TONIGHT Ex Hex / BIG AIR / Hospitality @ The Southern, 8pm, $12

July 27th, 2014 · 1 Comment · By


When The Fire Tapes began performing around Charlottesville in 2010, I kept trying to figure out who on earth these people were. Their promo shot made them look like Meatloaf’s back-up band for the Bat Out of Hell II tour (not necessarily a bad thing) and the frontwoman — who was she?

Charlottesville’s cultural scene is a centrifuge–spinning many people and many projects for many years–time being the ultimate guarantor of eventually meeting someone doing interesting things here. So I hoped I would eventually bump into these Fire Tapes people. Sure enough, my buddy Gene began playing some music with Betsy (that intriguing frontwoman) and I began to see her and the rest of the band around town at parties, bars, &c.

One encounter sticks out particularly in my mind. I bumped into Betsy in the Main Street Market parking lot–I was dating someone who worked at ABC and was probably getting a free slice of Princess cake (I’m worth it) and she was just getting off work from Feast, where she worked there as their accountant. “Dude, I’ve never done anything like this,” she asserted, raising one hand (to stop the judgmental notion no doubt sneaking over my face that Betsy Wright might not be a rock star) and (perhaps to further disprove that notion) shifted her stance so one low-cut Chuck Taylor shoe went forward while she also instinctively touching the wayfarers on her face, “My boss is just a nice person who also plays music and offered me the job!”

The exchange showed Betsy’s superpositioning of cool and kind. She could throw the proverbial train track switch either way: deciding to slay an entire audience with her on-stage otherness and musical mastery that encouraged transcendence; or she could just hang, be a super fun friend, conversationalist and–if necessary–a competent accountant.

Since leaving c-ville last year, Betsy has pulled off an impressive coordination of┬ánetworking, timing and fortuitousness to maximize her incredible capacity for performance and musicianship. She is currently part of two groups full-time (many more projects and collaborations I’m sure are a-foot): Ian Sevenius‘s Chain and The Gang (which just finished a European tour) and Mary Timony‘s Ex Hex, both indie darlings of different persuasions. In today’s music environment, Betsy is on the road to success, every bit of which she has worked hard to gain.

Ex Hex is playing tonight at The Southern, fresh from playing Merge 25 last night. The really great BIG AIR joins then (with former Fire Tapes Rob Dobson and current Ha-Rang-er Greg Sloan). I’ve heard Rob and his wife (an actual certified accountant) are headed to LA soon, so you should seize any opportunity to see him play over the next few months. Hospitality (also on Merge Records) rounds out the bill.

I’m unfortunately probably not going to be able to see tonight’s show, but people should definitely, definitely come out and support Besty and Rob (and Greg!). Show starts at 8pm and is $12.



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1 response so far ↓

  • 1 james // Jul 31, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Chain and the Gang is worth seeing under any circumstances, but the current line-up — featuring both Betsy AND Anna Nasty from Hell-Kite / Olivia Neutron-John (both of whom sing back-up vocals) — is even better. I was pretty surprised when I spotted them both in the recent round of “Chain” press pics… but not as surprised as they both were when I showed up to their show in Baltimore and they each simultaneously realized that I a) live in Baltimore now and b) know both of them.