Like the state tree it's named for, this Baltimore duo seems destined for big things. On their latest album, Civilian, Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack chart new territory that's both harsh and sensitive, rock and folk, head and heart. The record's title-track centerpiece captures the essence of a band going through changes and leaves behind some of the folky harmonicas and jangle of last year's My Neighbor/My Creator EP. Civilian's driving indie rock is mixed with equal parts self-consciousness and aggression. Wasner's voice kicks just enough ass to hold its own during noisier moments, and Stack's percussion can be understated or unorthodox. When Wasner wails, "I wanted to love you like my mother's mother's mothers did," she nails the band's simultaneous interest in and discomfort with the past. It's not about gimmicks, it's about finding home. — Lydia Munnell
With Buried Wires and How to Breathe Underwater. 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, August 3. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $12, $10 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Outfitting pop-punk in black guyliner, dark thoughts, and a heart dripping from the cuff of its sleeve, Alkaline Trio revel in theatricality and metaphor. Frontman Matt Skiba is a sharp writer whose lyrical savvy extends beyond the occasionally overwrought symbolism, displaying a playful wit that leavens the melodrama. They've perfected their music into a powerful elixir that's punchy and cinematic, like a heroic coming-of-age story set in grimy alleys beneath forbidding skies, which pretty much describes the life of former Chicago bike messenger Skiba. About a year after starting Alkaline Trio in 1996, bassist Dan Andriano joined, forming the band's core writing-singing duo. Drummer Derek Grant's addition shortly after the release of 2001's From Here to Infirmary solidified the lineup. Their latest album, Damnesia, gives the unplugged treatment to many of the group's best songs. Even stripped of artifice and volume, they remain powerful. — Chris Parker
With Smoking Popes and River City Extension. 8 p.m. Friday, August 5. House of Blues. Tickets: $21, $18 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or visit houseofblues.com.
Fresh off a tour with her part-time band the New Pornographers, Neko Case is spending some of the summer on the road playing her terrific mix of torch and twang. Her sets reach back more than a decade, but most of the songs come from her latest and best album, 2009's excellent Middle Cyclone. Case's voice is a big and beautiful thing in concert, capable of moving from an old-fashioned croon to a punky shout with the speed of a twister. She tends to have more fun on the road with the Pornographers, where she can just hang as part of the super scenery. Solo, she's more forceful and in control, winding through her dark and twisty songs like an animal on the prowl. It's no surprise that Case can be sexy and scary in a single breath — she plays it that way. And it's no surprise that her concerts are the perfect showcase for her talents. Case seems to really like Cleveland, so maybe she'll treat us to a couple new songs too. — Gallucci
With Doug Paisley. 8 p.m. Tuesday, August 9. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $30; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Ringworm are one of the most ferocious bands Cleveland has ever spit out. Like their peers in Integrity, these knuckle-draggers combine hardcore, thrash, and a dash of death metal into a grinding, face-bashing sonic storm that's kept them around for two decades. Singer James "Human Furnace" Bulloch, the only remaining original member, leaves most hardcore shouters in the dust with a flame-thrower voice that matches the rest of the band's gallop down a road paved with shattered human skulls. On their new album, Scars, Ringworm reach a frightening level of rage; Bulloch sounds like he's fronting the band to keep himself from punching out strangers on the street. Occasionally, the music slows down to a tempo that recalls Seasons in the Abyss-era Slayer. Still, Ringworm's ultra-crushing metalcore is far more powerful than the breakdown-slathered, keyboard-stained screamo that's all the rage at Warped Tour this year. — Phil Freeman
With Nails, Bitter End, and New Lows. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 9. Peabody's. Tickets: $10; call 216-776-9999 or visit peabodys.com.
Bob Dylan's Never Ending Tour is starting to look like it actually will go on forever, isn't it? The 70-year-old singer-songwriter launched his miles-amassing show 13 years ago, and it's steadily been rolling along ever since, occasionally slowing down for a record here and there. Does it really matter that Dylan's latest album is now two years old? Or that Together Through Life really isn't all that great, considering the three masterpieces that came before it? Nope. Doesn't matter one bit. Because nobody is going to a Bob Dylan show to hear songs he wrote after 1975. They're going to hear "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue," "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall," and "Desolation Row," all of which he's playing on the current leg of the tour. There are very few surprises at Dylan's shows anymore. He plays keyboards rather than guitars, and his sets lean toward the classic and familiar — even if they don't quite sound like they used to. The guy's earned the right to do whatever the hell he wants. — Michael Gallucci
With Leon Russell. 8 p.m. Saturday, August 6. Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. Tickets: $37.50-$67.50; call 440-247-2722 or visit livenation.com.
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