Upon first sight of Benzos, it’s hard to imagine that four dudes in plainclothes T-shirts could churn out such melodic, orchestral-tinged rock with no less, live improvisatory remixing. But the Brooklyn foursome beat the brutality of a hot NYC summer night last evening (July 9), urging a varied assortment of elder indie rockers and bespectacled scenesters to chill out (quite literally).
A few lo-fi multivalent ballads kicked off the near-hour set as frontman Christian Celeya’s signature hair toss and “save me from myself” lyrics squelched the summer-soaked vibes at the Knitting Factory. “This song’s called ‘Hurt Everybody,’ but we are peaceful men,” forewarned Celeya, introducing material from Benzos’ forthcoming sophomore effort, Branches. From there, Benzos crashed into an impromptu synth stanza, complete with wailing guitar solos, for a cascading, lush free-for-all of grooving, echoing verse.
On the flipside, the electronic histrionics display from Denmark’s Under Byen was like waltzing through a deserted Danish fairyland on acid. Lead singer Henriette Sennenvaldt looked like Grace Kelly, and shrieked better than Joanna Newsom, adding to Under Byen’s charming cacophony of strings, xylophone, cymbal crashes, and frenzied feedback — more than plenty to leave the crowd lying weighted, and manic on the Knitting Factory floor. Who needs air conditioning after all?
We asked: Benzos is slang for anti-depressant meds. Leaving the pills aside, what puts a smile on your face?