Live Review

The Morning Benders, Webster Hall, NYC

More than just another indie-rock concert.

A good deal of press has been written about The Morning Benders’ evolution as a band. From their early beginnings as an indie-pop group these musicians have grown into a full on rock band.

When they take the stage at Webster Hall the crowd actually scream, a sound that feels out of place, tossed into the present from a decades old Motley Crue concert. With an absolutely no-nonsense attitude the band rip through ‘Cold War’, and ‘Mason Jar’.

On the album ‘Big Echo’ these songs seem the sort of dreamy pop that one might expect from their original hometown of San Francisco (they recently relocated to Brooklyn), yet live, there’s an added punch (a certain veracity to the electric guitars, and heaviness to the bass) that brings the songs closer to the domain of rock and roll.

Yet, the additional muscle of these songs, developed by half a year spent touring, never stands in the way of the songs’ melodies and harmonies. In fact, the strengthened arrangements remove the possible over preciousness that could be attributed to some of the more delicate vocal strains.

After their third song, lead vocalist Chris Chu takes a moment to address the crowd: “We haven’t been home in so long, we’ve been touring since March, and to commemorate the return we’re going to play our whole album, ‘Big Echo’.” This acknowledgment continues to prove this band’s continued growth. Grand gestures, and this brief acknowledgment of the unique nature of the show illustrates a conscious urge to make the concert more than just another indie-rock concert.

Chu continues to engage the audience, saying that the band are considering playing a cover, but the crowd would have to sing along. After he entices a show of hands, indicating who will sing along, they break out a seamless cover of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Dreams’. Originally half the audience raise their hands, but a good deal more sing along. Expert executions of ‘Promises’ and ‘All Day Day Light’ later give the crowd a chance to dance.

During their final song of the evening, ‘Excuses’, Chu paces the stag with a maraca shaking it above the audience like a preacher with a ladle, liberally dispensing holy water to the initiated. Taking a cue from some of their other material like ‘Stitches’, the band blow out the end of the song, building up a gigantic wall of distortion that swallows the song’s traditional fade-out ending. In a moment of brilliance, just as the looming wall of noise threatens permanent auditory damage, the band quiet their instruments, leaving only the looping melody of Chu’s voice behind.

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