by Jon Stone | @jwstone - February 28, 2011
"Man, it was a tease!" Ben Kweller told me after his too-short, 30-minute set Saturday night at the Canopy Club. The openers played long, and Kweller was only supposed to play until 10:30, cutting what I thought was going to be a double bill into a night that clearly favored the real headliner, Pete Yorn.
The snub would be less disappointing if BK didn't completely own the room while he was on, which he did. All by himself. With a old Epiphone Texan and a piano. Kweller has a way of making a mid-sized room like Canopy Club's feel like a coffee house. Conversational before playing a single note, Ben explained that he hadn't been feeling so hot, resorting to a puke bucket on stage at the previous night's show in Milwaukee. You'd never have known it, though. He opened with "Walk on Me," and "I Don't Know Why" pausing for a moment after each to chat and joke with fans. From there, Ben offered sonic glimpses of his superb four-LP catalog as the set whizzed by against what turned out to be a swiftly ticking clock. He didn't preview anything from the new album, Go Fly a Kite, out later this year. But it was a sweet, sing-along set regardless. The highlight came when one of my favorites, the ballad "Falling," modulated into the Beach Boys' "God Only Knows" and again into "Thirteen." Lovely stuff.
One song later, Ben was blowing kisses and apologizing for having to be done, clearly surprised that he was out of time. In our brief chat after the show, he reiterated his disappointment for the hasty exit: "Man! I so wanted to play 'Penny on the Railroad Tracks' or something else for y'all!" And it really was a letdown. I was left wondering who to blame. The cost of the show (over $20) seemed to indicate, as I said before, a double bill, with an up-and-coming opener (The Wellspring) and two headliners. Instead Kweller seemed subjugated to a between-acts crowd warmer. He deserved better.