Meet the Bengsons, a couple and band recognized by indie music lovers and the New York Times alike for their “raw honesty and sincere righteousness” as well as their musical prowess. Their songs range from folksy to ethereal to rock, and a few things in between.
The band debuted a folk-rock odyssey, part play, part musical, part concert, at Z Space. On Tuesday night, they’re coming back to release the album, 100 Days, that came out of the production in a benefit to keep Z Space around and producing plays.
100 Days tells the story of two lovers about to be parted by terminal illness who decide to live their last days together to the fullest. The event will feature a performance as well as dinner, drinks, and general revelry.
Abigail and Shaun Bengson gave Mission Local some insight into the production and the fundraiser:
Mission Local: Tell us about Hundred Days. It seems to bend the rules a bit – musical theater, concert, art, and genre-defying music come together in one performance. How would you describe the result, and how did you put it together?
The Bengsons: This show and music is really the work of our whole hearts and something we’ve been working on since we fell in love and began writing music together. It is loosely set up as a concert but it grows and expands from there, and we’ve gotten to work with the most wonderful team as we’ve built this music/theater/dance/thing that we love.
ML:Looks like you as a musical team as well as Hundred Days have had some success since its debut at Z Space. How has the show evolved since then? How has your musical style evolved?
TB: Thank you! It’s been a good growingful year. We are definitely learning a lot very quickly and just doing our best to keep up and keep trying to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Abigail was in the Tune-Yards last year and we both traveled with them a lot and just got to immerse ourselves in that world of music, hearing tons of bands and really steeping ourselves in it all. It was a tremendous education! It also really gave ourselves the courage to try and let the sound of our music be exactly as specific and as strange as it wants to be and a lot of that fed into the arrangements on the new album.
ML: It sounds like Hundred Days has a bittersweet underdone, since it’s a story of lovers parted by illness and ultimately, of loss. What are some elements of hope and inspirations for finding joy in the moment in Hundred Days?
TB: We feel like however much time you get with the one you love it will never be enough, whether you have three months together or 40 years so the story for us is about really trying to live and appreciate life now, not to be consumed in worry for the future. Of course we aren’t quite able to do that ourselves, but it’s that pursuit, that celebration of life of life that we are trying to teach ourselves through this work.
ML: San Francisco’s art scene is feeling a lot of loss too right now, and many artists and arts organizations have the sense that their days are numbered. I know the evening will support Z-space, but beyond that, do you have any hopeful messages for the Mission’s art scene?
TB: The artistic community of the Bay Area is absolutely one of the most deeply inspiring we’ve ever encountered and we are so grateful to get to be any part of it. There are Real heroes battling to keep doors open and keep artists fed and we are happy to pay even this small tribute to them.
ML: What made Z Space a good fit for the debut, and what brings you back for this performance?
TB: Because Z Space is not only one of the most gorgeous performance spaces we’ve ever seen, it is run by the bravest, most talented, kindest folks around. This place is home for us and we hope that we get to keep coming back for years to come.
ML: Finally, get us pumped for this show! What are some things you’re excited for at this event and in your performance?
We’re playing with some of the best musicians in town and we are so excited to celebrate the album at this incredible space. We love everyone involved and are so proud to show them off!
For more information and tickets, visit Z Space on the web, and listen below for a sample of the music of 100 Days: