Producer and multi-instrumentalist Marco Benevento kicked off his tour this week with his own band, supported by WOLF!. On Thursday night, the tour hit Benevento’s former and forever stomping grounds of Brooklyn with a wild and inspired performance at the Brooklyn Bowl.
WOLF!, a trio fronted by guitarist Scott Metzger, is a cool hybrid of gritty, buzzing blues and throwback surf rock. The bassist and drummer are a real tight couple of players, which provided a nice constant background for Metzger to dazzle the way he always does on guitar. Brooding in sound as it might have been, WOLF! hopped along with the same dance vibe that Marco would later take to crazy heights with his own set. WOLF! brought out Marco for a couple of sultry, swinging numbers. The Bowl at this point was already packed to the brim, with an energetic crowd that was showing how grateful they were for this old-school, instrumental magic.
For as crisp and succinct as Metzger’s rhythm section is, Benevento’s is zany and explosive. While regular bassist Dave Dreweitz gears up for an impending tour with Ween, 23 year-old Karina Rykman filled in, as she had been periodically throughout the last year. Though she may not give the impression, she’s an absolute maniac on the bass. Andy Borger, longtime drummer for Marco, is also a spectacle all in himself, who champions what you could call controlled chaos, looking and sounding like an angry, bombastic orangutan on the drums while also being so perfectly in the pocket. Together, with Marco, it all combines to create music that on the one hand cranks with the mechanical fury of punk rock, but imbues itself with blends of jazz, pop and indie.
Then keyboardist walked out in his eccentric striped suit and top hat, looking like Johnny Depp ready to perform a set of Burton-esque musical numbers. The opening segment of Thursday’s show at the Bowl displayed the entire suite of The Story of Fred Short, the name of the concept album that is the trio’s latest studio album. The suite works as a dreamy, psychedelic-tinged flow of different melodies and sounds, and live the band has already shown mastery of laying it out grandly from end to end. Somewhere in its heart, around the fourth tune, Marco let out on his piano for the first time of the night, with some lengthy and powerful soloing. But what was fortifying his playing all night was the strength of his trio, Bergman and Karina ever-charging on his heels with their own dynamic playing.
As the set continued from there, Marco colored it with some of his more indie-pop influenced material, including new songs “I Like it Like” and “House of Fear.” These numbers displayed neat, ultra-catchy riffs and melodies that all three musicians had fun fluffing up. But in these super hip grooves, like in “Heavy Metal Floating Upstream,” they found themselves room to stretch out, resulting in a few jams that rocked to points of such frenzy that they sounded as if any minute everything would just fly off the rails.
The band ended the set by playing Benevento’s classic “Limbs of a Pine” into Harry Nilsson’s “Jump Into The Fire,” the musical climax that saw Marco climbing on top of his piano and jumping off onto the stage. The trio returned with Metzger to join on “Bus Ride,” and “At The Show,” where the two JRAD members traded some awesome back-to-back solos.
Article and photos by Miles Hurley