Mary Timony, Medications and La CercaSolar Culture, Saturday, June 11
Mary Timony, formerly of Helium, has been doing the solo thing for a while now, but her new record, Ex Hex, is even more like Helium than her previous two solo records. Ex Hex was produced by Fugazi's Brendan Canty and released on Lookout, and subsequently, it's loud, guitar-heavy rock. For her tour, Timony is joined by drummer Devin Ocampo on stage, and the show was a battle of the louds: Timony's guitar, plugged into a massive Marshall stack, growled and screamed against Ocampo's thumping drums, and usually won. Timony is a fascinating guitar player to watch--it's not that she is the most technically able guitar player (she started out her set with "Musik and Charming Melodee," from her last record, Golden Dove, and missed a couple notes here and there), but that she can conjure such sounds and melodies from the thing while shaking her hair and stomping and competing with Ocampo's overly pummeled drum kit.
Each of Timony's songs roams all over the guitar neck and shifts suddenly between rhythms and parts. Her vocals, against her guitar work, pale in comparison: She has a subtle and unremarkable voice that doesn't call too much attention to itself and allows more focus on the actual music. With just guitar and drums, it was energetic and excellent (save the excessive drumming), but Timony's songs would only benefit from a fleshed-out band. Brendan Canty played bass with Timony and Ocampo for a few shows on a tour earlier this year; we in Tucson can only imagine what those shows would have been like. And drool.
Tucson's own La Cerca opened the show; although we missed their set, we heard from singer/guitarist Andrew Gardner that it went well. D.C.'s Medications, fronted by Devin Ocampo (who also played drums in Smart Went Crazy), played the middle slot. With drums, bass and Ocampo singing and playing guitar, they sounded slightly like D.C.'s now-defunct The Dismemberment Plan--fast and tight opposing melodies on bass, guitar and vocals. Their set was so loud, though, that plugging one's ears was necessary to avoid profound deafness. "We know we're loud," Ocampo said to the crowd; it seems they're one of those bands that likes to leave your ears ringing on purpose.
Mary Timony and Ocampo took the stage last and rolled, less-loudly, through several songs on Ex Hex, even playing an encore after much begging from the crowd at Solar Culture.