“If Sha Sha is Coca Cola…On My Way is whisky,” promised the cherubic Ben Kweller, clad in an all-denim ensemble on the second night (July 31) of his three-night residency at Brooklyn’s Southpaw. Following a set from the perpetually disheveled, quirky crooner Adam Green, a mix of locals in madras shorts and flip flops, glassy-eyed preteen girls, and the occasional eight year old, clutched their complimentary lyric books to their hearts, and awaited the Tom Petty-like balladry, coming of age story that Kweller admitted, is all about the city that never sleeps.
“My Apartment” was the first to make believers out of everyone as mad shout outs to the F-train (woo!), his cat (Kweller’s veterinarian was in attendance), and New York being “the place/where the sidewalks know my face” were dished to an exuberant audience. Shifting gears dramatically to title track, “On My Way,” cell phone cameras poised as fans gathered together for a swaying, sing-along festival of love about killing men with karate and women that make hats with their hands.
For the encore, Kweller re-entered carrying a large cardboard box emblazoned with his logo. “This is the On My Way raffle”, he informed the crowd. “So stick your hand inside and we’ll see what we’ve got.” Three lucky audience members pulled out the final set list — “Got A Song Until I Die”, “Harriet’s Got a Song” and closer ‘Red Eye”. For a second Kweller looked worried. “Dude, do we even have the triangle?”
“I’m gonna leave you with a little blues in your mouth,” Kweller offered as the band slid into “Red Eye,” a song about returning on a jet plane to possibly break someone’s heart. Voice breaking with Ryan Adams-style baby’s, Kweller shut his eyes to repeat the wistful coda, “You know I hate the way/Your love don’t stay.” Having too much fun to leave the stage, the band played on with a series of stone cold, bluesy guitar solos and bass lines that allowed Park Slope to morph into Memphis, Tennessee, if only for a second. “I’ll be on my way now…thank you,” he concluded.
We Asked:Ben Kweller’s treated us to a full serving of On My Way. But if you had the power to have him cover any album, which one would you choose?