Hit the Jump for Guiseppe Petri’s review of the Morning Benders show @ Mercury Lounge in New York…

Photos by Zoe Leverant

I’ve come to love Berkeley, California’s The Morning Benders Their indie-pop is sunny but not saccharine, and though its members coolly hover above the age of twenty with fresh faces and moons for eyes, this band plays and carries itself with the confidence and deftness of lauded bands ten years their senior. Their debut album, Talking Through Tin Cans came out via the always-solid +1 Records last May, and I was first drawn by singer Chris Chu’s dreamy and sometimes austere vocals, which seem to counterbalance all the colors in the band’s clever, rollicking music.

Anxious for more of the Benders’ amiable bright jangle and kick-drum thump, I caught them on tour last summer with The Kooks at Terminal 5 in NYC. Their set was fantastic, but I found myself much too distracted by the massive crowd of androgynous boys I thought were girls: wearing long hair, thin leather headbands, skin-tight jeans and deep-Vs—along with the sea of young girls who looked like the boys. Or is it that boys have looked like girls so long it’s gone upside-down? Either way, they were Kooks fans; they were pretty and I was transfixed, now where was I?

Ah yes, The Morning Benders live: I needed to see them another time, in a bit smaller of a venue…

I did not have to wait long: prepping to release an EP titled Grain of Salt, out February 24, plus a second full-length this fall, the Benders jumped on the road with The Submarines, coming to The Mercury Lounge in Manhattan.

A gal-friend and I left Chinatown, and moved down the avenues with certain lightness from sixty-five degree weather in February (save for the psychic pangs of global warming). We were not told that The Morning Benders were to bring us the California sunshine, but they did…

Chris Chu was looking dapper in slacks and sport coat, looking more distinguished these days than what I’d seen in pictures and the few times I’d seen him in previous visits: longer, combed hair; no wayfarer shades. He had a swagger that was not affected and it seemed to match the band’s stage poise and cohesive performance. The band looked young as they are, and as my friend excitedly commented, “kinda like computer nerds”. They didn’t interact much with the crowd at first, and didn’t need to. From the set opener, “Doctor Doctor”, to the Television-esque “Boarded Doors”, the Benders lent the Mercury Lounge crowd chills-up-yr-spine vocal harmonies, mouth-gaping guitar lines, and rumbling tumbling rhythm section head boppers.

The high mark of the set was when Chu assumed a kind of Julian Casablancas steez (in a good way), took his guitar off, wooed the crowd, saying “I love you all”, and proceeded to sing “Grain of Salt”. A song which necessitates a good old fan sing-along: “yeah yeah yeaaah!”

The bourbon was flowing and too expensive, but that never stopped the fun and the all-around warmth of the night. In attendance that night were many from-the-start Morning Benders fans, including members of We Are Scientists, rapper 88-Keys and Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear, who is apparently a massive Benders fan, and for good reason.

The Benders aimed to please, cranking out a cool nine-song set featuring two brand new cuts from their forthcoming sophomore album, and the aforementioned “Grain of Salt”.

Download a cover of The Morning Benders’ tour mates The Submarines, “1940” HERE; after you do, get off the hell of the internet and see these bands play before the tour is over.

Remaining Tour Dates with The Submarines:

Feb 13 Boston, MA – Middle East
Feb 14 Montreal, QC – Il Motore
Feb 15 Toronto, ON – Drake Hotel
Feb 17 Chicago, IL – Schuba’s
Feb 18 Minneapolis, MN – Triple Rock Social Club
Feb 20 Denver, CO – Hi-Dive
Feb 21 Salt Lake City, UT – Kilby Court
Feb 23 Vancouver, BC – Biltmore Cabaret
Feb 24 Seattle, WA – Chop Suey
Feb 25 Portland, OR – Doug Fir
Feb 27 San Francisco, CA – Slims (Noise Pop)
Feb 28 Los Angeles, CA – The Troubadour

-Set List-
doctor doctor
wasted time
i was wrong
damnit anna
boarded doors
grain of salt*
all day day light*
waiting for a war

* = new cut

All photos by Zoe Leverant



One Response to “The Morning Benders @ The Mercury Lounge, NYC – February 10”

  1. jeremy says:

    nice work Paul.

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