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Ben Kweller

You know Ben Kweller. He sings those quirky, plot-driven, charmingly angst-filled, Reality Bites soundtrack-worthy songs. Has a haircut like Beck's -- still don't know him?

There may be a few other guys who, at first glance, have the same overall acoustic-guitar-playing singer/songwriter gig going on as Mr. Kweller. Ben Folds and Ben Lee (with whom he's also collaborated on the Bens) for starters. But that's just at first glance. Kweller's rise to stardom, though premature in a Doogie Howser kind of way, has been no easy climb. After re-grouping from an over-hyped, under-appreciated release with now defunct band Radish (at the time he was only 15) Kweller decided to go it alone. First came 2000's Freak Out It's Ben Kweller album, followed by 2002's Sha Sha (ATO Records) marking his first significant attention-getter. The album's combination of sensitive reflection, catchy hooks and Dawson's Creek brand existentialism (musings like "butterflies are passive-aggressive and put their problems on the shelf") won him an audience of precocious self-searchers who knew their lyrical life coach when they heard him. After touring with everyone from Evan Dando to Dashboard Confessional to the Strokes, Kweller returns this year -- this time as headliner, for a tour promoting his older, wiser, On My Way.

Though traces of Kweller's college anthem-themed Sha Sha remain, On My Way treads post-grad ground. With his earnestness in tact, Kweller showcases a propensity for self-diagnosis that cuts straight to your heart. His subject matter may have matured (New York city living, 20-something relationships), but On My Way is just as full of 'la-la-las' as its predecessor. "Hospital Bed" rocks out as only Kweller can, while "Different but the Same" asserts Kweller's earnest tendency toward over-explanation (see: "You must rely on your own heart, cause nothing works the same or takes the blame or wins the game with your head in your hands in the pouring rain"). As a whole, On My Way is well on its way to winning more fans for the burgeining musician -- fans that will undoubtedly be in attendance at Kweller's upcoming show at the Fillmore.

Chances are, concertgoers may be showing up for yet another reason. Canadian indie-rockers The Unicorns serve as Kweller's opening act; a significant draw in their own right. As one of the bands "all the kids" have been listening to since their debut album Unicorns Are People Too (independently self-released), the lo-fi rockers earned a following with the one-two punch of their closely-following sophomore effort Who Will Cut Our Hair When We're Gone (released the very same year in fall 2003 by Alien8 ). Fostering an atmosphere full of inside-jokes at their concerts (with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, puppet shows and films regularly featuring in live shows), the Unicorns mix the sound of Pavement and the theatrics of the Flaming Lips with a brand of cutesy-morbidity that's all their own. Pairing Brothers Grimm themed lyrics with happy-go-lucky melodies, the clever pop-rockers have naturally selected a following of fans that are "on the level". Whether you're in the aforementioned group or just a Kweller groupie, it's unquestionably worth checking in for the pre-show.