Home / Headline News / Live Review: BODEGA at The Rockwell in Somerville, MA (04.19.24) 

Live Review: BODEGA at The Rockwell in Somerville, MA (04.19.24) 

New York City post-punk band BODEGA arrived to Somerville’s The Rockwell on Friday night to kick off night one of their expansive world tour. The cultural commentators are on tour in support of their third album, Our Brand Could Be Yr Life, out now via Chrysalis Records. 

The record is a partial rework of original material BODEGA’s two principal songwriters Ben Hozie and Nikki Belfiglio recorded in their apartment under their original name BODEGA BAY eight years ago. Despite its age, their lyrical content is just as prevalent as ever, with themes of consumerism and commercialism that assert them as voices of the counter-culture. 

With a release date of April 12, the group brought their new content to the stage in a rush of fervent sound and a room packed full of gyrating bodies. After opening sets from local groovers Boston Cream and New York rockers Big Bliss (fronted by Tim Race who joins BODEGA on bass for this tour), the crowd was prepped for a high energy set. 

BODEGA – completed by guitarist and lead vocalist Ben Hozie, vocalist Nikki Belfiglio, lead guitarist Dan Ryan, bassist Adam See and drummer Adam Shumski – kicked off their 22-song set with cultural commentary voiced over the speakers, followed by their raucous single “ATM.” The group, reminiscent of a 60s art house show, stood cast in the projection of a dollar bill while the audio bite droned on about the definition of success in the modern age.

“We have that authenticity you can sell,” it declared before the statement “to the corporate brand” was repeated into oblivion while the music kicked off. 

Tracks “Shiny New Model,” “Stain Gaze,” and “Tarkovski” all work to showcase the band’s artistic vision and art-punk direction. While some moments feel poignant and clever, (take “Warhol” and “GND Deity”) others fell a bit flat in their execution. 

“Bodega Bait,” one of many tracks that points toward the band’s name, stayed on brand with its introduction: “What is the difference between an artist and an advertiser?” Despite theme, its lyrical content and lackluster performance made it difficult for the audience to gage whether this portrayal of simplicity was intentional or uninspired. Lyrics “This is new BODEGA song / It’s not going to be very long / We’ve got so many things to sell you” felt unambiguous and out of character for the forward-thinking punks, who are often ten steps ahead, creatively.   

BODEGA’s backlash against the word “brand” in rock is itself a brand of sorts that they’re leveraging with full awareness. They hold their cards while flashing cheeky glimpses that border both sincerity and mimicry. It’s a prevalent topic in the music industry and BODEGA flaunt that sale-for-service ethos, though participating in their own way.

The five-piece unit remained tight throughout the night, with an embedded psych-rock groove that was held down with the driving force of the group’s rhythm section. Guitarist Dan Ryan stole the spotlight on many songs throughout the set, demonstrating the group’s live prowess that has garnered them widespread attention. With such word-of-mouth praise, it fell to the band’s detriment as they may have been shaking off nerves on the first night of the tour. 

Belgiflio’s vocals were constantly imperfect, yet in the roughened landscape of DIY rock, this is often a trivial matter. Her persistent personality led the show, with her demands and quips at the forefront of all else. Insisting the crowd come as close as physically possible to the stage, she ushered folks to enjoy the intimacy of the show, conducting the room with the point of her drum stick. She and Hozie alternate vocal duties, though it appeared that her contributions to the band lay more at the heart of their mission and its creative impulses.

Concluding the set with new number “City is Taken,” the group returned with an encore of the psychedelic jam rocker “Cultural Consumer III,” and fan favorites “Jack in Titanic” and “No Vanguard Revival.” The Brooklyn art-punks are embarking on a doom-scrolling journey of their own making, examining our modern day society through the lens of a band unafraid to question everything. The disposition of their art titillates with philosophical foreplay, teetering on the cusp of ironic and profound. As their tour debut showed, while their artistic direction is unwavering, the execution of showmanship could use some work — or is that the point? 

BODEGA are an enigma, but that’s exactly how they like it. Their aptly titled “Brand on the Run Tour” continues now through November in support of their brand new album, Our Brand Could Be Yr Life. 

BODEGA Online: Website | Instagram | Facebook | TikTok | Spotify | Apple Music

About Emma Furrier

Boston-based music writer and reviewer. Passionate about rock and roll, vinyl collecting, and any dog I’ve ever met.

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