Marco Benevento is heading back out on tour with stops that include the opening night at The Haunt (Ithica) March 7th, follwed by Nietzsche’s (Buffalo) March 8th and Dub Land Underground (Rochester) March 9th. The 35-year old artist took a major step forward with the release of his latest album ‘TigerFace.’ The critically acclaimed ten-track collection is painted in a myriad of sonic colors, shimmering with acoustic piano, synths and analog keyboards, while the songs are seemingly conceptualized from every wisp of melody that’s ever tickled his ear. For more than a decade pianist Marco Benevento has been amassing an extensive resume of composition and collaboration. His albums set forth a vision that connects the dots between Explosions In The Sky and Tortoise on one side, Brian Eno and Brad Mehldau on the other. In the live setting, his performances reverberate with pulsating dance rock energy, which has led to numerous high profile appearances, ranging from Carnegie Hall to Celebrate Brooklyn, Newport Jazz to All Good Festivals. Benevento has been invited to open for The Books, Ben Folds and Rubblebucket, while headlining shows from coast to coast. As anybody who’s seen Benevento perform can attest, with eyes closed, smile wide across his face and fingers free-flowing across the keys, the pianist is a satellite to the muse. With a devout and growing fan-base, Marco Benevento is an artist whose career is only beginning to unfold.
Wrapping up a four-day mini-tour, Ultraviolet Hippopotamus (UV Hippo) and Dopapod arrived in Buffalo on February 9th in the Allentown District to perform at Nietzsche’s, Buffalo’s legendary hot spot for music and the perfect place to host this show. Eclectic Collective Entertainment (ECE Presents), the promoter of the show, did another fantastic job in securing this musical talent. Despite the snow that blanketed the ground from the previous nights storm, many people arrived early anticipating a great night of music. As for me, this was my first time ever seeing either one of these bands, so I welcomed the unknown evening of music with open ears and eager eyes.
Starting off the nights festivities was Ultraviolet Hippopotamus, who are as unbelievable as their name. Many folks made it a point to come out early to see UV Hippo perform. This explosive five-piece progressive improvisational band performs an eclectic selection of technically demanding compositions and improvisational material. The group floats between funk, jazz, livetronica, space rock, reggae, bluegrass and progressive rock within a single show and sometimes within a single song.
From the beginning, right through to the end, Dave Sanders’ musical leadership role was evident as he performed from the keyboards and managed the tempo of the band while contributing on vocals. Establishing the foundation from which this music builds upon is drummer Joe Phillion and percussionist Casey Butts. The rhythm section of Russell Olmsted on guitar/vocals and Brian Samuels on bass/vocals filled in the empty space effortlessly with their extraordinary playing abilities. Their talent and style are unquestionable, leaving the audience with memories of monstrous/thunderous guitar licks and deep resonating bass notes. Exploring new ground and taking risks made their performance unique.
Those in attendance realized that the band was into a groove and they just wanted to go along for the ride. It was kind of like not knowing what a person has under the hood of the car, then suddenly, without warning, they hit the gas and off you go, pushed back into your seat due to the sudden acceleration. After taking the audience to the mountaintop, the band eased back into their composition, dropping everyone off just in time before putting the pedal to the metal again. The band’s ability to jumping from one genre to the next, sometimes within a song, shows how much they have excelled at developing their own sound.
They tore it up the entire night, chewing up tune after tune and spitting gnarly remnants of awesome all over the crowd. The talent within the band is unquestionable and it is only a matter of time before the band blows up the scene. How quickly it happens, of course, is for the band to decide. I’m just lucky to be a new fan that’s coming along for the incredible ride.
Georgie > Run Rabbit Run > Two Pigs, Kpanlogo, Making Flippy Floppy, Cream Soda > Fearless > Cream Soda, Tugboat
Encore: Hey Tommy
Headlining the evening’s events at Nietzsche’s was Dopapod. The sound from this quartet is as varied and diverse as the many influences that they adapt from. With no regard towards stylistic boundaries they are not so much a jam band as they are a band that improvises. They are becoming known for their improvisational exploration and as a result more music lovers are steadily growing in numbers eagerly returning for more.
Proceeding to the stage through the crowd, the band took their respective positions and were warmly welcomed by the audience. The crowd expectations were high since UV Hippo got everyone primed up and loose. They began with a smooth “Intro” number to warm things up a bit before launching into “Onionhead”. From that point it was game ON. The band raged on and what lied in store for us through the rest of the night was pure energy driven music that lit up Nietzsche’s.
Suddenly, without warning, the music took a turn into an outright funk jam that got the last of the people in the place moving. Dopapod’s ability and commitment to complement a distinct genre bending sound sets them apart from many of their contemporaries and keeps music lovers eagerly returning to shows. Dopapod’s existence resides at the crossroads of full throttle intensity, with intricate and technical playing centered in deep pocket grooves focused on limitless experimentation.
Rob Compa on guitar proceeded into scorching classic rock wailing with Eli Winderman masterful arrangements on the keyboards were complimented by Neil “Fro” Evans back behind his kit. Chuck Jones’ talent on bass was evident from the start with gnarly bass chords. In the midst of this musical insanity, Mike Gantzer from Aqueous was invited on stage to perform with the band. His guitar playing abilities not only complemented the band sound but enhanced it to another level all together and those present surely appreciated the endeavor. The audience felt compelled to keep their eyes and ears peeled as this sonic whirlwind continued on with their relentless pursuit. After it was over, musical interludes that took the listener off on an endless musical journey, riding the highs and lows. This constant change adds a unique dimension to their sound.
There was not much room for the band to step off the stage so the band remained for an on-stage break, catching a quick breath of air before delivering their encore “FABA” to the crowd, who were moving bodies all over Nietzsche’s. Dopapod is truly a band to watch live, for the energy that is poured into their music is incredible. This foursome’s compositional and improvisational splendor was put on full display tonight and offered a peak into their entrancing live experience. Dopapod showcased their meticulously crafted compositions as well as their commanding ability to improvise as both individuals and as one unit. Their quest to continue developing music that is premeditated and spontaneous, light and dark was accomplished. Dopapod’s ultimate goal each night is to keep people dancing, entertained, and intrigued. Mission accomplished!
Setlist: Intro, Onionhead, Blast, Bll, Bats in the Cave, Trapper Keeper, My Elephant vs Your Elephant, We are Not Alone, LMNO, Priorities, Flipped, Sonic
Keep an eye out next week for Pete Mason’s interview with Rob and Neal from Dopapod!
The Werks will be performing Wednesday, February 13th at Buffalo’s Historic Venue Nietzsche’s on Allen Street. The show starts at 9pm with two local acts, Slip Madigan and The MKG’s, both of which are great in their own right! This show is 21+ and will cost $10 at the door. On Thursday, February 14th, The Werks head to The Westcott Theater in Syracuse with Second Dam and The Methodist Bells opening up. Tickets for the Syracuse show are $12-15 and is an all ages affair.
The Werks have quickly emerged as a national powerhouse. As a result of their eclectic individual influences, The Werks produce a dance party that can be appreciated by a majority of musical tastes. Fusing the psychedelic shredding guitar and screaming organ of jam and classic rock with funk slap bass, synthesizers, and modern dance beats, The Werks create their own style of music best described as ‘Psychedelic Dance Rock’. Their unique style of performing is affected and manipulated by the energy of the audience, guaranteeing that each show will be different and memorable.
The success is largely credited to the hard work of their street team as well as to the dedication of the band, their fans and a unique performance. The band regularly tours the US and holds their annual music festival, entitled “The Werk Out Music and Arts Festival“, each September.
The Werks have released 4 albums entitled: Dig It (2007), Synapse (2009), The Werks Live at The Werk Out Music Festival (2010) and their self-titled album, The Werks (2012). Make sure to catch their show at Nietzsche’s which is a CD release show as part of their Funemployment Tour.