Four Years and Going Strong: Bowlive, a Brooklyn Tradition
For the last four years, Brooklyn Bowl has been host to a beautiful tradition: Bowlive. Brooklyn Bowl and Soulive combine forces every year for a two-week extravaganza showcasing some of the greatest names in the jam band scene — starting with Soulive themselves. The March 13, 2013 lineup was a spectacular showcase of local and imported talent: Brooklyn darlings The London Souls opened the show, with special guests including The Shady Horns, Marco Benevento, and David Hidalgo (of Los Lobos).
The London Souls opened up the show with a an hour-long high-energy set of original material covers. Last May, guitarist and vocalist Tash Neal was involved in a serious car wreck that kept him off the stage for months, so for Souls fans, seeing the band play such a killer set in such a homey environment was a pleasure. The band opened with a rocking cover of Little Richard’s “Lucille”, before going into some material from their self-titled album, including “Under Control” and a particularly raucous “I Think I Like It.” By the end of their set, the dance floor was filled up and ready to go for night five of Bowlive IV.
For someone unfamiliar with Soulive, The Shady Horns wouldn’t have seemed like special guests at all — the Horns seemed at home on the stage, like long-lost brass brothers. The addition of the Horns gave a new depth to the Soulive sound, helping draw out some reggae tones throughout the first set. A personal highlight was a tease of Bob Marley’s “War,” an unexpected surprise that lead into “Reverb.” Soon after, Marco Benevento and his colossal energy joined the two trios — at this point, more of a six-piece — for some more covers and Soulive originals. Benevento is a silly musical trickster whose talent on the keys (and probably off, to that I cannot attest) is beyond measure. The seven wizards on stage segued into Soulive original “Upright,” and from there into The Beatles’ “Revolution” and a wild cover of Zeppelin’s “The Ocean.” Both of these covers were fantastic, in no small way due to how much time Soulive and Benevento spend playing music by The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, respectively; Soulive released an entire album of Beatles covers called Rubber Soulive in 2010, and one of Marco Benevento’s many projects is called Bustle in Your Hedgerow, a Led Zeppelin cover band (I mean that in the best way, because they are incredible) with Joe Russo, Dave Dreiwitz (of Ween), and Scott Metzger.
For a crowd full of jam band fans, a Grateful Dead cover is usually a safe bet. One of the highlights of the show was all of the guests joining Soulive on a cover of “West LA Fadeaway.” With David Hidalgo leading the way on vocals and guitar, the stage was alive with funk on this spacey cover of a Dead classic. Hidalgo was, for me, a highlight of the show — as someone who was but an embryo during The Grateful Dead’s heyday, while I love the new jam scene, it is an unexpected (and unfortunately rare) delight to get to see a veteran like Hidalgo live in concert. The chance to see such a legend alongside more new-school musicians like Soulive and Benevento is a young concert-goer’s dream come true, and a reminder of the roots of the music we love so much.
The show ended with a three-song encore tribute to Neil Young, featuring The London Souls, Benevento, and Hidalgo. “Ohio” opened up what was could almost be called a third set, which morphed into a wicked jam that turned into “Down By the River” and finally segued into “For What It’s Worth” to wind down the night. It’s pretty safe to say, Night Five of Bowlive IV was a raging success.