Marco Benevento: 28 December 2012 - New York

Benevento knows what the fans want (heady jams) and how to deliver. His keys also have an instantly identifiable sound, a rare feat to accomplish these days.

Marco Benevento
City: New York
Venue: The Highline Ballroom
Date: 2012-12-28

There's something special about New York City at the end of December, when anticipation builds to close out one year and usher in another. While the ball drop in Times Square is the longest storied tradition, the Big Apple has also become a New Year’s mecca for music fans. Much of this action is due to Phish, the jamrock kings from Vermont who are closing out 2012 with their third consecutive New Year's eve run at Madison Square Garden (following previous runs in 1995, '97, '98 and 2002).

But the Phish aftershow party has become something of a cottage industry in itself, since the fan base includes a certain segment of party animals who seek to keep the festivities going late into the night. Enter keyboardist Marco Benevento, who has become one of the most reliable scenesters in the jamrock community. The Benevento-Russo Duo played a number of gigs with Phish bassist Mike Gordon, including a memorable December 31, 2004, late night show in New York following Phish's breakup that year. Benevento and Russo were later tabbed to join Gordon and Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio for a summer tour in 2006, where they won the hearts of many more fans.

Benevento has more recently been touring on his own and continuing to make new friends along the way, sitting in with almost everyone at the High Sierra Festival in California this past summer and releasing a new album this past year in Tigerface. He knows what the fans want (heady jams) and how to deliver. His keys also have an instantly identifiable sound, a rare feat to accomplish these days. Benevento and his mates played a most triumphant show at this very same venue a year ago following Phish's December 29, 2011, performance, so the late night contingent reacted with glee when he scheduled another such post-Phish show for this year's run.

There's a lengthy line to get in outside the club early in the midnight hour, but once entry is gained the good times continue to roll. The band has a sound that features a jammy melodic goodness, but it's not a noodling or droning kind of thing. There's a jazzy flair but it's mixed in with the classic rock influence that is so beloved by most in attendance. And since this is the Big Apple, you don't have to worry about the bar getting shutdown at 2 am. Magic Hat #9s were still being purchased toward the end even as the show passed the three-hour mark, and fans were loving being in the city that never sleeps.

The show features a mix of Benevento's tried and true material, along with choice cuts from Tigerface, and of course a few classic rock covers. “Atari” is an effervescent sort of tune, with the piano out front leading the way but then backed up by the groovy rhythm section. “Eagle Rock” from the new album has a laid back flow to it, but one that seems to encompass the room in an uplifting kind of cloud. The new “Limbs of a Pine” on the other hand is a sonic blast of up-beat dancetopia. The studio version features a guest vocal from Rubblebucket's Kal Traver, whom Benevento will play with in Burlington, Vermont, on New Year's Eve. But even as an instrumental jam, the tune still sparkles. “How It Goes” is a second track with Traver from the new album that also shines here as an instrumental with it's groovy feel-good vibe.

A deep cut late in the evening that gets everyone fired up occurs when a guest vocalist jumps out on stage and a jazzy jam suddenly morphs into a raucous rendition of the Beatles' classic, “Why Don't We Do It In the Road”. The tempo drops down after a couple verses, with Benevento taking an extended piano solo over the groove that keeps everyone in attention. You never know when such a moment will occur with Mr. Benevento, and that's part of the attraction, that sense of musical adventure.

Another delightful surprise occurs when the tones of Pink Floyd's “Fearless” start to ring out, an immediately recognizable tune to students of classic psychedelia. The band blends it with a harder rocking arrangement than the original, with Benevento's keys providing a propulsive boost. It's easily one of the freshest jams on an old classic that these ears have heard all year.

By the time it ends, it's been over three hours of music. The audience is certainly satisfied, but that doesn't prevent most folks from hanging out for further socializing. Not to mention Benevento is hanging out at the edge of the stage to sign posters and/or shake hands with anyone interested. Big arena rock shows have their own appeal of course, but it's also vital to the scene when fans can supplement that with club shows where the musicians onstage are not so far separated from those in the audience.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.