- Ben Kweller
Cat's Cradle—Though Ben Kweller was born in San Francisco, he spent most of his life in the small East Texas city of Greenville, surrounded by the commonwealth colloquialism of country music and his father's own classic pop records. When Nirvana broke big, Kweller picked up on the new sound and formed the post-grunge Radish. The band signed a major record deal and made the late-night television rounds before calling it quits in 1999. Kweller headed to New York with his girlfriend, Lizzy, self-releasing Sha Sha, a ragtag, large-hearted collection of tunes that asked for a little sympathy and vowed a little love in simplified Velvets-meets-Beatles numbers.
A few vintage pop albums and a side project with Bens Lee and Folds later, Kweller is back in Texas. He's a father of one now, married to Lizzy, and at long last playing pop songs dressed down in the country of his youth. Indeed, Kweller's fourth LP, appropriately titled Changing Horses, comes wrapped in pedal-steel licks, hot and shuffling rhythms and bustling acoustic guitars. It might be his most charming effort since Sha Sha, imbued as it is by affability and romanticism. "The world will make you lie/ The world will suck you dry," he sings via introduction, going on to tell us what he loves about the world, how strong his friends are and how he hopes to never do anyone harm. Sometimes clumsy but always contagious with his smile, Kweller finds a surprising renaissance in the basics of simple pop-country. Pay $16-$18 at 9 p.m. The Watson Twins open and will likely back Kweller with harmonies similar to those they added on Jenny Lewis' Rabbit Fur Coat. Let's just say you shouldn't rush dinner to catch their own songs, though. —Grayson Currin