by Lou Montesano

Scott Metzger is a regular on the jam band circuit, an ever-expanding ensemble of second and third generation musicians who keep the flame of the Grateful Dead burning for Deadheads old and new. Born in New Jersey, Metzger now lives in Brooklyn with other notable jambanders such as Eric Krasno and Jackie Greene. Brooklyn Bowl has become their preferred venue, with a rotating cast of characters mixing and matching to create a lively scene that breaks new musical ground while paying homage to their influences.

In addition to guitar duties for Joe Russo’s Almost Dead and many other projects, Metzger leads his own power trio, WOLF!, with Jon Shaw on bass and Taylor Floreth on drums. If the Dead's lengthy jams were never your thing, WOLF! might be more for you. Favoring super-tight instrumentals and edgy updates of Ventures-style surf music, WOLF! is a no-frills outfit that could serve as the house band for a Quentin Tarantino movie.

This past Thursday (2/2), WOLF! opened for fellow Almost Dead bandmember, keyboardist Marco Benevento, at Brooklyn Bowl. Metzger's trio performed a set of covers along with originals from their recently released studio effort, 1-800-WOLF!. Bassist Shaw's sweater and tie ensemble added an appropriate dose of fashion irony, but the band was otherwise all business until the irrepressible Marco joined them on stage. Metzger and Marco quickly fell into a familiar groove, taking the energy up another level and leaving the audience in need of a breather before Marco returned for his own over-the-top set.

Don't let their work in Grateful Dead tribute bands buttonhole your expectations. Scott Metzger, Marco Benevento and other musicians in their orbits excel across a range of musical styles. Adventurous listeners will be rewarded.

As for Marco's set, "colorful" doesn't begin to do it justice. He looked equal parts Cat in the Hat and Beetlejuice, with black stovepipe headgear and a black and white striped jacket. Karina Rykman on bass and Andy Borger on drums were dressed head to toe in white, well past Labor Day, but the fashion faux pas was easily forgiven as the trio hit the stage and launched into a non-stop series of the seven live songs that appear on the recently released Woodstock Sessions recording. "Drop Kick," "The Story of Fred Short" and "Coyote Hearing" were among the more familiar tunes, but each was performed full-throttle, leaving the audience near breathless upon completion. Marco Benevento is sheer joy, the antidote for whatever ails you.

Pictures of last Thursday's show are in the gallery above. Marco Benevento and WOLF! will return to Brooklyn Bowl on February 25. Benevento headlines again, this time as a duo with Joe Russo. It's sold out. Joe Russo's Almost Dead also do a sold-out Brooklyn Bowl run in March with shows on 3/9, 3/10, 3/11, 3/16, 3/17, and 3/18.


review & photos by Lou Montesano

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