Ben Kweller Croatian Cultural Centre, Vancouver BC - February 13, 2003

Ben Kweller Croatian Cultural Centre, Vancouver BC - February 13, 2003
For all the maturity of Ben Kweller's newest batch of melodious masterpieces from his Sha Sha CD, it wasn't hard to forget at this particular show that the Brooklyn-based connoisseur of pop is only 21. Blame it on the gymnasium-like atmosphere of the venue, complete with spinning disco ball lights, or on the throng of screaming girls with an average age of 15. Not that Kweller should be blamed for his show feeling like a junior high sock hop, though he made little attempt to counteract the adolescent vibe. In full slacker mode, he and his three shaggy cronies slouched and flopped their way between constant guitar and piano switcheroos, while Kweller seemed at a loss for any word other than "shit" when mumbling to his adoring fans who screamed things like, "Ben, I want your children!" whenever the music stopped. Luckily, that wasn't too often. The set kicked off with the piano-laden title track "How It Should Be (Sha Sha)" and continued through much of Kweller's stellar recent work, mirroring to the dime the versions found on Sha Sha. A brief and frenetic departure from sugar-coated melody occurred midway through the set when the band revisited songs off Kweller's two earlier EPs — angsty ditties written during the interim between the break-up of his former grunge band Radish and his current incarnation as a brilliant whiz kid who wears his Pavement and Weezer influences on his sleeve. Sure, he hasn't quite come into his own yet, but when the show came to a tumultuous close with the rollicking first single "Wasted and Ready," one was left with the feeling that there are only good things coming around the mountain for this Texas-born prince of pop.