Ben Kweller / Adam Green / Troubled Hubble - live in Dekalb, IL (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Ben Kweller / Adam Green / Troubled Hubble

live in Dekalb, IL (2002)

live show

Who would have thought a rock show would start promptly at the scheduled time?! My girl Cara and I arrived on campus at Northern Illinois University on Thursday, November 21st at 7:30, a half hour late. We thought we may have missed a little bit, but we actually missed all of locals Troubled Hubble's set. I really wanted to see these guys again, because I was impressed when I saw them when my band played with them all the way in Omaha Nebraska last summer. They play punk-meets-Dismemberment Plan style power funk, well at least that's how I would describe it, and it's good no matter what you would dub it. They put on quite a show, and one thing I recall from this summer was a driving instrumental drum and bass song, where the guitarists grabbed shakers and other percussion and just went nuts. Sorry I missed your set guys, so I'll throw everyone your link so they can check you out.

Adam Green, who is touring with BK, was up next. He played an entirely solo set with the exception of one song where BK's drummer and guitarist (who played bass) joined him. He basically played folk music, but with some stuff you wouldn't expect like sudden starts and stops, and filthy lyrics. Well, not all filthy, mostly just lots of quirky humor that made his set quite enjoyable. He remained serious the entire set, which made it even funnier. It wasn't hit-you-over-the-head humor, more like the kind where you just turn to whoever you are with and exchange a look of "did he just sing what I think he did?"

Now, the man we were here to see, Ben Kweller. He is the twenty-year-old amazing songwriter who manages to do everything well, from Weezer-ish power pop, Ben Folds type piano rockers and heartfelt ballads, all with lyrics that are rarely this great from young musicians. He started his set by himself on acoustic guitar with his version if "Ice, Ice, Baby," which he apparently does at every show, but I found incredible anyways. By the end of it he was joined by his band, who he never introduced. I wish he would have, so I could have known if any of them were the musicians on his CD. Also, I feel it's rude not to give your back-up band some credit.

Most of his set was from his spectacular album, "Sha Sha," which was to be expected, and they started off (after Vanilla Ice) with "Walk on Me" a slightly cheesy yet rockin' tune. Ben Kweller went from acoustic and electric guitar to keyboard piano throughout the set, and I was impressed with his playing on all levels, including vocals and stage presence. He was shy in between songs, but still quite funny. When playing, he was all over the place, and managed to break a string on the electric during the set.

The songs were very well done live, and they manage to cover things from the CD that I didn't expect. For example, the French horn part on "Wasted & Ready" was covered quite well by the second guitar, and percussion like maracas and tambourine were also played to stay true to the CD. All the background vocals were done very well by the backup band, and the bass player covered the falsetto stuff with ease. They played "No Reason" last, and included an extended intro and a sweet solo section where BK and his other guitarist traded off solos, and then they quieted it down a bit before exploding into the last chorus.

For an encore, he came on by himself first and played "Lizzy," his beautiful folk-ballad, which I was glad he didn't skip for the live show. Overall, they ended up playing every song from "Sha Sha" except "Family Tree," and they played a couple extras, one called "Launch Ramp" from "EP Phone Home," (which I must find) and two others I did not recognize. They may be new material and both were pretty good. For the last song, BK called for Adam Green to come to stage, with no results. He ended up having to go fetch him personally from wherever he was hiding, and then together on vocals with BK's live band, they played a fun rendition of "Kokomo" by the Beach Boys. The only real downside of the whole set were the sound guys, who managed to get this unwanted echo thing going on BK's vocals, which was quite apparent when he sang loudest, or when the music just wasn't loud enough to cover up the echo.

So, Troubled Hubble- missed ‘em and wish I didn't.

Adam Green- quirky folk that was entertaining, not sure if I will pick up his disc though.

Ben Kweller-Everyone should check out this guy's CD, and if you already own it, see him live, you won't be disappointed!