Ben Kweller | 04.17.14

kwellerHaving made wonderfully catchy guitar pop songs for roughly half his life, it’s easy to forget that Kweller is actually a great guitarist.

 

 

Things kicked off with Kid Scientist, a local band that plays baroque indie dance pop, if that is even a sub-sub-genre. Most of the crowd seemed to know who they were, but this was a first for me. At the end of their all too brief forty minute set, I turned to the guy next to me and asked “What the hell was that? That was fantastic.” I love it when an opening act just kills it. They are incredibly fun to watch play, especially their very charismatic bass player.

Their songs are catchy as hell with a nice groove to them. They had a guest guitarist with them last night, sadly missed his name, but he was incredible and added several outstanding solos in a few of their songs that fit perfectly. I look forward to seeing these guys again.

Ben and the rest of his band came out, plugged in, and immediately blasted into “Commerce, TX”. Damn fine way to start things off. The rest of the set was a trip through his more well known songs including a guitar version of “Falling”. Surprisingly most of the set seemed heavy from Sha Sha, On My Way, and Ben Kweller. There were a few choice selections from Go Fly A Kite and Changing Horses. The only songs missing that would have made it a dream setlist was “No Reason” and “Harriet’s Got A Song”.

Having made wonderfully catchy guitar pop songs for roughly half his life, it’s easy to forget that Kweller is actually a great guitarist. Several songs he threw in some extended solos and jams on. At the beginning of his encore, it was just Ben and his guitar and he took requests from the audience. Several of the songs you can tell he hadn’t played in a while as he forgot the lyrics, which he handled well by chatting with the audience and got the right words and picked right back up where he left off. He even joked that on the way to town he thought about how he used to make fun of artists who used teleprompters but he now really would love one. They closed the night out with a ruckus version of “Penny On The Train Track.” Great set list that the audience really dug as there was a lot of singing along and dancing to.

Which brings me to my issues with the show. And it’s not because of the bands or Off Broadway, it was the crowd. The amount of LOUD conversation throughout the night was ridiculous. Several people around me were getting very agitated by it. I’m not sure what can be done about this but it really needs to stop as it seems to just keep getting worse. If you want to have a convo about absolutely nothing important, take it outside. Having to talk so loud so that your friend can hear you, and subsequently everyone around you, then maybe you should think about not talking. Maybe, just maybe?

As far as dancing….well…If you are at a rock concert and the only four dance moves you know belong to people whose names suggest they work on a stage, there are dollar bills being thrown at them, and there is a brass pole nearby, maybe you should think again about busting out those moves. Especially when you are making it very difficult for half of the audience to see the show because you are creating a pocket in the audience so you can bump & grind and drop it like it’s hot to “Wasted & Ready”. Look, I’m all for individuality and having a good time at a rock show, but when your Vegas night club moves are impeding on others ability to enjoy the show its time to stop. Several people actually left because of this. All in all, it was still great show regardless of the issues with elements of the crowd. | Michael Koehler

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