Quite simply, the answer to the question above has got to be "hell, no!" Last Friday night's show at the Metro was my fourth time seeing Ben Kweller and, no matter what size venue he plays, the result is always the same ñ a great show. The last time I saw him, BK had filled the intimate room at Schubas and, save for an impromptu rendition of "Kokomo," his set consisted entirely of songs from his solo debut, Sha Sha. This time around, BK sold out the much larger Metro and tested out some new material along the way.
The sold-out Metro crowd consisted of little BK-look-alike teeny-boppers, drunken frat dudes, hipsters, and, of course, the local industry contingency. This diverse group was all out in force and celebrated their love for Ben in their own individual ways. The kiddies dress up like Ben Kweller. Their long, uncombed hair falling just above their eyebrows, while their Converse All Stars and thrift store Ts seem to say, "my mom may have dropped me off at the front door, but I still know what's cool, man." I wandered the first floor for a bit and found a large gang of drunken frat dudes singing along to "Family Tree." Who would have thought? They looked even more excited to see Ben than to see the buy one pitcher get one free sign at Hooters. The hipster crowd only nodded their head in support of Ben, sometimes clapping between songs (but not to enthusiastically and especially not for "Wasted And Ready" because that song's on the radio, so it's not cool anymore). No matter what group I jokingly pigeonhole every single member of the packed house into, all were there for the same reason I was ñ because Ben Kweller fucking rocks and when he comes to visit, chances are good that it's the best thing happening in town that night.
Most of Ben's debut, Sha Sha, was performed throughout the night. He kicked things off with the title track, then ran though "Commerce, TX" and "Make It Up" before getting to a pair of great new songs. The first, was a late '70s hard rock-sounding ditty, complete with loud, heavy guitars, and blazing guitar solos. Then, immediately after, Ben dipped into his bag of tricks for another new tune. This song was a down tempo, Willie Nelson-esque, country tune for which Ben busted out a harmonica and acoustic guitar. If I was interpreting the lyrics properly, it was a love song that reassured his girl of the strength of their relationship even though the two were going to be apart for a while. The song's conversational lyrics were great and the fact that he can play two new songs (back to back) in two totally different styles makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Ben Kweller has had the same band with him since he was on tour with Dashboard Confessional over a year ago. Their time together has really paid off and the guys sound tighter than ever. Even after the fourth time seeing BK and company in support of Sha Sha, I still had a blast. The best part is that Ben did too.