PHOTOS / WORDS: Marco Benevento Trio @ The Independent, SF 12/4/11

Marco Benevento did his best to keep a San Francisco audience perfectly satisfied last night as he brought his trio into town (this time with Reed Mathis on bass and Andy Borger on drums), but it was clear from the energy in the room that everyone had spent themselves out on a crazy Saturday night. Typical San Francisco behavior, actually… partying comes in cycles. And Marco stayed animated and definitely got people rocking after a relatively tame-ish opener in Fred Torphy (from Big Light).

His set was basically Big Light light…which to be me was partially unbearable and just continues to NOT win me over the more and more I see these guys play. The guitarist Jeremy Korpas can absolutely shred, but their drummer is a half percentage over lifeless and boring and Torphy always seems like he’s trying to take himself just a bit too seriously for the music he’s putting across. I hate to say anything negative, but I just wish that people could kind of give these guys a rest like folks have with Tea Leaf Green. To their credit, they did have Marc Friedman from the Slip sitting in with them when we arrived, so he made it fun to watch for me and I kept my attention there for most of the end of the set that I saw.

With Marco out on stage a bit early to log into his Yahoo Mail account (kangfirmed), the anticipation quickly built and the front row was all ladies. Once the set started, two girls just whipped out their cameras and stood in front of Marco for the entire night. A bunch of folks clearly took some drugs that were making them rowdy, and for the most part, me and my crew were less than impressed by their over-spirited behavior and it just wasn’t the pace any one of us were moving at. So we chilled and took in Benevento’s always impressive key work and enjoyed the company of our friends that have been following this guy for years now…

One of the best parts of watching Marco Benevento is getting to take in the musicians that he chooses to work with. Reed Mathis showed up much more “clean-cut” than the last time I saw him, which meant his beard was only a few inches now as opposed to approaching “feet” length. Red Beard was wielding some serious electronics last night on his rig and producing sounds that mimicked an actual lead guitar on some of the sections of songs where Marco was left to take lead. His fuzz bass was fuzzy and muddy and his clean bass tone was cutting through the key and drum combo so perfectly at times. He really knows how to play with Marco.

And relative new-comer to the Marco circle is this guy Andy Borger was totally mixing it up and giving much more “live” interpretations of the songs that Benevento has released officially in the past. His style was loose and all over the place, with a lot less of that Andrew Barr style cross-sticking and over-energetic frantic playing that I had gotten very used to with Marco’s music.

The highlight of the set came when they dove into the two songs off the 7″ that Marco was selling, featuring the track “Escape Horse” which was recorded with Mike Gordon and “Fireworks” which had been recorded with Mathis. Both tracks absolutely slayed live.

All in all, another great show and an absolutely crowd-rousing “RISD” closed out my night as I left a few minutes early to find my way back to bed at a normal hour. The band is still touring the West Coast so don’t miss their show if they’re coming to town.

December 6 | Moe’s Alley | Santa Cruz, CA
December 7 | HumBrews | Arcata, CA
December 8 | Sam Bond’s | Eugene, OR
December 9 | Doug Fir Lounge | Portland, OR
December 10 | Nectar Lounge | Seattle, WA

Then Marco heads to Colorado to play some Garage A Trois shows…

December 13 | The Llama | Telluride, CO
December 14 | Three 20 South | Breckenridge, CO
December 15 | Aggie Theater | Ft. Collins, CO
December 16 | Fox Theater | Boulder, CO
December 17 | Cervantes | Denver, CO

Here are a few of the shots from the show:

  • Umbrella_music

    So how is it that people have given up on tea leaf green when they just sold-out 2 nights at the Indy. Obviously it’s you that has which is fine, but that comment is just stupid

    • http://www.livemusicblog.com Justin Ward

      That’s fair…. clearly it’s just my opinion that both them and Big Light are a little generic in the “jamband” category.  I give them credit for being songwriters and actually honing their craft over time…. I just hope for more dynamics when I see bands live these days.

      Indeed, selling out the Indy is nothing to scoff at…. maybe I just don’t get the appeal. :)

      • Umbrella_music

        I totally understand where your coming from, ultimately big light esp., are pretty straight ahead songwriter rock band. The Jamband world encompasses so many genres bands and musicians that it’s easy for bands that don’t really have the same appeal get lumped into similar categories and shows…

  • Bella

    I didn’t enjoy Big Light either. Sorry dudes , but every song they played sounded the same . I even saw the bass player yawn!
    It was worth the wait because Marco and the band were incredibly amazing ! I was blown away when he played Record Book! I had no idea that he was such a musical genius!

  • rebeculus

    I too was so happy to see Record Book! One of my favorites. I think they also played Greenpoint, which another of my favorites. Also… I am probably wrong, but I swear that Escape Horse song is the same song he released sometime right after Jazz Fest 2011 online in a set that when I downloaded it was called “Bene Live: April 2011.” I think it’s the first song on that release, which there is called Fields of Green. I listen to that “Bene Live April 2011″ almost daily on my commute to work, which is why when I heard Escape Horse, I felt so familiar with it. Again, I’ve been wrong before on this kind of stuff so I probably am, but now I am curious if they’re the same song.

    Regarding Big Light being compared with Tea Leaf Green… well, yeah, I disagree. I know exactly what you mean about the generic jamband sound, but I would definitely select other bands to describe that way. For what it’s worth, TLG’s sound is evolving, as all bands’ sound does, and I for one love the direction it’s been going in the last year or so.