Bottom Lounge – Chicago, IL
Most Tuesday nights for me are spent finishing up home work that I’ve put off since the previous week’s class. Fortunately, Ben Kweller and his Aussie friend, Whitley, hijacked my night turning it into something more than a night to make up for my procrastination. Needless to say, Mr. BK plays a good live show…
Ok, so that’s the understatement of the year: Ben Kweller plays a phenomenal live show. Most artists strive to sound as good live as they do on CD but Ben has something else to worry about; he sounds better live than he does on CD.
BK’s new disc, How Ya Lookin’ Southbound, Come In…, infused the live show with steel guitars and a welcomed southern twang. I know, some of you may be skeptical but I promise there’s a whole new dynamic with the live show. Not only does it work, it works brilliantly.
After skipping the line of fans stretching close to a block, I was able to sit down with Mr. BK himself . We talked about the past (Radish), the present (How Ya Lookin’ Southbound, Come In…,) and the future (Changing Horses.) Look for the interview in a few days.
The show opened with Whitley, an Australian singer-songwriter I had the pleasure of seeing last year. He kept his set short and sweet while maintaining a level of intimacy with the crowd. The time between songs was filled by talking to the crowd and an impromptu song about “the gout” that was plaguing his knee. He didn’t hesitate when a member of the audience called him out on his glasses, asking, “Where’d you get your glasses, Walmart?” Whitley replied “Yeah, I got them in the dickhead aisle, where you obviously shop.” Before ending his set with “Head First Down,” he made sure to apologize to that dickhead, more than once. He even apologized again after he finished, which shows a lot about his character.
Shortly after, Ben took the stage, kicking off the set with a track from the new EP, “Things I Like to Do.” After the second song, “Fight,” I knew we were in for a night of new songs, which was a treat. Highlights of the night were new tunes, “Sawdust Man,” and “Gypsy Rosalita” while older tunes, “Sundress” and “This is War” anchored the show. After walking off stage briefly, BK returned to the stage to play a rockin’ version of “Penny on the Train Track.” The photo of Ben rockin’ out was taken during that song.
Photos of Ben Kweller: