“It was delicious,” was how Farley T. Katz ’06 chose to describe Ben Kweller’s Saturday night concert at the Paradise Rock Club. The combination of infectiously fun music and Kweller’s endearing boy-next-door charm was more than enough to win over the Paradise’s already sold-out crowd. One part bubbles, two parts rock and roll, the band served up a kiddie cocktail that got everyone a little tipsy.
After a plethora of technical difficulties and an opening set by the pleasantly forgettable Boston-based band Space Shots, Kweller loped on stage and grinned up through his bangs: “Finally!” Plunking out the opening notes of “Sha Sha” on his keyboard, the 20-year-old Kweller looked about 14—and kind of like the kid in Almost Famous. Osh-Kosh looks can be deceiving, however; Kweller is more Beatles than Hansen. With songs like “Commerce, TX,” with lyrics like “I got a bad flavor / I got dirty clothes / I got a strange neighbor / Who doesn’t have curtains on her windows,” his songs are catchy enough to be fun, but original enough not to be annoying.
An enthusiastic rendition of their single “Wasted and Ready” got things moving—nothing catches on like the angelic Kweller yelling the chorus: “She is a slut but her ex thinks its sexy / Sex reminds her of eating spaghetti / I’m wasted but I’m ready.” Other rock ‘n’ roll numbers were equally energetic, while Kweller’s solos, like “Panamanian Girl,” added a dash of appealing melancholy to the otherwise goofy evening.
“Fries or rings,” he read aloud, holding up a cardboard carton of Burger King fries, in a moment of reflection. “Life is about choices…” Kweller kept the quips coming all evening, all good fun and good manners. In response to fan mail during a break to fix his amp, he mused, “We have a budding artist in the audience…do we have any budding guitar techs in the audience?” The audience received helpful hints on how not to turn on a keyboard, and onstage courtesy: “Friends don’t tune with their backs turned…towards friends...”
By the end of the concert—a finale of “No Reason”—everyone had decided that they wanted to take him home in a shoebox. Unfortunately, fans will have to settle for the album, Sha Sha, or the album he’s putting together with Weezer, AM Radio and Phantom Planet to benefit Petra Hayden, the singer of That Dog who was injured in a car accident. You can also catch him when he goes on tour with The Strokes later this year. You better hurry because BK mania is catching on—as Dustin S. Hodges ’06 hollered at the show: “We really like you, Ben! I mean really, really really really!”