Tag Archives: Mike Benigno

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Middle Kids – Music Hall of Williamsburg – September 16, 2017

September 18th, 2017



Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Vulfpeck Fly Funky Flag Friday Night at Brooklyn Steel

September 11th, 2017

Vulfpeck – Brooklyn Steel – September 8, 2017


Funky times call for funky tunes. And while it seemed on Friday night like half of the country was on fire and that the other half was staring down a massive hurricane, Ann Arbor, Mich., band Vulfpeck landed in Brooklyn to plant their funk flag and fly it high—the first of thee booty-shakin’, sold-out Brooklyn Steel appearances in a row. “And just like a sporting event, there will be a palpable drop in energy after the introduction,” jokingly said Jack Stratton as a means of introduction.

The whole thing felt like a funky circus troupe, with at one point 11 people onstage, each switching instruments, more than half of them in gym gear straight out of a ’70s phys ed class, and Stratton leading dance moves and sing-alongs—the rhythm never falling out of time. “New York, can you sing this bassline?” asked the frontman as an intro to “Fugue State,” and the crowd happily obliged. For “El Chepe,” Stratton led the audience through a dance called the Choo Choo. R&B singer Antwaun Stanley joined the band for the set’s middle third, and everyone else in the room joined him on the chorus for “1612.”

The love Vulfpeck have for’60s and ’70s classics is evident in their sound. They paid homage with Stevie Wonder and Al Green covers, but there were audible traces of the era flowing into every tap of the drum. A raging brass section helped, too, with guest Elizabeth Lea, of Tedeschi Trucks Band, tearing it up on the trombone on several songs. And “Back Pocket” featured some elaborate audience participation, in three-part harmonies no less. But the show wasn’t over until “Outro” was played with the saxophone blaring, a song so perfect as a finale that it was the last one played at my own wedding. And with my 30th birthday on Friday night, it’s now also closed out my twenties. A true funkin’ coincidence if there ever was one. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Conor Oberst – Celebrate Brooklyn – July 20, 2017

July 21st, 2017


Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Aimee Mann – Music Hall of Williamsburg – June 26, 2017

June 27th, 2017


Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Dawes – Brooklyn Steel – June 14, 2017

June 15th, 2017


(Dawes play the Capitol Theatre tomorrow night.)

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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At Brooklyn Steel Whitney Prove Why They Continue to Get Bigger

May 25th, 2017

Whitney – Brooklyn Steel – May 24, 2017


It’s been a whirlwind for Whitney ever since releasing their much-acclaimed debut album, Light Upon the Lake. They’ve visited New York City, crisscrossed the country, made their television debut, toured the rest of the world and returned to NYC—each time passing through an increasingly larger venue, having quickly outgrown almost all of them. For a group that began as a bedroom project, recording songs in the dead of a Chicago winter, the nonstop touring has made a good band even better: It’s been a hell of a first lap.

Last night, Whitney took over Brooklyn Steel, a venue even newer than the band. The show kicked off with a Dolly Parton cover, “Gonna Hurry (As Slow as I Can),” performed by guitarist Max Kakacek and singer Julien Ehrlich on the piano. And although the song takes some serious falsetto chops to sing, Ehrlich might be the only male singer in the world capable of nailing it. The remaining members of the six-piece then came out to perform “Dave’s Song,” It’s a glorious moment when the rest of the band kicks in alongside Ehrlich’s drums. There’s something to be said for singing drummers, and with the frontman’s tender voice, the sticks in his hand added punch to his pleas. The cheery “No Matter Where We Go” featured drum fills trading off with Kakacek’s guitar riffs. And the lovesick “Polly” finished with a piercing Will Miller trumpet solo. The performance streamed live and there were shout-outs to a pair of grandparents watching, including a grandfather, born in Brooklyn, celebrating his birthday.

The momentum shifting instrumental “Red Moon” made room for each instrument to shine, its slowdowns and buildups making way for guitar and trumpet solos. Next came the Lion cover “You’ve Got a Woman.” “It’s always a hard song to play, and we sweat a lot, so don’t take too many Instagram photos,” warned Ehrlich before jumping into it. Whitney played most of Light Upon the Lake before announcing that they’d return. The four-song encore kicked off with a brand-new tune: “It’s about partying too hard,” said Ehrlich by way of introduction. Next came what’s become a tour staple, their cover of NRBQ’s “Magnet,” followed by the theme to The Golden Girls. Ehrlich claimed that he’d have trouble with the lyrics, but the audience enthusiastically helped out, before Whitney closed with “No Woman,” pausing at the end to thank everyone before jumping back into the climactic finish. These songs have been perfected, poised yet again to be a soundtrack for those sunny golden days of summer. —Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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A Music Benefit for Planned Parenthood and the ACLU – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 18, 2017

January 19th, 2017

Sharon Van Etten - Music Hall of Williamsburg - January 18, 2017

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Damien Jurado Mesmerizes The Bowery Ballroom on Sunday Night

November 7th, 2016

Damien Jurado – The Bowery Ballroom – November 6, 2016

Damien Jurado - The Bowery Ballroom - November 6, 2016
Somewhat quietly, Damien Jurado has put out some of the best albums (in my opinion) of the past few years, and just as quietly, he took the stage at The Bowery Ballroom on a somewhat quiet Sunday night to run through a bunch of his songs. This time around he was performing solo, just his voice and an acoustic guitar. But before he began playing, he told the crowd he was “very relaxed right now,” and that more or less set the stage for a mesmerizing set of music. The show went through several phases: The short opening portion, set off by “Working Titles,” with Jurado singing, “Many nights you would hide from the audience,” was very introductory. His mellow, deadpan chitchat evoked a slightly hipper Steven Wright as Jurado explained that he hadn’t put on his “show clothes,” looking quite indie folk in ripped jeans and a Sub Pop sweatshirt. The next section was punctuated by vivid colors from the overhead lights, each song gaining an aura from the hue—heavy orange adding a glow to “Kola” as Jurado evoked imagery of “your name across my smile,” and a cosmic blue for “On the Land Blues.”

As the crowd fell into a pensive silence, the music picked up a hallucinogenic halo, Jurado’s vocals hazy with a natural reverb and his guitar crackling with a percussive energy. “TAQOMA,” off his latest album, Visions of Us on the Land, basked in orange and lime green, a transporting psychedelic sunshine. For the next phase, Jurado pulled back, almost channeling an alternate universe Neil Young, the songs almost playing themselves, intense and at times personal. The crowd loosened up toward the latter part of the show, somewhat emboldened by the relaxed atmosphere and the honesty from the stage, and the final portion felt like a conversation between Jurado and the audience, an extended back and forth bounced from daylight savings to New York City to unique kid names to Seattle and maybe back again. A request for “Rachel and Cali” was quickly granted and proved to be a highlight bathed in pinks and blues. The encore included “Everything Trying” with another stunning image of “I’ll be Sailing on your deep blue eyes,” and Jurado responding once more, quietly exclaiming, “We’re all so weird, isn’t it great?” —A. Stein | @Neddyo

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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The Jayhawks Sound Ageless at The Bowery Ballroom

June 16th, 2016

The Jayhawks – The Bowery Ballroom – June 15, 2016

The Jayhawks - The Bowery Ballroom - June 15, 2016
It’s inspiring that Gary Louris and the Jayhawks can still do this: hit that sweet spot where good-time rock and roll, sweet-and-sour folk and scuffed country are the same music and hold on that spot for the duration of an entire show. You find yourself embracing the voices, but it’s as much the vibe, too—those mesmerizing, Everlys-style harmonies laid on a Flying Burrito Brothers bed, but with the frayed edges of ’90s alt rock present to keep things from getting too comfortable. Louris himself—surrounded by a further-revised version of the band that includes Marc Perlman, Tim O’Reagan, Karen Grotberg and new guitarist Kraig Johnson—is making age work for him.

Louris’s singing sounds a bit more lived in, but as he and the band peeled off songs last night at The Bowery Ballroom like “Waiting for the Sun,” “Leaving the Monsters Behind” and “Stumbling Through the Dark”—the first three to begin a 25-song evening—it’s clear that he’s become the gritty veteran troubadour he could only nod toward when he was a much younger man. Even the Jayhawks classics, from “Blue,” and “Tomorrow the Green Grass” to set-closer “I’d Run Away,” have a more knowing, perhaps pragmatic tone than they once did, made that much more potent by the fact that the singer, 20 years or more later, now knows these things he thought to be evident, rather than speculated. Give Louris this, as well: That Jayhawks sound stayed remarkably consistent, right up through this year’s guitar-y, gently experimental Paging Mr. Proust, one of the band’s best albums.

That newer material—“Quiet Corners & Empty Spaces,” “Ace,” “Isabel’s Daughter”—nestles comfortably among the old, with fewer emotional triggers for a crowd weaned on classic-era Jayhawks albums like Hollywood Town Hall and Tomorrow the Green Grass, but in time, becoming of a piece with those decades-old tunes. Indeed, throughout this very sold-out show, Louris and Co. seemed to draw on as many Jayhawks flavors as possible to demonstrate the common thread, from “Tailspin,” which was served up roadhouse-Dylan style, almost a fist-pumper, to “Settled Down Like Rain,” which Louris delivered solo, plus “Tampa to Tulsa” and “Angelyne,” each with an assist from opening band Folk Uke. The Jayhawks—and Louris, personally—have been through a lot of changes since those heady days of Hollywood Town Hall. But shows like this one confirmed what we always suspected about the band back then: The Jayhawks’ sound is ageless, and their mission is a sure one, even as time marches on. —Chad Berndtson | @Cberndtson

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Michael Kiwanuka – Rough Trade NYC – April 3, 2016

April 4th, 2016

Michael Kiwanuka - Rough Trade NYC - April 3, 2016

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Dr. Dog – Terminal 5 – March 18, 2016

March 21st, 2016

Dr. Dog - Terminal 5 - March 18, 2016

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Rubblebucket – Brooklyn Bowl – January 9, 2016

January 11th, 2016

Rubblebucket - Brooklyn Bowl - January 9, 2016

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Aimee Mann – Music Hall of Williamsburg – December 12, 2015

December 14th, 2015

Aimee Mann - Music Hall of Williamsburg - December 12, 2015

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Okkervil River – The Bowery Ballroom – November 22, 2015

November 23rd, 2015

Okkervil River - The Bowery Ballroom - November 22, 2015

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com

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Nick Jonas – Terminal 5 – September 9, 2015

September 10th, 2015

Nick Jonas - Terminal 5 - September 9, 2015

Photos courtesy of Mike Benigno | mikebenigno.com