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Marco Benevento, Mike Dillon & Reed Mathis
03.11.07 :: Tritone :: Philadelphia, PA
There are certain shows that you just need to be at, and the Tritone Session with Marco Benevento, Reed Mathis and Mike Dillon was one of those shows. The room's atmosphere was so sweet and peaceful that even the good Saint Mary would have felt comfortable. No crazy crowds, no fans screaming requests, no camera flashes, no cell phones, just a core group of music lovers and some fine musicians doing what they do best.
Benevento, Mathis, Dillon :: 03.11.07
Benevento barked into his mic as the trio ripped Pink Floyd's "Fearless" wide open. The intro was drawn and quartered by Benevento's slow, hard key pounding. He twisted the dials of his organ-mounted effects pedals sending any remnants of the original tune into oblivion. Mathis latched onto an early evening pocket, eventually pulling the trio back onto Floyd's majestic path.
The Tritone is buried on the edge of South Philly across from Bob and Barbara's, an aging gem of Philadelphia's nocturnal life. There's no real stage to speak of so bands set up shop against the venue's front wall. Mathis was squished between Dillon's percussion kit and Marco's keys. He realized early on that his bass affected the snare drum and utilized this tasty feature while flowing out of "Fearless."
Benevento & Mathis :: 03.11.07
Dillon chalked up his hands on the tabla while Benevento added a touch of fuzz to the keys. His Phantom of the Opera persona was amplified with majestic moves for Radiohead's "2+2=5." Reed played with a Humphrey Bogart swagger as Benevento and Dillon exchanged ragtag notes, deconstructing the song into a high-hat crashing honky tonk. Odd communication poured from Benevento's kooky keys. His outstretched arm engaged a sampler that flung the evening into new territory. The toys on his rig included an orange front-end loader that read, "I love getting dirty," and a smiling, glowing-eyed relaxation device. Both were equipped with knobs, which allowed for ample tweaking and freaking that made stars emerge in the twilight.
Benevento paused to point out Ropeadope's Andy Hurwitz, and dedicated the next song to him. Fire poured from his fingers when Dillon fucking exploded from left field! His skin tapping turned to killing drums where he hit so hard our ears wanted to run for cover. He let up only so Benevento could transport us with a light, airy bounce on keys. An Irish ghost piñata hung above Mathis, smiling down on the happy scene.
Mike Dillon :: 03.11.07
They paused briefly before starting a slow, slinky version of "She's Not There," which had an intense Vanilla Fudge feel different from The Zombies' original. Mathis's bass jumped at a chance to slug it out with the Zombies and trudged over it with some weighty thug boots. Benevento lit up his second tweaker toy of the night and the space around us fell out of existence. The trio traded the Rod Argent tune for the Beatles as they blew through "I Saw Her Standing There." Funky little riffs spewed out before the three amigos dipped into a deep limbo. After a first set like that there was not much left holding us to the earth.
Dillon shot Mathis a self-satisfied look as they started the second set with the Duo's "Mephisto." The song was simply beautiful, raising feelings from deep within our own bitter-hearted failures. The song transformed, baring stronger fruit flavored with love's essence, all the while moving to the mixed-up rhythmic time play of Mathis and Dillon.
Benevento, Mathis, Dillon :: 03.11.07
Dillon had enough of the light and sneered his way back to the darkness. Mathis's bouncing head carried us into a new era as Benevento played 1920's speakeasy piano. Liquor was poured, the cops were clueless, and those who weren't here were missing out. Local sax marvel Elliot Levin joined the melodious troop with a sax and flute in hand to hurl us off to something tribal and old, something ripped from the free-form space that resonated like Thelonious Monk. With a honk and a toot, the mood was wiped clean as Levin carried the group into a be-bop strut.
We were shattered into a million pieces by Levin's screaming sax. Dillon and Benevento fought for balance as they pulled on the groove. The group charged forward into wide valleys of resonance. Dillon topped the ridge and Benevento answered his call with help from Levin. The two brought the jam in and out of a scream like a DJ carving scratches from his turntable. Levin controlled his squawking sax by pressing the sax bell against his inner thigh, making his instrument speak in jazz tongues.
Benevento, Mathis, Levin :: 03.11.07
Benevento sent us out with the words, "You're not dying, you're living." They finished the evening with a very appropriate Carly Simon tune, "Nobody Does It Better."
No encore needed.
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