The easiest crack to take at the inaugural NX35 bill, even with its list of more than 100 bands, is that the bulk of the bands seem to come from the region. Perhaps, as "Music Conferette" organizer Chris Flemmons explains ("Northern Exposure," page 63), it's simply a testament to the talents of the region. But will people turn out—and, more importantly, pay the $65 necessary to acquire an all-access wristband for the four-day event—to see a host of acts they can catch on a fairly regular basis around the region? Tough to say.
Thankfully, NX35 isn't strictly composed of locals. And among these non-locals there are some interesting acts participating—some well-known (like James McMurtry) and some, well, not so much (like Electric Toy Danger). So, to help sift through these out-of-towners, we asked Flemmons, who had a hand in bringing them all to town, to expand on some of the touring acts he's most excited about.
Who: Possessed by Paul James (Kerrville)
Genre: Hillbilly stomp
When: Saturday night at Rubber Gloves Rehearsal Studios (with The Theatre Fire, New Science Projects, Delmore Pilcrow)
Flemmons' take: "He totally exists in that low-brow hillbilly South blues stuff. But it totally transcends that. The audience being as narrow as it is for that stuff, it needs to be heard by the people. That's the reason why I put him with The Theater Fire... I watched him in a room with five people and was just blown away. The songs just transcend anything that's pedestrian—or even just rural music. They're really forward-thinking, y'know? The guy goes out on tour with Scott Biram and Bob Log, but what he's doing is completely different."
Who: The Low Anthem (Providence, Rhode Island)
When: Saturday night at Banter (with The Angelus, Nervous Curtains, Parata)
Flemmons' take: "I don't know how to describe them. It's Americana, but it's not. It's got some Tom Waits stuff going on with what they're doing."
Who: Electric Toy Danger (Austin)
Genre: Indie rock
When: Sunday night at Banter (with Shiny Around the Edges, Fishboy)
Flemmons' take: "They submitted their application through SonicBids, but their album's downloadable at MySpace. It's fascinating. I take it these guys are really young—that's what I get from 'em. But the songs are really good. There's something really infectious about their songwriting. I'm not saying it's fully developed, but it's really interesting to me."
Who: Monotonix (Tel Aviv, Israel)
Genre: Garage punk
When: Sunday night at Hailey's (with The Show Is Rainbow, Beep Beep, Sybris)
Flemmons' take: "I've never seen Monotonix perform; I've missed them both times they've been around. Been battling to see that show. I'd like to see it first-person—on the floor and in the air, everything I've seen online."
Who: Casiotone for the Painfully Alone (Austin), Laura Gibson (Portland, Oregon)
Genre: Electronic indie pop and indie folk
When: Sunday night at Dan's Silverleaf (with Sleep Whale, Moth Fight)
Flemmons' take: "I think [Casiotone is] forward-thinking, but also backward-thinking. He's got a lot of attention [from national magazines]. He'd be a draw any day of the week. And he specifically asked to have Laura on the same bill as him. Laura was already here, and so we put them together. She was already part of the conference, and he's friends with her, and he asked if they could share the same bill. She was one of the ones who got in touch with us and wanted to come here."
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Who: Moth Fight (Austin)
Genre: Experimental pop
When: Sunday night at Dan's Silverleaf (with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone, Laura Gibson, Sleep Whale)
Flemmons' take: "I really like their music that I've heard, but I have so many friends telling me I need to see 'em live. They said it's pretty amazing. One of their guys used to write for Pitchfork. It's frenetic—I just find it really original. I have a hard time placing it, and for me, that's always a good sign."