Banquet of the Spirits played several sets at the Stone as part of Cyro Baptista's week-long residency. The core band is a quartet consisting of bandleader Cyro Baptista on percussion and vocals; Brian Marsella on keyboards, Tim Keiper on drums, and Shanir Blumenkranz on bass, oud, and gimbri. During the four sets they did during the residency, they were joined by several special guests including Nels Cline (guitar), John Lee (guitar) and Peter Apfelbaum (horns).
Tuesday night's early set with Nels Cline was a loud, heavy powerhouse of a concert, and the small venue was about as crowded as I've ever seen it. It was actually such an intense musical experience that I decided to leave after one set because I didn't think I could handle another one!
Thursday's sets with John Lee and Peter Apfelbaum were still intense but also lighter, more melodic, and more fun. The intensity came less from power and noise and more from the ecstatic live music experience that you get from a band that is 100% on point with a room full of people who can truly appreciate what they're doing. While some concerts wear you out, I found this night to be energizing and uplifting. So many different kinds of musical fun, between the homemade musical instruments (like some kind of percussive pipe organ made from PVC and plywood), the percussion back-and-forth between Tim and Cyro, the manic keyboard solos from Brian Marsella, Apfelbaum's fantastic melodic sax solos... and I think my favorite moment of the night was the interplay between John Lee and Shanir Blumenkranz (on guitar and bass, respectively) during the last piece before the encore during one of the sets.
It seems like Banquet of the Spirits is a band on top of their game right now, and I hope they get more chances to play out very soon - I'll be first in line to see them again!