Now a four-top — but Garage A Quatre just doesn’t have that racy roll — the Stanton Moore-driven Garage is currently pounding through its stormiest line-up. With Marco Benevento replacing the ebullient Charlie Hunter and percussionist-vibraphonist Mike Dillon adding unexpected percussive depth to Moore’s frenetic beats, Garage A Trois is one of the more adventurous psychedelic instrumental outfits on stage today.
Touring in support of its latest album – “Always Be Happy, But Stay Evil” – the fourtop – sporting fresh red Puma sneakers and fanged happy face T-shirts – ripped through their latest one-of-a-kind riffs with Moore’s intense jungle rhythms and Dillon’s lead guitar work with the mallets on the vibraphone. Couple Dillon’s speedy four mallets with the ever-freaky Skerik on sax, who can blow a wailing electric guitar lead, and Garage A Trois isn’t missing a string strummer. Both those guys can fill any holes with just about any sound. Benevento’s experimental and atypical keywork lends a restless vibe to Garage A Trois’ endless search for inspiration. On Saturday night the four musicians scoured the Cervantes stage for any stirring influence, sprinkling Led Zeppelin inside a Beasties riff, mingling hard punk with thrash metal and marrying world beat reggae with Cajun-spiced Meters funk.
It’s hard to imagine a percussionist joining the polyrhythmic spectacle that is Moore. But the punk-energized Dillon anchored the funky drum master with spectacular tinkling on the tablas and raw ripping on the timbales. Dillon’s downtempo even ambient harmonies on the vibraphone deep in the second set saw Moore mellow into intricate high-hat work that molded around the percussionist’s mallets.
To end the show Benevento launched into a stirring classical keyboard jam that slowly dripped into a four-way, jazz-spiked interpretation of Led Zeppelin’s “No Quarter.” With Skerik pacing alongside Benevento and Dillon ducking and weaving with Moore’s thunder, the song suddenly became their own and the near sold-out ballroom roared its appreciation.
Jason Blevins is a strange dancer, but that has never stopped him.