another hour (or more).
The show was sold out and the place was jammed and rockin' for Ex Hex, but curiously, a bunch of people left after Ex Hex's set. It may have been because of the switcheroo or the fact it was getting late on a Thursday night, but honestly, those are both lame reasons to leave. Speedy Ortiz is an excellent band and I for one was looking forward to the rock. Fronter Sadie Dupuis was wearing a long pink wig that she called her Nicki Minaj look (she even spit a few Minaj verses); she threw it off about halfway through the 45-minute set. The band mainly played songs from their debut Major Arcana, but also debuted a few new songs. Speedy's relentless touring schedule has resulted in a tight sounding combo; guitarist Devin McKnight from Grass is Green joined the band in May after Matt Robidoux left and he meshes well with the group. It was an enjoyable set, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do in December.