50 Years of Boston Rock: The Bentmen return to the stage after an eight year hiatus


Earlier this week we updated the remaining schedule of the massive, multi-venue, nearly-100-band 50 Years of Boston Rock extravaganza, WMBR Pipeline’s celebration of 25 years of local rock radio. One addition to the lineup jumped out more than the others: a listing for the Bentmen, playing Sunday at Brighton Music Hall at 8 p.m., tucked neatly between sets by Men & Volts and the Flies.

First thought: “Welcome back, Bentmen.”

Second thought: “Sorry about the stage, Flies.”


There’s definitely a joke in there somewhere about the Bentmen’s performance-art live show attracting flies, but the setup is even better. The legendary Boston rock carnival band is back on stage after an eight-year hiatus.

“I retired after my brain surgery which was right after the last show at the Middle East in 2006,” says Bentmen ringleader and frontman William “Des” Desmond, owner of the Sound Museum Rehearsal Complexes in Brighton and Cambridge. “But we thought this should be a good music fest that had many great bands from the past — our past. We also decided to do the show because of the recent passing of one of our guitarists, Jeff Friedman, so we are going to dedicate the show to his memory.”

Over the past few decades, the Bentmen, who were honored by the Boston Music Awards in 2009 (see video below), developed a reputation as kings of the city’s underground music scene, combining performance art, rock and roll, and stage theatrics like no others in town. So it’s interesting to see them smack-dab in the middle of a six-band lineup, with 30 minutes of stage prep time before their show, and 15 minutes allotted for “cleanup.”

“This is something that we don’t do normally, as the restraints of too many bands to set up is a logistical nightmare for a band like the Bentmen,” adds Des. “We have trimmed it way down to fit it all in. For example, we normally take three hours to set the show up and now we can only have 30 minutes! This is a challenge to say the least. But if we can edit the show and still bring the goods, we will be able to do multi-band shows in the future, which would be fun.”

There still will be a spectacle, Des promises, but as with most of the 50 Years Of Boston Rock shows, it’ll also be reflective, celebratory, and about the music.

“Costumes, electronics … they all take time to set up to completely over take a club,” says Des. “That has always been our way. You lose the smoke n’ mirrors when you haven’t the time to have a stage crew work the stage to transform it to our bent desires. So at this show, with its many restraints, we will have to bring it mostly with the music! That was a bit of a challenge for us, as well, considering the many years we’ve laid in rust. I was worried until after the third rehearsal, then it started to come together again like the old days! The band is sounding monstrous! If the sound people have it together over there, and I’m sure they do, we will blow the fucking paint off the place. That’s our goal.”

Relive the magic after the info jump.

50 YEARS OF BOSTON ROCK WITH THE BENTMEN + THE F.U.’S / STRAWDOGS + THE NERVOUS EATERS + MEN & VOLTS + THE FLIES + ANASTASIA SCREAMED :: Sunday, September 28 @ Brighton Music Hall, 158 Brighton Ave., Allston :: 4 p.m., 18-plus, $22 :: Advance Tickets :: Set times below

SHOW #7: September 28 @ Brighton Music Hall
5:00 – 5:40 The F.U.’s / Strawdogs (split set)
5:55 – 6:35 The Nervous Eaters
6:50 – 7:30 Men & Volts
8:00 – 8:40 Bentmen
8:55 – 9:35 The Flies
9:50 – 10:30 Anastasia Screamed

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