BODEGA Are the Real Deal
BODEGA Are the Real Deal
Live in Vancouver, the New York art-punks showcase their full toolbox of talents.
By: Sam Eeckhout
"For every 30 minutes we play, we have two hours of discussion."
Entering the Fox Cabaret on a Tuesday night, there is a quintessential Vancouver cautiousness. 3,000 miles from their home in New York, BODEGA is an hour away from playing their final set on a non-stop five-month tour that kicked off in Austin, Texas.
The band is not hanging out backstage relaxing or celebrating. Instead, they stand in the crowd, having fun and watching opening act The Ford Pier Vengeance Trio, setting the stage for their resounding down-to-earth style, with an incredible attention to detail and purpose. A band on an undeniable rise up the rock ranks.
Touring in support of their debut album, Endless Scroll, co-vocalist Nikki Belfiglio takes the stage front-center, triggering vocal effects found on the album. Her set-up is unique in its own right, a mic, a hi-hat (in which she will hammer relentlessly), and a MIDI pad. The band joins her onstage after a suspenseful barrage of sounds, launching into "Boxes for the Move", an interesting choice for a set opener.
As a five-piece, BODEGA is the perfect blend of personas.
Belfiglio, the spark plug powering the show.
Lead Vocalist/guitarist Ben Hozie, switches from laid-back satirist to powerful frontman with ease, keeping one hand in his pocket as he paces the stage during an extended version of "Name Escape." His vocals a mishmash of Cake meets the B-52s meets the Talking Heads, witty lyricism with no frills.
It's during this tune that we're truly introduced to lead guitarist Madison Velding-VanDam, who breaks out into sporadic, frenetic movements during his distinct chord choices.
Bassist Heather Elle plays the mellow bassist role to perfection and drummer Montana Simone stands at her drum kit (sans cymbals) driving the rhythm with a cool mystique.
The stage is simplistic, but small details (like computer mice hanging on a microphone stand or square light boxes) add another layer of depth to their image. Endless Scroll is a wry social commentary of where we stand in 2018, tightly focusing on consumerism and technology, but the band is quick to point out that cynicism or distaste towards these topics is in no way their intention. A perception of distaste is a reflection of the listener's inherent bias that exists in art appreciation, and that’s what makes it worth appreciating.
While the five-piece operates with a unified artistic intention on the album, they equally act as one on stage. Each member uses their body in their own way to the music, but they all work cohesively, adding a visual energy to the sounds bursting from their amps.
The simplicity on stage and on the record is no accident, nor does the stripped-back nature of the songs exist due to musical comfort or ability. BODEGA is a band acutely focused on their sound and critiquing themselves. After the show, Belfiglio told me that during practice, "for every 30 minutes we play, we have two hours of discussion."
Hozie and Belfiglio take turns both singing and interacting with the crowd. "I hate to be obnoxious," Hozie states after the first song, "but could I ask everyone to move closer? We'll all have a better time that way." He's right. An innate charm pours out of him, covering for a slight tuning mishap with a quick joke. Meanwhile, Belfiglio gives $20 to a fan for volunteering, saying she doesn't want to take Canadian currency back across the border. They even take requests, happily jumping into "Jack in Titanic" when the crowd shouts it out.
BODEGA is a band firing on all cylinders, and while it might be easy to dismiss their music as minimal, that's entirely the point. They are a band with keen self-awareness, calculated laser focus, and that desire to continually analyze their own process is galvanizing the art-punk movement once again.
Their dedication and talent materialize in their live performance, while Endless Scroll is the beginning of what appears to be a discography of classics in the making. Vancouver, undoubtedly, will be much less cautious when BODEGA, their computer mice, and their energy, return in the future.