Marco Benevento, east coast pianist and songwriting extraordinaire, took the stage at the Independent Saturday night for a nearly sold out crowd in support of his latest record, The Story of Fred Short.
Marco Benevento has been a pillar of the psychedelic jazz scene since 1999, creating a bridge between jazz, pop and disco. While he’s nothing short of masterful on his electric piano, he’s also a talented songwriter in his own right. Not typically known for his vocals in the past, The Story of Fred Short, is heavily pop influenced and features lyrics on nearly every song. An extension of his last record, Swift, Benevento admitted in an interview with JamBase that there was a sort of learning curve with vocals; “It’s a new instrument! I’m finally over the hump of beginning it, and I’m starting to feel a lot more comfortable with.”
Avid fans who have followed Marco throughout the years might not be totally sold on his new style, as he’s sort of deviated from his signifying jam band style of his early albums and projects like the revered Benevento/Russo Duo and Garage A Trois, but his live shows haven’t been compromised. If anything, Marco’s use of lyrics enhance communication and create a higher level of intimacy between him and his fans. And his band for the last five years, comprised of Dave Dreiwitz and Andy Borger, sounded tighter than ever.
Marco came out in a black and white striped suit, rocking vintage sixties John Lennon-style glasses and a Willy Wonky inspired top hat, the theme of his latest album (in 2012 he lugged around a giant Tiger head costume in support of his album TigerFace). Benevento craftily controlled his beloved electric piano, “Gibz,” giving her praise and recognition, “I hot rodded her up and brought her all over the country.”
They kicked off the show with his first single from The Story of Fred Short “Dropkick,” as people sang along to the chorus, “Why you gotta throw it away?” Marco then delved deeper into the record, playing the entire B side to the record, and even brought out members of the opening bands to sing the first track from the record, “In the Afternoon Tomorrow.” Benevento incorporated throwbacks like the infectious “Limbs of a Pine” from 2012’s TigerFace, “RISD” from 2010’s Between the Needles and Nightfall, and his brilliant rendition of The Knife’s “Heartbeats,” from 2009’s Me Not Me record.
The crowd at this particular show encompassed the culture change that’s happening in San Francisco. They’ve seemingly become younger but continue to embody the ideals of strictly having a good time like the fans that came before them. Free-spiritedness has been the sentiment of Marco’s career and continues on, playing the type of grooves that urge raw, uninhibited dancing. Die-hard fans will be able to catch him again as he will be in the Bay Area over the next few days, with two secret shows in the Bay Area—one tonight (Monday) at The Battery and Tuesday night at the infamous Boom Boom Room.