Ben Kenney, bassist of Incubus, played a full set at the Grog Shop, Wednesday night, June 12.
Mr. Kenney, his superior shredding and honed craft were a musical force to be reckoned with. In the intimate space, his performance was a special treat for fans and a large step away from the large production at Incubus shows. Kenney was accompanied by Ashley Mendel on bass of The Division Group, Ari Sadowitz of The Smyrk on the guitar, and Joe Baldacci of Philadelphia rock fame, on the drums. Despite the smaller setting, Kenney and crew delivered on a stadium level, with sing-a-longs galore.
The Grog Shop was filled with an eclectic group of people and ages, thanks to opening thrash metal band, My Life’s Burden and high school dwellers, Lowercase d.
Kenney opened up with the first track of his last record, Beard of Bees. A sauntering intro, trumped by the crash of cymbals and rock riffs, as the track accelerated into the LP version.
In between and out-between songs, the quartet jammed into song interludes, laying riffs and grooves of reggae and funk design with a Rufus and Chaka Khan cover of “Tell Me Something Good”. The musical communication weaved in syncopation like their fingers on the fretboard. Regardless of the technicality demonstrated, Kenney and crew didn’t remove the smiles on their faces for a single song, and dare I say, may have even been having more fun than the crowd.
The highlight of the night appeared in the intoxicating solo of the song “Rubber Sheets”, with a crescendo that knocked beers out of hands and moved women to provocative poses against their accord. Allowing audience members to regain their breathe, the band left the stage, with Kenney reappearing moments later for a solo rendition of “Conception and the Funeral”.
In between the raw energy of every song, Kenney and crew were cool speaking with audience members. Humbled by the turnout on the stormy evening, he and band members joked and shared banter with fans. The crowd felt a connection with the musician not only through the outpouring of his music, but in his humility of just being another Joe from Jersey pursuing his dream. And, if the music didn’t inspire you, that did.
Ben Kenney’s solo albums are available for free at his website, BenKenney.com