Sept. 27th – Ben & Friends made their RVA debut this past Saturday, at Tang & Biscuit. Ben Egan, a VA Beach native, has been hosting a Thursday night residency at LunaSea, which has helped the band establish a solid grip of the night life at the beach. The thing about this band that makes them unique, is that every show, the lineup is made up of completely different band members, at any given night. This allows the band to perfect a style of improvisational jams, that can build up, off several different pockets. This specific group was put together by Ben and Neko Williams, which included a lot of kats that play / played in various jam bands that have become RVA staples, in the scene. Below, I have listed the lineup, just to help, make sense of things, especially with all the moving pieces:
Neko Williams – drummer, Koro
Ben Egan – keys, DJ
Gabe Mcfarland – guitar, Jouwala Collective
Bryan Reyes – drums, Heartracer
Neal Perrine – bass, Koro
Ishmael Buzidune – guitar
Asante Williams – drums, Space Koi
Phil Dice – DJ
Jackson Shurlds – guitar, Koro
EJ Dennis Bollman – on the mic
Tang & Biscuit, located in Scott’s Addition, is RVA’s first shuffleboard social venue. It features a full bar, brand new kitchen, and has a huge dance floor, that allows everyone to gather and still be somewhat socially distanced. The atmosphere reminded me of a bigger version of the Camel, just with more people, but less headz. The front patio offers a cool spot to escape some of the noise and catch up with friends. Overall, I was impressed with the setup, especially how they made the stage out of the trailer!
Soon as the band started and found a solid pocket, all I could keep thinking was, “Oh shit, is this what Lotus is gonna sound like without Mike?!” That high energy style, especially with the dueling drum kits, sets the tone for the funky riffs to be laid on top of it, especially, with so many kats on stage at the same time. I love being able to decipher the layers and see how the person on mic settles into the schemes. EJ is great at freestyling the harmonization’s. Everyone was clicking and really making it seem effortless as they all adjusted on the fly. The DJ sets during the breaks kept the energy up and brought a lot of new people to the dance floor, especially when they wanted to sing along to classic tracks.
This style of music makes it super easy to have on in the background at the event and not be so overpowering that you can’t enjoy socializing. Tang & Biscuit really has the potential to have some epic nights transpire and I’m looking forward to seeing how Ben and Neko, both, keep shaking things up, while creating some different concepts, off the back of an already solid foundation.