Pete Yorn | 2.27.11

The only downside of Ben Kweller’s fantastic performance is that it made Pete Yorn’s set seem less powerful in comparison.




The Pageant, St. Louis

The crowd for Pete Yorn’s show at The Pageant on February 27th was excited, but low key as they filed in to the venue.  The show wasn’t quite packed, but it was definitely crowded with people interested in hearing both Pete, but also Ben Kweller, a name I heard mentioned several times before the show had even started – he was obviously not unknown to fans of Pete’s music.  As I was moving to the pit area before the show started, I saw a security guard hand a piece of paper to someone entering the door backstage.  Apparently a fan had handed him a song request and he had promised to send it back.  The person who was handed the request must have delivered it, because Pete did in fact play the song, “Girl Like You,” during his set later that evening. 

The first act was a duo called The Wellspring, comprised of Dov Rosenblatt and Talia Osteen.  It would be futile to try to describe their roles in the band, as both played multiple instruments, and shared lead vocals. Their song set was short, but enjoyable.  The duo started when Talia was going through a rough breakup and sent a bunch of poetry to Dov, and their musical relationship grew from there.  They have a self-titled EP out now, but will be releasing a full album later this year. 

Ben Kweller is an artist that’s been performing for over half his life – and considering he’s not yet 30, that’s fairly impressive.  He’s obviously spent all of that time perfecting his craft because his set was one of the best performances I’ve seen in recent memory.  He was alone on stage, but made up for it by playing almost every instrument at one point or another – moving from guitar to piano to harmonica, all while handling the vocals.  He joked at one point that he was singing his own backup (and did a few times, switching between the lead and backing vocals that were on recorded versions of the songs).  He was in St. Louis recently – playing at Off Broadway in November of last year – and compared sing-a-longs.  He declared The Pageant the eventual winner, though his comments about Off Broadway brought on some good-natured heckling from the crowd.  He ended with a mini-medley of “Penny On The Train Tracks” and “Wasted & Ready” after the crowd couldn’t come to a conclusion of which one they’d rather hear more. 

The only downside of Ben Kweller’s fantastic performance is that it made Pete Yorn’s set seem less powerful in comparison.  Ben and Pete performed on the same stage, but Ben managed to master it, whereas Pete seemed to be using it as a place to play some songs.  Perhaps this is partly due to Ben performing solo while Pete played with a band, but in any case, there was a contrast before the two sets that didn’t fall in Pete’s favor.  This is not to say that Yorn doesn’t put on a great show – he does – and the fact that so much of the set came from his first album, musicforthemorningafter, did him no disservice.  The newer songs are good – the rendition of Precious Stone from the most recent album, Pete Yorn, was noticeably well-played – but Pete is an artist where the majority of fans seem to have been with him for a long time and ignoring that fact would not have been wise.  They seemed to enjoy his performance, though, both the new songs and old, and it’s clear why he comes here so often. | Teresa Montgomery



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