NXNE 2001 at various venues, June 7-9. $18 for a wristband. Rating: NNN
the dearth of marquee acts andpress-anointed next-big-things at NXNE 2001 didn't do much for the advance buzz, but once again the festival throve on surprise. Nobody paid much attention to the geeky dude in the DeGrassi Junior High shirt shuffling around next to rising T-dot rapper Nish Rawks at Lee's Saturday night. Even when Nish queried the crowd to find out if anyone had heard of D-Sisive, the response was negligible. "D-who?"
However, the second D-Sisive stepped forward and tore into his soon-to-be-released joint D-Siggy -- rhyming off Canadian towns like some chunky-lunky hiphop Hank Snow in saggy drawers -- the passive crowd exploded in an arm-waving, rump-shaking frenzy. When he hit the hook, the giant hiphop anthem lights began flashing over head. Yep, this D-sisive fool is gonna massive.
Minneapolis country-rock muchachos Bellwether -- who have more Replacements in them than Jayhawks -- are also on the verge of something big. Every song they knocked out at Ted's Wrecking Yard sounded like a hit, including their twangified take on Prince's B-side classic When You Were Mine.
A riot nearly broke out after they finished, when the money-waving converted discovered Bellwether hadn't brought enough of their self- released CDs to go around.
Things calmed down for buzz boy Matthew Jay, who was visibly unnerved by the idea of strumming for a real live audience. It might've been wise to try out a few of his twee tunes down at the local pub before stepping in front of a crowd of jaded music-biz types.
Philly's Burning Brides had no such trepidation. The hairy power trio, fronted by snarling sequoia-sized singer Dimitri Coats bashing an over-amped Mosrite copy, lived up to their Sabbath Jr. hype. It's easy to see why J Mascis might be willing to arm-wrestle Dave Grohl and Mark Arm over who gets to take the Brides on tour first.
Powerful as the Brides were, there was no topping Eric Royer's one-man band exhibition at Healey's. After a 14-hour drive from Boston and a four-hour customs inspection ordeal -- during which border guards apparently tried to figure out whether his odd-looking "guitar machine" was really a cleverly disguised pipe bomb -- the obviously haggard Beantown busker put on a jaw-dropping display of split-brain finger and toe articulation.
People came to see him manipulate his string-rigged guitar contraption with his bare feet, but it was Royer's skillful claw-hammer banjo-picking that left the bedazzled gathering hollering, "Three more songs" in unison after an hour and two encores. Now, that's entertainment.