Things got a touch sentimental Friday night (Nov. 22) at the sixth annual B3nson Funsgiving. The event is the collective’s biggest and most cohesive gathering of the year, aside from Restoration Festival, and is something of a Thanksgiving institution at Valentine’s. With the venue’s booking set to expire at the end of the year with the building’s impending demolition, as owner Howard Glassman turns his attention to his new building on Central Avenue, this marked the final Funsgiving at Valentine’s and made proper use of the venue’s two floors and stages.
After six years, certain B3nson traditions have only grown stronger. The beard contest was robust (B3nson was celebrating Movember long before it was a thing), with some especially industrious entries in the women’s crocheted category. And, while many B3nson bands have dissolved and reformulated over the years, the crowd was treated to a rare reconstitution of Aaron Smith’s Scientific Maps. Relative newcomers included Katie Hammon’s folk-rock Bear Grass and power trio Hammer Hawk, featuring former members of Beware! The Other Head of Science. That band’s chief mad scientist—and the scene’s James Murphy—Matt Ferguson has packed all his trademark synthesizers, smoke machine, bullhorn and confetti cannon into Rival Galaxies, who set the bar high for party-hearty dance music only halfway through the night.
“Just take a minute to soak it all in,” he suggested of the auspicious evening during a rare break in his band’s set.
Downstairs, the Parlor continued the recent B3nson adoption of electric guitars and dance grooves. Almost exclusively playing new material from their forthcoming record, the band put vocalist Jen O’Connor out front of dance anthems Nile Rodgers would be proud of. It seems that no one was safe from Daft Punk’s disco blitzkrieg this year.
Sgt. Dunbar and the Hobo Banned brought Funsgiving back to its classic roots in narrative song and sing-along folk rock, with Dan Pardee taking his place at the keys and vocal duties migrating around the stage. The festivities culminated with a rowdy set from Barons in the Attic upstairs. There’s no indication that this will be the last B3nson Family Funsgiving, but it’s certainly the end of an era. There are still plenty of opportunities to pay your rock respects to Valentine’s before its all over. Don’t slouch.