R. Kelly wants you to know that he loves the ladies. Not in the sex-with-minors way you'd think, but in a sensitive, golden-age-of-R&B sorta way. Swoon-worthy records have always been his game, but on his latest album, Love Letter, Kelly stamps and seals one big apology to all his female fans, begging behind Ray Charles shades to let him once again croon for them. With "Bump n' Grind" almost two decades old, it's easy to forget Kelly's achievements. From the "Trapped in the Closet" saga to his work with Aaliyah, Usher, and T. Pain, his résumé reads like a who's-who of contemporary R&B. While he isn't exactly charting new territory on Love Letter, it takes only one listen to songs like "When a Woman Loves" to hear the plodding arpeggios, muted horns, and even jazz flutes of yesteryear. But if classic soul imitations aren't your thing, don't worry. There's still nearly 20 years of sexy slow jams in his arsenal. — Lydia Munnell
With Keyshia Cole and Marsha Ambrosius. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, July 6. Cleveland State University Wolstein Center. Tickets: $47-$87; call 877-468-4946 or visit wolsteincenter.com.
They've been sued by their record company. They've released plenty of anthemic rock songs embraced by tons of mopey kids. And they've carried on after the death of a bandmate. Dayton-based Hawthorne Heights have been through a lot over the past decade. It almost all came to a stop after their guitarist died of a drug overdose on the band's tour bus in 2007. But the pop-punk screamo group returned with a renewed sense of urgency instead, following up its breakthrough album, If Only You Were Lonely, with a tougher one, 2008's Fragile Future. Last year's Skeletons takes their angsty sounds to some new sonic destinations, including brief forays into electronic and straight-up pop. But mostly they're back to the guitar-fueled headspace of their first two albums. From singer J.T. Woodruff's overenunciated croon to drummer Eron Bucciarelli's booming liquid stomp, Hawthorne Heights are making it sound like 2004 all over again. — Ryan Reed
With One Days Notice. 7 p.m. Friday, July 8. Peabody's. Tickets: $12, $10 in advance; call 216-776-9999 or visit peabodys.com.
Coventry Metal Fest
Metalheads will converge on the arty, indie community of Coventry this weekend for a massive two-day festival featuring 14 bands. Ruled by Reason, Unveiling Chaos, and Ruins of Takoah are among the groups smelting eardrums with their hardcore, death metal, metalcore, punk, and prog. "These two days will basically be a chance for bands to finally touch the Grog stage, bring out their dedicated fans, and soak in the Coventry atmosphere," says organizer Paul Kahan, frontman for the Dagger Rebellion, one of the few metal bands that has already played the rock-centric Grog. It's a great opportunity for indie kids to see some of Cleveland's finest metal from veterans like Solipsist (pictured) and Fallen Captive, and newer bands like RUIN and Halloween Candy. Kahan is particularly excited to see Cantankerous Dingos. "They are Cleveland's answer to Gwar, punk rock, and free burritos," he says. "In a year or two, they will be Cleveland legends." — Keith Gribbins
6 p.m. Saturday, July 9, and Sunday, July 10. Grog Shop. Tickets: $10; call 216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.
Gang Gang Dance
These New Yorkers used to be noisy, messy, and all the other adjectives N.Y.C. art punks make you think of. But like so many of their indie-rock peers, Gang Gang Dance have gotten more structured over the past few years, slipping genuine hooks and — gasp! — melodies into their songs. Their latest album, Eye Contact, builds on the usual slabs of guitars, dance-floor beats, and a fractured sense of reason in the discord. But there's also tighter polyrhythmic grooves, swelling synth runs, and a general embrace of old-fashioned songcraft. "Glass Jar," Eye Contact's opening track, shapes and reshapes itself over 11 monumental minutes before eventually collapsing into itself. We'd call it a perfect summer single if we didn't think Lizzi Bougatsos' free-falling vocals would confuse the hell out of some of your fellow beachgoers. Live, the band still plays up its artier side, swapping sweet sounds for thunderous rushes of noise. It's hard not to get caught up in it. — Gallucci
With Nguzunguzu and Total Freedom.
8 p.m. Monday, July 11. Grog Shop. Tickets: $12, $10 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.
We don't have any documented proof, and we want to stress that we're just speculating here, but we're pretty sure Sade made some sort of deal with the devil. How else to explain her appearance and music, both of which have remained relatively unchanged for more than a quarter-century. If you need further proof of the latter, check out the recently released Ultimate Collection, which includes 28 songs from her 27-year career. There's not much separating 1984's breakthrough hit "Smooth Operator" from last year's "Soldier of Love," except maybe "Soldier"'s militant, almost hip-hop beat, which is tougher than the smooth, jazzy, and timeless rhythms found on her debut album. And don't even get us started on how young the 52-year-old singer still looks. Sade doesn't hit the road often; in fact, she disappears for years at a time (last year's excellent Soldier of Love album was her first in 10 years). So you should check her out. It may be another decade before Satan lets her out again. — Michael Gallucci
With John Legend. 8 p.m. Saturday, July 9. Quicken Loans Arena.
Tickets: $49.50-$149.50; call 888-894-9424 or visit theqarena.com.
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