Wednesday, February 15, 2012

the Benji Hughes Experience

"i went with my wife to see Benji Hughes, it was the strangest show i ever saw..."

i first heard about Benji Hughes when we went to see a random Asheville band playing at the Evening Muse one night called Now You See Them (very enjoyable show). They played a Hughes cover and asked the crowd who was familiar with the artist. Many in the crowd applauded, including me, thinking it was another guy's name who i had just started listening to at the time. Despite my confusion, i went home, researched and listened to this Benji Hughes guy from Charlotte. Several of his songs made it into my rotation. Based on his referencing from another band and my enjoyment of his songs, i assumed his show would be a big draw in the area and worried about him playing at a small venue such as the Evening Muse. Maybe it was simply the fact that it was a show on Valentine's Day and seeing Benji Hughes does not resonate as a romantic evening with many? Maybe the Charlotte music scene is even more lacking than i imagined? Admittedly, i don't get out to very many shows, but i was convinced there were more fans out there. With less than 20 people in attendance the show started. The opener was Elroy, a guy with a mixer and a laptop. While i actually did enjoy the trance-like music he was putting out, not the most enjoyable type of performer to see live. It looked as if he just pushed play on a song and was on stage playing on Facebook. Next time you're eating mushrooms or in a planetarium, invite this guy to play.
After a short intermission, Benji Hughes took the stage and the show got started...sort of. He gave a brief speech explaining his show should not be YouTubed and that he was just going to play and basically telling the audience not to expect an ordinary show. It definitely wasn't ordinary. He had Elroy stay up on stage and throw out some sounds. It was more of a jam session/comedy show than an actual musical performance. While some might be annoyed at this variation of a live performance, i sort of enjoyed it. i liked watching the Benji Hughes creative process in action as he took just a few spacey notes and was crafting a song right there on stage. If you had just wandered in and heard this guy sputtering up on stage, you might not be impressed, until he starts to sing. The voice that comes out of this bearded cross between hippie and redneck is amazing. The only downside to his form-free performance was that when he decided to play some of his songs, he couldn't really remember how to play some of them. Not preparing for a show or having a set list in mind when you take the stage is one thing, but you should be able to get through your own songs. Loved hearing "All You've Got To Do Is Fall In Love." Unfortunately, my perfect wife (sober driver and all-around good sport for even coming to the show with me on Valentine's Day) had a 6 AM flight and needed to finish packing so i didn't get to see how the show concluded or hear a few songs i was looking forward to, but i'm convinced Benji Hughes is a musical genius.

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