Ontario punks Zex swagger through Chicago on their biggest U.S. tour yet | Bleader

Ontario punks Zex swagger through Chicago on their biggest U.S. tour yet


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  • Photo by C.T.
  • Zex

When I wrote about the new Raydios single in April, I called their front man's old group Teengenerate "the best punk band in the world." To mitigate the boldness of that statement, I qualified it: "I'm not referring to 'punk' in the 'bondage pants and great big pointy haircuts' sense," I said, "but rather to an in-the-red descendent of undomesticated 60s garage rock."

I hope that by devising a dismissive epithet about haircuts I didn't make myself sound like a person who doesn't sometimes really dig that kind of punk. Case in point: Zex, a young band from Ottawa, Ontario, who juice up their bristling, glammy, go-for-broke tunes with an addictive mix of swaggery guitar flourishes, chewed-up solos, frisky bass lines, and poppy melodies that owe as much to Joan Jett and NWOBHM as they do to punk (front woman Gretchen Steel can sing more than three different notes). Every now and then there are even hand claps!

On Tuesday, June 9, Zex headline a show at an underground venue in Pilsen toward the end of a five-week U.S. tour. It's one of several spaces in the neighborhood I haven't been to yet, so I don't know what it's like, but it'll have a hard time competing with some of the places Zex have already played. In a recent interview, guitarist Jo Capitalcide brought up the band's Asian tour: "While in Indonesia, we played at a big outdoor market in a rainstorm and all simultaneously got shocked."

Zex's debut album, Fight for Yourself, came out in October. A new single called "Fear No Man" is due any day now—they ought to have copies of it at the show.

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