Blind Pilot have come a long way since 2008, when drummer Ryan Dobrowski and singer-guitarist Israel Nebeker hooked up mini-trailers to their bicycles and headed out on a West Coast tour. Since then, they've released two albums and added four more members. What started as a small spark between two friends has become a full-time folk-pop group that radiates the sort of warmth that transports fans to the coastal town of Astoria, Oregon, where Dobrowski and Nebeker wrote their very first songs. Even though their live shows are lively affairs, the gracious and humble Blind Pilot are still the type of band that blushes when an audience member shouts out, "We wanna party with you!" Onstage, ballads are accented by trumpet solos and vibraphone fills, and occasionally interrupted by more upbeat numbers like "Keep You Right" and "We Are the Tide," which they recently performed on Letterman. Who knew their bikes could carry them so far? — Danielle Sills
With the Barr Brothers. 7:30 p.m. Thursday, February 9. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $15; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Twenty-five-year-old Emancipator (who was born Doug Appling) is the new savior of downtempo. He weaves a web of mellow electronica — thick with strings, pianos, and hypnotic beats — that are just as comforting as a gooey grilled cheese sandwich in the chilling cold of winter. It's highly emotional for instrumental music. While Emancipator certainly provides some upbeat moments in his sets, this is electronic music for a calmer crowd — a welcome change of pace for those tired of dubstep. His latest record, 2010's Safe in the Steep Cliffs, recalls DJ Shadow's early-career trip-hop, but with more complex arrangements and instrumentation. But comparisons don't do the Portland, Oregon producer justice: His epic soundscapes are one of a kind and multidimensional in a genre that can get repetitious. It's gonna be a night of absolute chill inside the Beachland Ballroom when Emancipator comes to town this weekend. — Eddie Fleisher
With Little People and Natasha Kmeto. 8:30 p.m. Friday, February 10. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $15, $12 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Like so many of today's pop stars, 15-year-old Australian heartthrob Cody Simpson got his big break online. A series of YouTube videos he posted of himself in his bedroom singing songs by Jason Mraz and Justin Timberlake attracted the attention of someone in the dwindling music biz, and now the dude is huge. Just like Justin Bieber! And like the Biebs, Simpson has a soft and barely pubescent voice that causes middle-school girls to collapse into puddles of tears. None of the songs on his breakthrough EP from last year, Coast to Coast, gets more complicated than "Baby, it's not just you/You know it hurts me too," and like so many teen stars before him, Simpson flirts with the camera in a way that says there's no way he's ever going to commit to any sort of substantial career. But all of those millions of YouTube and Facebook hits certainly add up to something, even if it's a touring company of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in five years or so. — Michael Gallucci
With Jessica Jarrell. 4:30 p.m. Saturday, February 11. Grog Shop. Sold out; call
216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.
Most of the country was introduced to Dia Frampton through her second-place finish on last year's inaugural season of The Voice. Her bio listed her as a children's story author, but indie-rock fans knew Frampton for her work in Meg & Dia, the group she formed with her sister in 2004. Meg & Dia have played three consecutive Warped Tours and released four albums and a series of EPs, but it was The Voice that vaulted Dia into the public eye. She initially auditioned for the show as a way to promote Meg & Dia's latest album, Cocoon, which came out last year. Her unexpected runner-up status earned her a contract, resulting in a debut solo record called Red, which features appearances from sister Meg and their band. Dia has been opening for her Voice coach Blake Shelton, but she's been filling in off nights with club dates, like this Valentine's Day show at the Grog Shop this week. — Brian Baker
With Andrew Allen and Leah Lou. 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, February 14. Grog Shop. Tickets: $15; call 216-321-5588 or >visit grogshop.gs.
WJCU's 2012 Radiothon Benefit Concert
You'll be sacrificing your ears at this weekend's metal blowout at the Beachland — and for a good cause: 100 percent of the proceeds benefit WJCU 88.7 FM, John Carroll University's independent (and totally kick-ass) radio station. Metal on Metal host and Auburn Records president Bill Peters put together the bill, which features local metal bands the Suede Brothers (pictured), Red Giant, Venomin James, Lotus Pedal, and the Del Rio Bandits — all regulars on Peters' weekly Friday-night broadcasts. "It's a well-known fact in music-industry circles that Cleveland has the best college-radio scene anywhere in the world," says Peters. (A second benefit show with Shok Paris and others is scheduled for February 17 at the Foundry in Lakewood.) Last year's Radiothon netted almost $40,000 — a sweet chunk of change for an industry that's dying almost as quickly as newspapers and magazines. The school funds only a small portion of the nonprofit station's operating costs. You don't want to listen to commercial radio, do you? "These bands have few radio outlets to have their music heard and their shows promoted," says Peters. "College radio is their last refuge." — Gallucci
With the Suede Brothers, Red Giant, Venomin James, Lotus Pedal, and the Del Rio Bandits. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, February 11. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $5; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
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