Bustle In Your Hedgerow @ Brooklyn Bowl – January 27
Words: Samara Lentz
Photos: Mitch Manzella
Blue lights flood the stage to start the show. Marco Benevento begins hammering the melodic prelude to “No Quarter.” With a few more chords melting into recognition, the informed members of the crowd let out a “whoooo!” of approval. And then, an explosion of sound in perfect syncopation—it was Led Zeppelin like I have never heard it before.
[All Photos by Mitch Manzella]
I wasn’t the only one who saw Bustle in Your Hedgerow for the first time last Friday at Brooklyn Bowl. I spoke with many members of the crowd who marveled upon their maiden voyage with Bustle, but the words seemed hard to find.
The most common descriptor: “life-changing.”
I liken this show to a “voyage” partially because each member is a veteran Jam Cruiser (music festival on a cruise ship) and we (the recent passengers) are still basking in the afterglow of our voyage together a few weeks ago. Also, because seeing this band make Zeppelin tunes “their own” is an epic journey well traveled. I imagine, it is a trip worth taking again and again and again. Just like anything that Led Zeppelin created is worth listening to again and again, for generations. Originals and covers—but!
To call these “covers” is simply inadequate.
Yes, at times Scott Metzger’s guitar made entire measures sound like a perfect copy of the original. Drummer Joe Russo channels John Bonham to the point of perfection, past tribute and into the realm of original genius. At times I could imagine what it was like to have been at a Zeppelin show, since their time ended before my concert-going years had begun—and before I was born, for that matter.
All I had before Bustle were scratchy recording; seeing the music of rock icons Led Zeppelin come to life as interpreted by my favorite contemporary musicians was a blessing. Face-melting—the second most common cliché used by speechless first-timers. There are moments of reinvention that are so unique that it is kind of hard to tell which is more the work of genius—the art or the homage to the art. Perhaps that is the point? Bustle balanced beautifully the ebb and flow of originality and trueness to the esteemed original.
Marco Benevento (Surprise Me Mr. Davis, The Duo), Dave Dreiwitz (Ween), Scott Metzger (Wolf!, RANA) and Joe Russo (Furthur, The Duo). The superb ways in which each of these guys tackles their part of each song is testament to the creativity and skill of this accomplished set of improvisational personalities. Each member has an inventive style all their own and a complementary chemistry with the other. Of course we know Marco and Joe can rock it any day on stage, especially in Brooklyn and bring the Duo, but Dave Dreiwitz also single-handedly brought the Ween and Scott Metzger the Wolf!. Literally, Scott brought a plastic wolf to accompany his amp, and his wicked licks. At one time Dreiwitz actually rocked a cowbell to play bass like slide guitar.
Everything about this show was a treat, especially the venue. The easy comfort and pleasant demeanor of staff and servers at the Brooklyn Bowl is among the best I’ve experienced at venues in the northeast. The bartenders are fast, friendly and great at managing the crowds—but boy there was a crowd. The managers are charismatic and hard working, but not too busy to make you feel special when you need them. Brooklyn Bowl is a great place to watch a show, bowl a frame and savor some well-prepared comfort food over a pint of Brooklyn’s finest craft beer. The ribs and knish are edible perfection, and I highly recommend. Bravo, Peter Shapiro and Charley Ryan, for combining all the character of a dive with the elegant execution of everything I am looking for in a venue. Bravo.
(Polo!) Benevento solos out of Immigrant Song into Down by the Seaside.
I don’t know if you caught that as another Jam Cruise 10 reference, but nonetheless “Marco Polo” on the Pool Deck is not the only game I got to play this year among the best audiences in the world. Talkin’ ‘bout love, these fans actually care about the music and each other. “Name That Tune” seemed to be the name of the game on Friday night. Song titles on the tips of our tongues…and our memory Trampled Underfoot of the awe-inspiring experience.
Most of Bustle’s Zeppelin covers are lyric-less, but at times the guys pick up the vocal melody and bounce it around the stage to one another. Perhaps it is because we all know the words, even if we can’t place the titles, but I swear you can almost make out vocal sounds at times, from the wail of each instrument.
Russo stood up from his drums to sing a few lines of All of My Love and Dave Dreiwitz stepped to a microphone at center stage to bring home Hot Dog with all the swagger, cowboy boots and sly smile of Elvis himself.
During an anticipated Moby Dick Russo took a solo and the rest of the guys dipped backstage for a spell. Russo carried it, without missing a beat, filling out the sound for the entire stage. He built up the energy of the crowd using his elbow and fists, hands. He sat up and down and basically played drums with his whole body, giving up on the sticks completely…
And the band walks back on.
Russo rolls the beat right into a nice swing—then a long tribal pulse. The beat dropped, pause…and the band hits it hard into a slow finish. Wow.
Next song: pure blues. I can’t place it…. What song is that? Lyrics come to mind, but there are so many Zeppelin songs with titles independent of their lyrical content. I got to thinking after a while that, hot damn—it almost doesn’t matter. I ask around, and I get the same sentiment reflected in the faces to my left, right and behind me. “I don’t know, it’s just incredible!”
Finished up with an encore, Kashmirbut it was the second to last song that really had me. Thank You into Heartbreaker mirrored the atmosphere of appreciation and blown-away-ed-ness fans felt by the end of this incredible performance. As a writer it is simply not acceptable to be without words after seeing a show. But, as others who saw Bustle in Your Hedgerow for the first time Friday night also confessed, it’s enough to make you speechless.