Last night the concert calendar at the Independent listed Surprise Me Mr. Davis with opener Big Light, and there was a “Special Guest” listed that we all seemed to know was going to be Marco Benevento. Making the secret guest much less secret was the Independent actually updating their calendar earlier in the week to include Benevento’s name, even though I’m told that wasn’t supposed to be anything announced to the public. With the combo of musicians set to play at one of my favorite venues in the city, and considering I hadn’t really caught a full set of SMMD or Big Light at High Sierra, I figured it was good for me to go and experience these musicians while they’re all on the West Coast in the same spot.
Marco Benevento started the show off with a twenty minute solo set of his originals and covers, done with nothing but Marco’s half-rig and a pedal full of loops. He opened up the show with one of my favorites of his, “Greenpont,” and from there displayed his range of talent almost effortlessly through his hazed over eyes half shut and his head half-cocked. Big Light took the stage promptly at 9pm and Marco stayed on stage, so I was hoping he was going to sit in the whole set. He stayed on for one song and Big Light played through a set filled with medium-tempo alt-country-rock that just kind of failed to impress me over any other Big Light show I had seen in the past. See, I get that these guys are coming up right now, but I worry that they’re constantly shifting and non-concrete lineup is causing them a bit of amateurish performance. The new guy Jeremy rips pretty hard, and the one funky song that he seemed to lead that had a bit of tempo above and beyond the plateaued-tempo that the rest of the set meandered at was really the highlight. Sound problems were plaguing their set and the soundman kept needing to come up on stage to adjust, so we’ll chalk this one up to an off night for the band.
Marco came out after a little break and did another mini-set of solo stuff, just him and his piano and some beautiful covers. The second set brought up some favorite covers like “Golden” and Amy Winehouse’s smoothie “You Know I’m No Good,” and a seriously ripping version of “Atari” that I got some good video of thanks to my buddy’s new iPhone 3GS. I’m quite impressed by the quality, actually.
With Marco done and a brief setbreak, the Surprise Me Mr. Davis crew came out and ran through the material that they’ve been working on for years. At times it’s so different than the Slip or Nathan Moore’s stuff that I really enjoy it, but at times I found this set to be a bit lacking myself. That’s the “last show on the tour” for ya; it can either be a full-on rager where the band and audience let totally loose, or it could be like last night where it seemed most people in attendance were still licking their wounds from High Sierra. All in all a fun show, but not one that blew me away by any means.
Here are some of the photos I took; I didn’t bring my good camera so pay no attention to the actual quality of said photos. Just squint your eyes a bit and pretend you were there.