Bangin’ On Shit Can Be Awesome

Nights like Wednesday evening at places like Tonic are what make seeing live music a truly worthwhile endeavor. I know, this post already reeks of condescending uber-headiness, but I can’t figure out how to frame it any other way. What those four guys did up on stage two nights ago reminded me of the dragon most of us are constantly chasing. The word I can’t shake is “mesmerizing.”

For the fourth show of his Wednesday Novemberstand, Marco Benevento invited up his Duo partner Sir Joe Russo, composer/drummer Bobby Previte and master percussionist Mike Dillon for a night of collaborative improvisation. It wasn’t one of those perfect melody-driven rawkfests, but what we saw was so much better than that. This was a total throwback to the days when you could watch a band feel each other out and actually make serious music together, not just play it.

Photo courtesy of Ted Wong

Benevento played a grand piano most of the night, eschewing the lavish set-up of toys he employed at his solo show the previous week. Previte and Russo sat behind drumsets for much of the show, but the two of them and Dillon managed to bang on some other shit and break out little-used percussion tactics for much of the night — Russo even played the flute with his nose for a bit, and Previte both threw or drained sand (or rice? or Fuji Dust?) onto the high-hats and drums.

Unfortunately, this was a shining example of a “You really had to be there” show. So instead of sputtering with imagery, I’ll just cut my losses and post this poorly lit clip I shot during the encore, a fantastically unique take on the Spencer Davis Group classic Gimme Some Lovin’. This 51-second video of the lead-in features Mike D absolutely ripping the xylophone a new bumhole before the rest of the band gets cookin’ with gas on an inspired-as-shit cover.

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There’s one more show left in Marco’s residency at Tonic. Next week he’s playing with Reed Mathis and Matt Chamberlin, so get down there and wave goodbye to a month of clever experimentation and reaffirming improvisation.

Photo courtesy of Ted Wong

Previously on HT: The Duo -1 Russo (+1 Metzger) = The New Duo

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