San Diego's Crocodiles may remind you of a few other primal garage-rock duos who trade in raw guitars and even rawer emotions. But there's a little more subtlety to their bash-and-run. For one thing, you can hear a lot of the Jesus and Mary Chain in their echo, reverb, and songs that sound like they blew in from the '60s. And while there's plenty of riffing on their latest album, Sleep Forever, there are also monster hooks that swallow pretty much everything in their path. Brandon Welchez and Charles Rowell don't shy away from the art-rock tag either. Given the time, room, and space, they'll carry on with their guitars and mountains of feedback until something (inspiration? patience?) eventually gives out. It can make their two albums a bit of a roller-coaster ride. But onstage, with a full band, Crocodiles weave a noise-rock tapestry that's as exciting as it is deafening. — Michael Gallucci
With Beach Stav and Library Time. 9 p.m. Thursday, April 21. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $10, $8 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or go to beachlandballroom.com.
Stew and the Negro Problem
Black men ski. It's something Stew would like you to know. If stereotyping has caused the L.A. singer-songwriter-playwright to shrug and wince over the years, those snap judgments are also the source of many of his witty musical indictments. Mark Stewart can deftly deal out the race card for laughs, but he also casts a much wider lyrical net. His songs often play out as sketches that ground his humor and intelligence in uncomplicated humanity. Stew's career began 14 years ago with the Negro Problem's debut album. Rock posturing aside, his signature sound is breezy, sophisticated pop. His autobiographical musical Passing Strange hit Broadway in 2008, snagged seven Tony nominations, and took the award for Best Book. Stew's punk-bars-to-Broadway-stage odyssey is the subject of his current show, Making It, which arrives this week as part of FusionFest. — Duane Verh
8 p.m. Thursday, April 21, and 9:30 p.m. Friday, April 22, and Saturday, April 23. Baxter Theater at Cleveland Play House. Tickets: $25; call 216-795-7000 or go to clevelandplayhouse.com.
Flesh-N-Bone was the final piece to the Bone Thugs-n-Harmony puzzle. Originally a foursome known as B.O.N.E. Enterprise, the Cleveland group made the name change after adding Flesh, Layzie's older brother. After the success of Bone's E. 1999 Eternal in 1995, Flesh was the first member to go solo a year later. But his momentum stalled when he was sent to prison in 2000 on an assault charge. When he was released eight years later, he was more than ready to start rhyming again. "They picked me up in a tour bus and we went straight to work," he says. Flesh spent his time in prison converting to Islam and writing about it. "[It] influenced my newer material," he says. "An artist reflects their experiences." Despite a few recent legal bumps — including being arrested on a warrant during a show at House of Blues last year — the rapper has a new solo album, Blaze of Glory, and a group legacy to preserve. Says Flesh: "We changed the game forever." — Eddie Fleisher
9 p.m. Friday, April 22. Phantasy. Tickets: $10; call 216-228-6300 or go to phantasyconcertclub.net.
The Missing have spent the past four years tweaking their sound. They started as a solo acoustic project but turned into a punk quartet. On their third album, City of Curses, the Cleveland hard rockers calibrate their aggressive style of guitar rock to include some radio-friendly sounds. Frontman Christopher Marinin says the album, which the Missing will premiere at a CD-release show this weekend, "picks up where Mushroomhead and Chimaira fell off." The result is a volatile cocktail of alt-rock, metal, punk, heartland rock, and even a little pop. The record wraps around your head like firewater, swirling with pristine production, twisted percussion, gnarly guitars, and Marinin's scowls. Live, it's still a rock & roll circus, moving from drunken sing-alongs to mosh-pit frenzy to disgruntled audience members throwing beer cans. "It's a no-bullshit rock set," says Marinin. "We probably aren't going to talk too much. You will see a real rock show." — Keith Gribbins
With Battlestar, Trap House Rave!, Cantankerous Dingos, and Tweaktronic. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 23. Peabody's. Tickets: $12, $10 in advance; call 216-776-9999 or go to peabodys.com.
The Joy Formidable
The Big Roar, the debut album by Welsh trio the Joy Formidable, is not only one of the year's best records, it's also the most accurately named. It starts grand, with "The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie" building layer after layer of guitars, feedback, and assorted noises for almost eight minutes, until it all comes crashing down. And then it rebuilds and never lets up. Frontwoman Ritzy Bryan is a fireball, howling, wailing, and tearing through songs as if "loud" is the only setting she knows. The Joy Formidable's style of indie rock can be deceiving. It owes a lot to '90s dream-pop, but once Bryan zeroes in on her guitar's effect pedals and her two bandmates fill in whatever few spaces she leaves open, it takes on a totally different shade. This is guitar rock that earns both parts of that label. — Gallucci
With Lonely Forest and Mhmm. 8 p.m. Tuesday, April 26. Grog Shop. Tickets: $10; call 216-321-5588 or go to grogshop.gs.
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