Kweller gives uncompromising performance at LU

Christine Beaderstadt

Perhaps the most interesting part of Ben Kweller’s performance Sunday was his entrance. Kweller didn’t walk, strut, or run onto the stage, but skipped.
His surprisingly quirky entrance reflects the nature of his music: It is quirky and unique, a conglomeration of folk, piano ballads, country and catchy punk reminiscent of his days in the rock band Radish.
Kweller’s sophomore solo album, 2002’s “Sha Sha,” released two years after “Freak Out, It’s Ben Kweller,” is emblematic of these various styles. Kweller reflected, “I touched on all the ‘Ben Kweller’ aesthetics in ‘Sha Sha.'”
But by his third record, 2004’s “On My Way,” Kweller consciously chose to follow a narrower path, producing a consistent, cohesive sound. “I do what the songs tell me to do,” he said.
Instead of continuing as most artists do with a similar thematic sound, his next record will be a country album. Kweller, therefore, seems to have no uniformity.
Living the lifestyle of a touring musician what he refers to as becoming a “professional gypsy” he feels no need to fit the molds we place musicians in.
“I’m Ben Kweller. I’m not trying to be anybody else. I wouldn’t know what to do [otherwise],” he said. Even likening him to other artists proves difficult, because he is original and unpredictable.
“I feel lucky to have a really strong fan base,” he said, “but if they didn’t follow me I would still do what I do.”
Kweller’s first radio hit, “Wasted and Ready,” put him on the popular music scene, but he has yet to make a subsequent radio-friendly hit. Is this because his sound varies so much from record to record?
“I’m always trying to write songs that are memorable and draw the listener in,” he said. “It doesn’t bother me that I don’t have radio play . but I would like recognition. I’m not scared of fame like I used to be.”
But this is not his sole goal; he wants to “reach as many people as possible” but does not make music only to get airplay. This helps explain why his new self-titled album to be released September 2006 is more layered and acoustic that his previous records.
Intentionally evolving as a musician, Kweller is slowly grounding a permanent position in the music world. By remaining somewhat irregular and out of mainstream rock and roll, Kweller attracts a wide audience; as listeners, we eagerly look forward to what he will offer next.