Photo Credit: Bryan Lasky
One of the best ways to cool down after a disgustingly humid Saturday is with cold drinks at Albany’s Red Square, and on June 1st, it was even cooler with Boston’s Club D’Elf and the infamous Marco Benevento. Club D’Elf is notorious for having a jazz –infused, progressive rock, Moroccan sound which was enough to sell me on seeing their show for the first time while Marco Benevento is no stranger to me or Red Square.
The evening got off with a mellow and slow start with “Bass Beatbox”, gentle bells, easy beats from Dean Johnston and echoing riffs with each musician getting a feel for the crowd and space. I lingered in the back of the crowd to take in the sound of the music clashing beautifully together. I could hear Marco pounding on his keys while Club D’Elf sent out waves of creepy Middle Eastern flair. I was pulled closer to the stage by the hypnotizing electric guitar riffs in “13/Gijro” and strong rhythm of the drum set plus ever growing bongos in “Hegue”.
Being closer to the action gave me a deeper appreciation for the artists who kept a constant exchange of smiles between themselves and the audience, plus a better look at instruments, some of which I have never seen before. Danny Blume takes credit for playing the biggest guitar I have ever seen and shredded the life out of it. While Mike Rivard handled the skinniest stand-up bass, switching back and forth to an electric blue guitar, giving the music a heavy dub/reggae sound. Benevento played what must have been every note on his piano and keyboard, all with great fire and recklessness throughout the night. “I Wish I Was in Heaven” and “Sidi Rabi” as the encore, brought out intense vocals from Brahim Fribgane and exotic sounds from his stringed Lutar.
The sound of the evening could be summed up as a “Bob Marley meets crooked Arabian Nights meets downtown Jazz club” mixture. With everyone playing together, it was true Frankenstein of a band, complete with bizarre instruments and monstrous songs that left me with confused, delighted terror and amazement.
The show is available for a free listen and/or free download, thanks to Ed Guidry. Remember to tip your tapers folks and to catch Club D’Elf at the Disc Jam music festival and The Lizard Lounge in MA on July 12th and 26th. Marco Benevento can be seen at Equifunk festival on August 17th Upstate New York.
Setlist: Bass Beatbox, 13/Gojiro, Hegue, As Above, Mogador, Zeed Al Maal, I Wish I Was in Heaven Sitting Down, Instar,
Encore: Sidi Rabi