By Joseph Mazzola

Upon hearing that New York’s Tredici Bacci was playing Ciné in Athens this month, I joked to my friends, “Oh, first Water From Your Eyes and now Tredici Bacci? Is Ciné just the venue that New York bands play when they come through Athens?” Turns out that actually is what happened. Tredici Bacci is friends with Water From Your Eye, who put them in touch with Athens’ Primordial Void to book this show with Klark Sound and Organically Programmed. 

The show opened with Klark Sound performing a solo acoustic set. Here, Klark’s jazz pop was a stripped-down set with nothing but an acoustic guitar and his silky-smooth voice. The night ended with Organically Programmed, Oliver Domingo’s space-themed synthpop ensemble. Sandwiched in between these two acts was Tredici Bacci, a band from New York started by composer Simon Hanes in 2013. Tredici Bacci synthesizes elements of Italian film scores from the 1950s and ’60s—a clear an obvious influence for Hanes—with those of contemporary baroque pop and prog-rock, and more often than not, infusing the end result with the energy a truck barrelling down a highway.

Donned with colorful suits, striking patterns, and makeup that made them look like they had just gotten out of a street fight, the members of Tredici Bacci took the stage for the first show of their tour. You can immediately tell what they’re about. They opened with an operatic vocal performance from Sami Stevens, borrowing the melody from the Universal Studios Fanfare, before moving into a fast-paced guitar and horn driven song with souring violin atop. (I must confess that wind and string instruments in pop/rock music are a quick way to my heart, so I greatly enjoyed this performance.)

It’s not just an incredible energy and technical ability that Tredici Bacci brings to their performances, but an intelligence and focus in their playing. Tredici Bacci frequently uses mixed meters and irregular, shifting time signatures, and watching Hanes turn around to conduct the band is a performance in and of itself.

One high point of the show was their keyboardist playing the opening to “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion. Stevens started singing, and after a few lines, Hanes made a request: “Can I get a Star Wars on top of this?” This mash-up of “My Heart Will Go On” with the theme from Star Wars was, as far as I can tell, completely unrehearsed and spontaneous.

In past releases such as La Fine Del Futuro and Amore Per Tutti, Tredici Bacci had a light and fun temperament. This still comes through in their live shows—with a 9-person band, I think it’s hard for that not to—but newer Tredici Bacci seems to be expanding into more emotionally complex territory. Pitchfork writer Saby Reyes-Kulkarni called them “goofy, fun music” in 2016, but here? Tredici Bacci sounds angry! This show had Sami Stevens belting out the same syncopated note over chromatic contouring from the ensemble. This was Tredici Bacci sounding sorrowful, moody, and dramatic in ways not expressed on previous albums. Their upcoming LP, Brave New World, seems to be focusing on these more, and I’m excited to see what new spirits Brave New World will bring to the world of Tredici Bacci.

Tredici Bacci’s Brave New World will be released on March 31, 2024.

More information can be found on Simon Hanes’ website,