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Review: Indie rocker Ben Kweller comes full circle for eager Columbus crowd

Amanda Abney / Lantern reporter

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The Basement is at maximum capacity with 300 people in attendance. The Ben Kweller show is sold out, and the crowd awaits the show in their different positions. Some crowd into the “pit” while others chill out on big red couches.

There is a sense of anticipation and electricity in the air.

The stage is set up with guitarist/pianist Rich Hinmin on stage left. Next to him is bassist Chris Morrissey. drummer Mark Stepro is set up toward the back of the stage, and Ben Kweller has a little piano to the far right and a microphone set up to the mid-right of the stage.

Kweller’s lyrics are poetic and his melodies are very catchy. This is the kind of show where people sway and sing along.

While listening, I close my eyes and I can almost see a young Paul McCartney singing and playing the guitar on stage. I can certainly hear The Beatles’ influence in Kweller’s music.

Kweller’s set begins with the hit single “Mean to Me” off his new album, “Go Fly a Kite.” The song title might make someone think that he’s singing about a girl, but the lyrics say otherwise.

“Don’t regret bein’ the ragged kid, don’t regret anything I ever did, cause I always knew where I’s coming from,” indicates that its more of a self-realization song.

Kweller is so down-to-earth that at one point, he actually stops the show to sing “Happy Birthday” to a young woman in the audience.

One song that gets the crowd’s attention is “Wasted and Ready.” The lyrics are almost comedic as he sings about a girl that is more sexually advanced than him.

In the middle of the set, Kweller’s amplifier to hook up his acoustic guitar goes out. He throws out a casual joke to make the audience laugh, and in minutes the problem is solved.

One song that really speaks to me is “Full Circle.” It is a combination of pop, country and folk. The lyrics, “Don’t judge anyone, because everybody comes full circle,” is what really sells me on the song.

The combination of the piano and harmonica was enough to give me chills during “Thirteen.” I can only guess he is singing about the love of his life. “And frequently, we ignored our love, but we could never mistake it,” are lyrics that could make any woman’s heart melt.

Not all of Kweller’s songs are about though love. The influence of classic rock is very evident in “Free,” a song off his new album “Go Fly a Kite.” After the song concludes, Kweller said he has decided “Free” is the band’s Lynyrd Skynyrd song, which the audience applauded in agreement.

Another song that stands out is “Penny on a Train Track” with its upbeat piano chords and catchy lyrics. “I wait, yeah, I wait for something good, for something great” are fantastic lyrics that made  sway along with the crowd. “Penny on a Train Track” also features a guitar solo by Kweller while Hinmin plays the piano.

All the band members have fantastic on-stage chemistry, especially Ohio-native drummer Stepro and Kweller.

Morrissey mostly keeps his eyes closed in concentration, every once in a while opening them to sing back up and look at the audience.

I really loved that Kweller performs solo to give the other band members a break. The fact that he plays multiple instruments and puts his heart and soul into the music makes him the ultimate musician.

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