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BENEE // Live @ Cafe 939 // 10.22.19

Photos by: Andrew Kopanski // Article by: Emily Wheeler


Boston, MA – Auckland native Stella Bennett, A.K.A. BENEE /ˈbɛniː/ has been producing music since 2017, though at her start her musical presence was limited primarily to Soundcloud. A true testament to the power of the D.I.Y. movement, her music was soon picked up by producer/musician Josh Fountain, with whom she released her singles “Tough Guy” (2017) and “Soaked” (2019). While her journey (and song titles) are somewhat mirrored by those of Billie Eilish, the two young sensations couldn’t be more different.

Benee’s music as recorded is richly textured and heavily driven by digital backing tracks. The concertgoer, however, experiences this music in an entirely new way. Without computer generated beats and the crisp equalization of a mastered track, Benee’s music becomes more of an all-consuming, whole-body experience. Her conservatively dressed ensemble, consisting of guitar, bass, synth/keys, and drums convert Benee’s recordings into a music much more tactile and external.

Binki opened the show with silly, loose antics. The North Carolina based rap artist performed solo, accompanied by tracks he cued up from his on-stage Macbook. Relatively new to the scene, Binki is ever experimenting and brave in trying new things on stage. The audience was reluctant to jam along at first, but when he got to the chorus of “Seasick,” the crowd was certainly convinced.

As far as stage presence is concerned, BENEE owns her platform with a style all her own.  from dancing robotically during the intro music to making silly faces at her bandmates and listeners as she sings, her quirky-yet-cool demeanor shows in every moment. Adorably, her vibrant setlists were handwritten in washable marker, adorned with colorful doodles of flowers and leaves.  There’s no sense of a diva when it comes to Benee’s presentation, which makes this young star even more likable and relatable.

As BENEE took a water break between songs, she took time to ask questions about her audience at Cafe 939, mostly college students at the adjoined Berklee College of Music. What did they study? Did they have class today? The nineteen-year-old pop star mentioned that this would be her final show in the U.S. for the current tour, but that she would be in the States for another week of so. One voice piped up from within the crowd “Do you want to stay in my dorm?!” Intimate moments between peers on either side of the stage branded the rest of the concert experience.

Benee’s headed “down under” for a few more shows but will be swinging back into the U.S. in December. Check out her tour dates here.

Andrew Kopanski
Andrew is a Boston based photographer who's interest in photography blends effortlessly with his passion for live music. Whether he's in the pit or in the GA section, Andrew enjoys being up front for live performances.

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