Local Rhythms – Hexerei Battles and Wins

hexerei.jpgAfter hosting many a battle of the bands, Hexerei found itself in the unfamiliar position of competing in one last weekend at Mark’s Showplace in Bedford. The stakes were high enough. The victor would open for Korn at the Family Values show in Mansfield this Saturday.

Winning meant exposure to thousands of fans for a band used to hundreds on a really good night. That many eyeballs could lead to song sales on MySpace, not to mention T-shirts, thongs and beer cozies at the merchandise table. The chance to be the only local group sharing the stage with a bunch of national headliners was too good to pass up.

Coming out on top in one of these involves music only to a degree. As in politics, whipping up your base is the real key to winning. Hexerei’s ability to attract fans to their shows is an art form. In many ways, it’s more impressive than Travis Pfenning’s bullhorn vocals. In the competitions they’ve hosted, crowd size and intensity are as important as overall sound in the judge’s criteria.

So Hexerei heeded the advice they’ve given to bands like Broken Mindz and Stonewall, and brought enough of their own fans to fill the club. Most of them wore band t-shirts, and all of them made a deafening noise when Hexerei started to play. They kept the energy level high throughout the show.

The band faced long odds in the competition. Split, a Boston-based band on the bill, was already getting airplay on WAAF-FM. The Worcester station co-sponsored the show, and also provided a number of the judges. But the band played the set of their life, according to those who saw it, and there was no doubt that they’d prevailed, something their final score quickly confirmed.

Tickets are still available for this Saturday’s show; the Tweeter Center is even offering a “4 for 3” special. Hexerei also plays a warm-up set Friday night at Electra, with Window Pain, a Dover-based band that includes Charlestown native Jared Streeter, opening.

After a spot of bad luck that included the disappearance of band property and, briefly, Pfenning’s voice, things are going good for Hexerei. Their summer tour led to an offer for a few more Michigan dates, and Claremont’s Moose Lodge has agreed to let them present a show October 7th.

In the meantime, here are some options for the coming weekend:

Thursday: Chicago, Hampton Beach Casino: In the annals of horn rock, this band is the Beatles, Stones and Who all wrapped into one. They’re famous for love songs, but also hard charging tunes like “25 or 6 to 4” or “I’m a Man.” The original horn section still provides the band’s backbone, though familiar faces like Peter Cetera and the late Terry Kath are gone.

Friday: Al Alessi, Sophie & Zeke’s: A welcome return from a guy known for everything from soulful jazz to Roy Orbison covers. A mainstay at Eastman’s annual “Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon” series – he’s booked this year as well – Al has an easy touch on the guitar, and a voice that inhabits Van Morrison songs as easily as his own originals.

Saturday: Oneside, Salt Hill: The buzz on this Boston combo is building. They’ve graced stages from the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC to Austin’s SxSW festival. A blend of roots, rock and psychobilly that reminds me of Wilco or the Band, but is really too unique for such easy comparisons. Ian Knox on electric banjo is a revelation.

Sunday: Brad Paisley w/ The Wreckers, The Big E: It’s that time again. The Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA is the Humvee to every county Fair’s Prius, especially when it comes to music. He’s known for his singing, but Paisley secret weapon is his guitar. Michelle Branch goes country with the Wreckers.

Monday: Golden Smog, Paradise Boston: These members of Soul Asylum, the Jayhawks and Wilco have played (mostly) off and on since the late 80’s. After an eight-year hiatus, they released “Another Fine Day” in July. Their Paradise show is part of 6-city mini-tour, and the only dates Jeff Tweedy is playing.

Wednesday: Three Wheel Drive, Canoe Club: When CCTV went on the air, a tape from the Orford River Jam would occasionally pop up. Often, members of this band – Phil Singer, Bruce Brough and Byron Berwick were featured. Tonight, fellow River alum Laurianne Jordan joins them for a night of pickin’ and grinnin’.

Further out: Mark your calendars for shows from Rosanne Cash (October 4, Dartmouth College), and John Hiatt (October 14, Lebanon Opera House). Also, don’t forget the Claremont Fall Festival October 7, with the Chili Cook-Off and Apple Pie Contest, music from the Flames, and an evening performance by Gary Sredzienski & the Serfs at the Opera House.

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