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The shows you need to see this week

Active Child

Active Child is the creation of Pat Grossi, a New Jersey native now living in L.A. Much has been made of his classic choirboy training, which has come in handy over the years as he's developed his mystical, ghostly sound. The band's debut album, You Are All I See, came out last month and is stuffed with haunting indie-pop noise informed by all the usual indie-rock benchmarks, like Radiohead and Bon Iver. Grossi marries polished laptop synths with his echoing voice throughout. But check out Active Child's latest single, "Hanging On," for a quick primer. The song manages to get all light and airy around Grossi's ethereal vocals as the brooding lyrics relate the story of a promising relationship gone awry. In the end, Grossi chooses to take the high road, settling for shrugging indifference rather than raging anger. It's a fresh take on an old subject that reflects Grossi and his band's main appeal. — Logan Boggs

With Chad Valley, Les Cousins Dangeroux, and DJ Melanie Saves. 9 p.m. Thursday, September 8. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $10, $8 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.

Flatfoot 56

A shot of frenzied punk madness mixed with potent Celtic punch gives Chicago's Flatfoot 56 enough balls to dropkick Murphy straight out the door. For the past decade, the three Bawinkel brothers and crew have spat out their rebellious matters of working-class hardships over the course of five solid albums. The band's latest record, last year's Black Thorn, adds mandolin-stirred surfer swag to songs like "The Hourglass." Traditional bagpipes and angry rasps combine with the sweat of all the hardworking men and women on the planet for some raucous Irish punk. The band's 2004 outing, Knuckles Up, included a bad-ass head-banging cover of "Amazing Grace," which led to an expanding fan base and a couple of cameos on the equally bad-ass TV show Sons of Anarchy. Flatfoot 56 haven't reached Dropkick Murphys or even Flogging Molly heights yet, but it's only a matter of time before you'll be raising pints of Guinness to them. — Phil Barnes

7:30 p.m. Friday, September 16. Pirates Cove. Tickets: $10; call 216-776-9999 or visit peabodys.com.

They Might Be Giants

After nearly 30 years, John Flansburgh and John Linnell have made good on their band's name. Today, they are goliaths of goofy alt-rock. Their third album, 1990's Flood, is a modern classic. Their theme song for Malcolm in the Middle, "Boss of Me," won a Grammy in 2002. And since 2005 they've released three children's albums, picking up another Grammy for Here Come the 123s. With Linnell wielding an accordion and Flansburgh swinging a guitar, the duo has toured almost every college campus in the country, their live performances doubling as rowdy sing-along parties. They Might Be Giants even have a really good new album, Join Us, a hooky 18-song set that's as weird and wonderful as anything they've ever done. Songs like "You Probably Get That a Lot" and "In Fact" split the difference between Talking Heads and "Weird Al" Yankovic, adding up to conclusive evidence that the Johns are indeed musical giants. — Keith Gribbins

With Jonathan Coulton. 8 p.m. Friday, September 16. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $25; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.

Motion City Soundtrack

Ever since their 2002 debut I Am a Movie, Motion City Soundtrack have balanced pop's melodic jaunt, punk's visceral punch, and new wave's jittery cool. Using equal measures of bracing guitars and soaring synths, the Minneapolis quintet has turned out a string of energetic and satisfying records, especially their engaging second album, 2005's Commit This to Memory, which was produced by Blink-182's Mark Hoppus. Even though 2007's Even If It Kills Me is more deliberately creative, the set suffers from a lack of spontaneity. But last year's My Dinosaur Life (once again produced by Hoppus) marks a bristling return to synth-and-guitar form, featuring some of the band's most diverse songwriting. Their two-show stop at House of Blues next week is part of the 4 Albums, 2 Nights, 7 Cities tour, a limited-run ramp-up to a more extensive and conventional road show that launches next month. — Brian Baker

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, September 20, and Wednesday, September 21. House of Blues. Tickets: $27.50-$50; call 216-523-2583 or visit houseofblues.com.

Foo Fighters

Of course you can't tell the difference between Foo Fighters songs. That's not the point. The point is the borderline-metallic crunch that's layered on top of the band's semi-melodic swing. After 16 years of ups, downs, inner-band turmoil, and misfired albums, Dave Grohl seems to have finally found the nirvana he's been searching for on the Foos' seventh album, Wasting Light, which came out earlier this year. It's their best record since 1997's The Colour and the Shape, and proof that solid drive and crushing guitar assaults go a long way toward disguising the songs' shortcomings (like the band's lack of hooks and Grohl's tendency to tear his larynx rather than, you know, sing). And if you haven't seen the Foos' new documentary Back and Forth, try to before their show here, just so you can get some perspective on what it took for them to get to where they are now. It's a hell of a story. — Michael Gallucci

With Rise Against and Mariachi el Bronx. 7 p.m. Tuesday, September 20. Quicken Loans Arena. Tickets: $29.50-$49.50; call 888-894-9424 or visit theqarena.com.

Under the Radar

Singer-songwriter Mason Jennings found inspiration for his latest album, Minnesota, right in front of him. Recorded at his home studio, the nine-song set is all about growing up and old with family and friends. It's Jennings' most personal album, weaving stories about life's Big Issues into a tapestry of hope. He plays the Beachland on Sunday. — Michael Gallucci

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