The Main Pub in Manchester Connecticut has one of the weirdest shaped bars and horrible stage lighting around. Though, despite what some could see as flaws, they make up for it by hosting some of the finest live music in state.
It was a whiskey kind of evening, there was a bass drum with a desert cat on the front center-stage and the first band was uniquely groovy. Percussionist, Jordan Critchley, was the first person my eyes were drawn to. His fly white fedora and his handmade kit were consuming my attention, collectively. He was playing with an African djembe drum with a pedal attached acting as the bass drum and there was a vintage washboard resting against the wall behind him just waiting to come out and play! The quirky guitarist, Joel Wiek, was plucking away at the guitar. His glasses kept slipping down his nose a bit with each time he would move his head. Karl Messerschmidt was doing the “beer bottle slide” while standing on top of his amp. Like rock-stars, they were shredding it. It was my first String Theories experience and it was good. I couldn’t put my finger on what the sound and vibe reminded me of. I polled the crowd and one explained, “sort of a Santana meets the (old) Eagles.” The trio ended with a song called “Little Elephant” and they dedicated it to John. Joel started to slap the guitar and I danced until it was over. It was amazing.
This bar/restaurant is one of the places I look to on a weekly basis to see what is coming through this little state of mine. In the back of the bar hangs a life-size portrait of a woman with a boa wrapped around her body who I always say looks like the Divine Miss M (Bette Midler). As the stage began to change shape for the next trio, a live Phish show was turned up by the house. “Theme From the Bottom,” “Tube > The Curtain With”…. “Please me have no regrets.” The guy behind me proclaims, “MAN! I am going to listen to Phish ALL DAY tomorrow! Something from the mid-90’!.”
The Marco Benevento Trio took stage and, hot damn, they are just really good at music. After their opening number, “Greenpoint, Marco welcomed the crowd and introduced his band mates of the evening. On the bass was Dave Dreiwitz (of Ween) and on drums, Andy Borger. Marco is a man known to play with many musicians. And it never seems to matter who he is with, the sound he produces with those who he surrounds himself with is on point. The mix of the different talents within each musician never get lost or overtaken by another or their instrument.
This trio had made a stop to Connecticutís own Telefunken Elektroakustik. The company specializes in giving modern day technology a vintage look and feel. You would have thought Marco’s microphone was as old as the piano he was sitting in front of. The merch table was complete with a new 7î vinyl release with “Escape Horse” and “Fireworks” on the B-side. The trio went onto play “Fireworks,” which was originally recorded with Reed Mathis (of Tea Leaf Green) The sound was somewhat reminiscent of something that The Beatles could have put out, or something from that era.
I had snagged a seat at the bar only for them to get into the infamous “Heartbeats” cover, originally done by The Knife. I was back on my feet before the bartender could even drop a coaster. It is one of my favorite songs. And for the crowd, the song was welcomed as something they recognized, they were bobbing their heads and dancing along to the (heart)beat.
I remained on my feet for the remainder of the evening. I will admit, I don’t know the titles of most songs. And I couldn’t be certain that anyone would have any recollection of the evening’s setlist, so I was sure to take many mental notes.
1) There was a shout out to Sleigh Bells, though I don’t know if that is because they played one of their songs or just because they are a super ridiculous group and Marco wanted to share his feelings on the whole thing.
2) There was a “Walk Like An Egyptian” moment during one of the songs. I looked up and saw about ten different people actually walking like Egyptians.
3) Insanely amazing drum solo by Andy. So awesome that the bar manager was dancing his heart out in back, screaming “fucking sick” as he air-keyboarded (if that is a thing.) End of song. “Sick. Fucking sick!” Clap, clap.
4) And what would an evening be without a little Elton John?. Towards the end of it all, there was some Bennie and the Jets in the air.
The Marco Benevento Trio will be up and down the east coast from now until the end of May. Order Marco’s latest album and check out tour dates here.