10 May 2009

Marco Benevento Trio @ Westcott Theatre

Made the trip to the Cuse on a Thursday night for a dose of Marco Benevento and the Marco Benevento Trio, featuring Reed Mathis on bass and Andrew Barr on drums. Pretty fantastic lineup, except it took them a good while to show their potential. Started out pretty damn sloppy right out of the gates with their cover of My Morning Jacket's Golden. Marco had a prerecorded sample going that literally sounded like the house music hadn't been turned down yet, total mess. Marco seemed kind of out of it the whole night, and when he mentioned too many late nights in New Orleans at Jazz Fest it kind of made sense. He was only equipped with the piano for this set-up though he had plenty of effects pedals running out of that thing. For the first half of the show, the pedals, and the numerous pre-recorded samples he had going were completely distracting and seemingly pointless and unnecessary. But at about the midway point it all started to come together, starting with the Knife's Heartbeats which was awesome. The band really ratcheted it up on a reggae groover RISD. This is when the band finally gelled and flexed their muscles. And then Real Morning Party was the final dagger in my smile, I defy anyone to not love this song. It is the definitive answer to the question, Can a sing-a-long be an instrumental? I made it home a little after 2am and when I awoke 4 hours later I was uncontrallably humming it.

It was a hot and cold type set, and tough to nail down if it was worth the 3 hour roundtrip on a school night. When it worked Marco was using the effects to subtlely enhance the standard piano sound, when it didn't he was fuddy-duddying with the electronics and samples to the detrement and distraction of the actual music he was trying to play.

Speaking of electronics, the opener, Jeff Bujak, was the 21st Century's one-man band. Replace the accordian with a couple keyboards, the harmonica with a laptop, and the knee cymbals with some drum loop pedals, and add in a personal LED light show. Instant party band. He set up on his own riser in front of the stage. Pretty good stuff, would have been the perfect opening set if the headliners came on immediately after since there was no stage switch necessary, but alas, they waited the usual amount of time to come on, which of course was an hour later than expected.

UPDATE: Download the show here

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