With pride and perhaps a little deliriousness, Marco Benevento shared with the Sacramento crowd that Wednesday night’s show was the band’s 14th in as many days.
The spring tour began in Colorado, powered through the Pacific Northwest and maintained its potency into the California leg and its final four shows as Benevento, along with new bassist Karina Rykman and drummer Andy Borger, put on an intimate rager at Harlow’s Nightclub.
The trio opened with the seven-piece ballad “The Story of Fred Short,” firing off a psych rock dance party that roped in distant bodies from the lounge area along the wall and set the tone for the night. The organic personality shift from an edgy punk rock intro, to the joyous sounds of “Walking With Tyrone,” to the blustering craving of “Live a Certain Life,” are a testament to Benevento’s evolution over the years from solely instrumentals to, now, vocal-heavy indie rock ‘n roll.
Dressed like a pianist in a Tim Burton flick and embracing every aspect of the frontman persona, Benevento kept the mood light and the sparse crowd engaged. He even made the short leap from stage to floor and danced with the rug-cutters in the front while Rykman and Borger flashed their ever-evolving tightness with rib-sticking grooves.
After putting the Fred Short story to rest, the setlist bounced around Benevento’s canon with older staples like “Greenpoint” and an improv-filled “Limbs of a Pine” set closer that was elevated sonically with original lyrics and physically with Benevento jumping all over the small stage.
A head-banging cover of “Heartbeats” by The Knife was a reprieve from some of the his newer staples like “Dropkick,” the single off The Story of Fred Short, and Swfit’s “At the Show,” which was sprinkled between a half-dozen bows as the double encore and finale.
Rykman’s influence on the band and its punk-like atmosphere is easy to pick up. With usual bassist Dave Dreiwitz occupied with Ween’s return to the road, she’s brought in a youthful edge and intensified the aftertaste to a Benevento performance as he’s embraced the weird over the last few years.
She even took the lead on an unexpected and refreshing take on “Pepper” by Butthole Surfers – the first of their two encores.
As part of the band’s all-white ensemble, Borger and Rykman wore matching shirts that read “WE’RE USING TIME FOR FUN” in black letters. With Benevento continuing to test the limits of the keys and find his own as the performance personality skyrockets to new heights, it’s clear that they are.
[cover photo by @_erin_colleen]