Vampire Weekend are in between albums now. But they're prepping for their first appearance in almost two years at this weekend's Pitchfork Festival in Chicago with a pair of smaller shows in Indianapolis and Cleveland this week. Their Cleveland show, at House of Blues, quickly sold out, but you can probably snag a ticket online from one of those places that always seems to have a shitload of them laying around. The band hasn't leaked much info about its upcoming third album, which they're still writing. So you probably won't hear more than a couple of new tunes onstage. (Vampire Weekend's last two albums, 2008's self-titled debut and 2010's Contra, both came out in January, so we're guessing the new one might be released sometime very early next year.) So expect a set filled with a bunch of songs from the two albums you can buy now. Members of the group have been busy with solo records, so the Cleveland show, the first of the practice run, might have some bumps. But we'll dig it all the same. — Michael Gallucci
8 p.m. Thursday, July 12. House of Blues. Tickets: $32-$40; call 216-523-2583 or visit houseofblues.com.
>Ra Ra Riot
Your summer might be filled with baseball games, cookouts, and fireworks, but that's probably because you're not in a busy touring rock band. If you were, your summer months would most likely be occupied by playing music festivals of all shapes and sizes. It's what groups – from indie to major to million-selling to nobodies – do during the warm months instead of making records. Syracuse-based indie rockers Ra Ra Riot are taking a short break from recording their follow-up to 2010's The Orchard by playing a few festival shows this summer. The Orchard is a more difficult record than the band's 2008 full-length debut The Rhumb Line, but it's nonetheless a smart, thoughtful, and worldly slice of chamber-pop highlighted by songs like "Too Dramatic." And they're made for concert stages. Fans take note: Ra Ra Riot's gig this weekend at Musica in Akron is one of the very few opportunities to see the band outside of one of those festivals this summer. So cozy on up to this intimate performance. — Chris Drabick
With Way Yes and the Big Sweet. 9 p.m. Saturday, July 14. Musica, Akron. Tickets: $14.99; call 330-374-1114 or visit ticketweb.com.
Is there a more hated band on the planet than Nickelback? When music fans start an online petition to boot you from the big game's halftime show on Thanksgiving Day or, more recently, someone invents a Facebook app that lets you know which of your friends "like" Nickelback so you can mock them for not having your tastes in artsy indie rock, there really isn't all that much further to sink. Even at their peak, the far more despicable Creed weren't reviled as much as Nickelback are now. (Hell, at least Nickelback laughed off the Thanksgiving petition, even making a funny video about it. No way that douchebag in Creed would ever do that.) What is it about the band that causes people to hurl insults that are usually reserved for third-world dictators and various Kardashians? It probably has something to do with the stripper-pole-ready bro-rock the band has been delivering for more than 15 years now. Whatever it is, we bet some of your Facebook friends will be at their show this week. — Gallucci
If we didn't know better, we'd call Toby Keith's most recent album, last year's Clancy's Tavern, a concept record about getting shitfaced drunk. But the 51-year-old country superstar has been down this blurry road before. It just seems more prevalent now, with songs like the title track, "Beers Ago," and of course, the ubiquitous "Red Solo Cup" angling for eartime. The dude is unapologetically country and American. And his concert this weekend should be more roadhouse than wine bar. — Gallucci
With Brantley Gilbert and Thomas Rhett. 7 p.m. Friday, July 13. Blossom Music Center. Tickets: $20-$84.75.
Dick Dale was one of Leo Fender's original product testers, a gig that served him well when he became King of the Surf Guitar in the '60s. He's also one rock's first studio bartenders, mixing reverb and tonal effects to whip up cocktails he often topped with world-music histrionics. The cancer survivor had three months to live at one point, but beat the odds and soldiers on, still defining a genre and imparting staccato joy with his music, including the rough-tumbling Pulp Fiction fave "Misirlou." — Peter Chakerian
8 p.m. Saturday, July 14. Grog Shop. Tickets: $23, $20 in advance.
Bradford Cox may be Deerhunter's hardest-working member, but don't discount Lockett Pundt, Cox's Deerhunter bandmate and high school friend from Atlanta. Just as Cox has Atlas Sound as a side project, Pundt has Lotus Plaza. His second album, Spooky Action at a Distance, is a far more confident recording than 2009's debut, The Floodlight Collective. It also demands more attention from start to finish, especially in the chiming "Strangers" and the strident "White Galactic Way." — Drabick
With Hollow Stars and Voxcaster. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, July 15. Grog Shop. Tickets: $10.
These Danish teens sound like nothing else in 2012. They don't even sound like anything from the 21st century. Reaching back more than 30 years to post-punk's great revolution for inspiration, the quartet stuffs its debut album New Brigade with the minor-chord brooding, deep-cavern echo, and over-the-mountain percussion rolls that were all the rage before the Smiths brought some jangle to the music in the early '80s. Black eyeliner isn't required, but it's definitely part of the dark scenery. — Gallucci
With Pleasure Leftists and Black Puddle Noise. 9 p.m. Tuesday, July 17. Now That's Class. Tickets: $8.
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