Marco Benevento 1/22/20 Cat's Cradle, Carrboro, NC

Kinetic keyboardist Marco Benevento delivered a celebratory show crackling with joyous energy and an undeniable sense of fun

Kinetic keyboardist extraordinaire Marco Benevento barreled into Carrboro, NC's Cat's Cradle to showcase his celebratory sound with exuberant bassist Karina Rykman and powerhouse drummer Dave "DB" Butler rounding out the tremendous trio. Freshly energized by a triumphant Jam Cruise appearance and the release of their new album "Let it Slide" on the Royal Potato Family label, the show was crackling with joyous energy and musical flourishes bubbling to the surface like sonic seltzer.

The evening opened with the tasteful solo stylings and blues-drenched guitar of Ian Ferguson, who wrapped up his set with a spirited take on Laura Branigan's classic "Gloria." Marco then emerged for a long set that ran his typical gamut from blistering rock jams to psychedelic art pop, with plenty of comical banter along the way. Seductive classics boasting irresistible hooks like "Dropkick" and "At the Show" were infused with an undeniable sense of fun that seeped through the collective psyche. Mixing heady grooves with surreal electronica, his unique blend of sentimental yet danceable tunes combined otherworldly ambiance with earth-rooted rhythms.

Halfway through the concert, Marco was handed a small homemade LEGO version of his band rocking out. "This is the coolest gift a fan has ever given us," he said while proudly displaying it to the crowd. He returned the favor by gifting them his sunglasses before running off stage and returning with an armful of shades that he gleefully bounded into the audience to disperse.

The set rolled on with the dreamy synth pop funk of "Greenpoint" and the luscious midtempo melody of "Fireworks" featuring animated drumming and snapping bass that made the perfect bed for Marco's shredding kaleidoscopic blues. "You never know just how you look through other people's eyes" belted Karina in a massive and ecstatic rendition of Butthole Surfers' "Pepper." The fun continued with the impossibly catchy "Let it Slide" and infectious groove of "Send it on a Rocket," both from the dynamic and mind-bending new album.

After profusely praising the crew, they embarked on an impromptu extended rant covering everything from loving impressions of Warren Haynes to Karina's new podcast "3 from the 7" on which Marco was a guest. "We've never talked this much on stage ever. I've never said anything," laughed Karina as Marco added "I'm bad at goodbyes" and told the crowd to "jump in the van with us and come to Charlotte tomorrow." As an explosion of energy capped off their 7th show in as many nights, Marco summed it up perfectly. "I appreciate you guys. Thanks for the weirdness!"

- Paul Kerr
- Photos by Tim Hobert