My week at the 9:30 Club ended with Ben Kweller on Friday night.
I thought Lissy Rosemont from Junior League Band was going to open the show, but she brought the rest of the band with her. I’ve been hearing good things about the band for months. But I was honestly a bit underwhelmed. It was mediocre bluegrass. I love me some bluegrass, so I was content with that for an opening band, but I don’t get what all the fuss is about.
Ben Kweller, on the other hand, was superb. He didn’t have a backing band, so it was just him on stage alternating between an acoustic guitar and a piano. But even with the guitar, he still rocked all of his distortion effects so the sound was still full and aggressive. The piano tracks actually sounded better without the backing band. Some of the guitar songs would have been better with drums and whatnot, but it was still pretty good. Kweller is the type to jump around stage frantically, so this wasn’t your average singer-songwriter performs songs on his acoustic guitar show.
I’ve loved his work for so long and hadn’t seen him live before, so my dream set list was pretty long. Luckily Kweller performed for two hours so he covered pretty much everything that I wanted to hear. He took requests leading up to the show via Facebook and Twitter and added in a bunch of requests from folks in the crowd, including his stellar covers of “Drug Buddy” and “Ice, Ice Baby.” On “Until I Die,” he invited audience members on stage to jangle their keys as percussion. Check out video of the song here. He also lead the crowd through the harmonies for “Family Tree” before ending his set with the classic “Wasted and Ready.” He did a two song encore of “Fight” (featuring Lissy Rosemont and the fiddle player from Junior League Band) and “Penny on the Train Track.” “Falling” and “On My Way” were the highlights of the set for me. And Ben’s awesome mullet, obvi.
BYT review and pictures here.