Friday, 5 March 2010

560 Mull Historical Society, BEN KWELLER, Oxford Zodiac, Tuesday 28 May 2002

John Dragonetti of Jack Drag, hosts of our last gig, had tipped me off that former Gigolo Aunts sticksman Fred Eltringham was playing drums for Ben Kweller, so I took the opportunity of a local BK gig and a spare evening, with Rachel off on a training course, to check it out for myself!

Hit the venue at 8, picking up a BK fanzine on the way in, thus discovering that Boston friend EdV's roommate Josh Lattanzi was also playing in Ben's band! So I waited down the front, meeting Ben in the process, before the Lord of Eltringham wandered across the hall. So I took the opportunity to tap him on the shoulder and say, "so if you're here, who's drumming for the Gigolo Aunts on their current Spanish tour?" Luckily Fred remembered me and greeted me with a warm handshake, as he told me Velvet Crush's Ric Menck was drumming for the Aunts! Chilled with the big guy before Josh walked past; greeted this amiable chap with a hug and caught up awhile before they went back to prepare for the show.

So, the show! Ben Kweller came on at 8.30, bounding onstage with a huge acoustic guitar and his usual buoyant verve. After a quirky solo opener, name-checking "Ice Ice Baby" and Snoop Doggy Dogg (!), he was joined by the band, and kicked off a surprisingly splendid set. I've checked Ben out solo a couple of times of late, and his stuff has been fun and melodic, but rather lightweight. This all changed with the addition of the band, this treatment really bringing out the best in the songs with which I was already familiar. Ben, backed by these boys, seemed a more confident performer, and led the crew through a dynamically played set; in fact, a few of the more unfamiliar numbers towards the end of the set had the guitar punch and huge hooks of "Phaseshifter" era Redd Kross, no less!

Having no interest whatsoever in the Mull Historical Society (they had their chance last May and blew it), I hung around awhile, joining a throng in buying a BK CD from the merch stand, then headed outside, hanging out with Josh and Fred, chatting about mine and Rachel's forthcoming Boston trip, and helping them load up their gear! Also got to chat with Ben, a surprisingly modest young man who appreciated the Redd Kross comparison and agreed with me that a band made his music soar. Headed home after farewell hugs from the guys, after a night of good company and unexpectedly good rock!

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