[ATTENDED: August 31, 2016] Marco Benevento
I’d never heard of Marco Benevento before this show. I looked him up before the show and listened to one song and thought it sounded okay. Because of a tight security force (understandable in light of recent events), I missed the opening few minutes of his set, but he played for nearly an hour, so I got a full taste of Marco’s music.
And Marco is a performer. Sitting at a modified piano in a black and white striped suit, he conducted his trio through long, groovy songs. Andre Borger played drums. And I was struck as soon as I walked in at how great and wild the drums were. Many songs had a click track of some sort (I think more just electronic noises on repeat), but Borger dominated the rhythm–playing great fills and smashing the hell out of everything in sight.
But the real star of the show was bassist Karina Rykman.
Rykman was the only one out on the front of the stage (Borger behind the drums, Benevento behind the piano) and she really drew everyone’s attention. She wore the same striped pants as Benevento (her white stripes appeared to be colored in with highlighters) and, quite noticeably, she smiled the whole time.
She was so happy, so pleased with the music they were making. There was no irony or posing, it was just joyful fun. And it was totally infectious. She was never still long enough for me to get a non-blurry photo.
And her bass was great. She didn’t do a lot of fancy stuff, but her groove was locked tight and the times when she got to jam (with a great fuzz pedal) really transported the songs. At one point after a solo, Benevento said the band was called Marco Benevento, but if anyone had a better name they could shout it out. Someone shouted “The Karina Rykman Trio” which made him laugh and when the show was just about over, he introduced everyone in the band and then said “and we are The Karina Rykman Trio.”
This is not to say that Benevento isn’t a showman, himself. He had all kinds of gadgets atop his piano (a laptop, some kind of synth), and sometime when he played it was clear that the keys were played through the effects. Oh and, at one point he climbed on the piano and sang from up there. By the end, everyone was into it and he conducted us to sing along to they Hey and Ho during “At the Show” (the one song I recognized).
Other than that, I don’t know any of his songs, and I can’t find a setlist online anywhere. But most of the songs seemed like really extended jams with Rykman laying down a great danceable groove, Borger punctuating nicely and Benevento either wailing on the piano, sitting back and watching his band jam or, in one case, climbing on the piano and encouraging us to sing along. I’ve never seen Dan Deacon, but he reminded me of what I’ve heard from Deacon’s shows.
I had so much fun with this opening band–especially so for a band I’ve never heard anything from before. And the guy in front of me was dancing all over everyone’s personal space. It was a great set and I would totally see him again.
Caveat, I know that Karina Rykman is not his usual bassist–that job goes to Dave Dreiwitz who is currently on tour with Ween. While Karina was a highlight for me, I’m led to understand that Dreiwitz also kicks ass (but can’t possibly be as charming). Knowing all this, I’d absolutely be psyched to witness the spectacle again.