Unlike Ric Ocasek and the rest of the country, Northeast Ohio has forgiven Todd Rundgren for the New Cars. It stands to reason: Rundgren’s regional following is as famous as he is. So naturally he would get a free pass for the money-siphoning ruse of playing complete albums in concert. Last year, Rundgren pulled into Akron for a short tour celebrating 1973’s A Wizard, a True Star. To up the nostalgia factor, a Utopia lineup even opened the show. This year, Rundgren and his longtime sidemen Jesse Gress, Kasim Sulton, and Prairie Prince return to the Rubber City for readings of Healing and Todd cover-to-cover — the first time both albums have been played that way. With perfectionism and business acumen dictating most artistic “direction” these days, Rundgren is likely to provide great rock theater as well as some nostalgia. And why not? Everyone from Roger Waters to Aerosmith to Rush (Moving Pictures live in 2010, but no Cleveland date?) is cashing in on their biggest albums. For his part, Rundgren could do anything — even take his talents to South Beach — with little criticism from one of his largest fan bases. — Peter Chakerian
Todd Rundgren. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, September 5. Akron Civic Theatre. Tickets: $25-$175; call 330-253-2488 or go to ticketmaster.com.
A Wilhelm Scream
Why is it that the most technically adept artists seem interested in playing only abrasive metal or avant-garde music? These virtuosos' albums are often displays of freeform flamboyance rather than showcases of spot-on songwriting. But Massachusetts punks A Wilhelm Scream are capable of writing tight little tunes and giving their fret boards a serious workout. The band combines accelerated, finger-blurring riffing, dynamic shifts clipped with deadly accuracy, and singer Nuno Pereira's melodic shouts and clever lyrical snipes. The quintet packs its songs with multiple sounds and concepts, and has roots in skate-punk, melodic hardcore, and even tech-metal. But they synthesize all these sounds into a signature cadence. The band's four albums and a recently released EP reveal a group that can spotlight chops without falling back on cryptic reference points. The finger-tapping guitar runs, breakneck rhythms, and complex instrumental bridges are balanced by harmonizing vocals and recognizable choruses. In other words: A Wilhelm Scream challenge themselves without challenging your patience. — Matt Whelihan
>A Wilhelm Scream, with Bass Line Bums, Heads Held High, and Ultra Ultra. 7 p.m. Thursday, September 2. Now That's Class. Tickets: $8; call 216-221-8576 or go to nowthatsclass.net.
Since forming at the University of Pennsylvania in 1995, the Disco Biscuits have become the kings of trance fusion. But it seems a little trite to stuff them into just this one category. In a way, the Disco Biscuits have no boundaries. Over the past 15 years, they've injected their music with elements of electronica, jazz, hip-hop, pop, rock, and pretty much anything else that's passed their ears. On its latest album, Planet Anthem, the group branches out even further, collaborating with producers who've helped shape recent records by Ludacris, Chris Brown, and the Black Keys. But the stage is where the Disco Biscuits really come alive. For all of the musical tags thrown at them, the Biscuits are primarily a jam band — one that stretches its otherwise concise songs to ten-plus minutes onstage. So get ready to zone out and lose yourself in sound when the band comes to town this week. — Jordan Zirm
Disco Biscuits, with Papadosio. 8 p.m. Thursday, September 2. House of Blues. Tickets: $23, $20 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or go to houseofblues.com.
Rock of Ages, Featuring Alice Cooper
Alice Cooper, the godfather of all theatrical rockers, doesn't get to headline arenas, sell truckloads of merchandise, or star in soda commercials like his bastard offspring Kiss. Instead, he's headlining a show at the home of the Lake County's minor-league baseball team. But Cooper's greatest songs — "No More Mr. Nice Guy," "I'm Eighteen," and "School's Out" — are way more enduring than anything Gene Simmons' band has turned out. He's also carved out a diverse and impressive empire as the host of a nationally syndicated nightly radio show, restaurant owner, and author of a book about golf, all while watching disciples like Marilyn Manson come and go. More important: After an extended mid-career dalliance with conformity (where he tried to keep up with pop-metal trends), Cooper strung together a triumphant if somewhat unheralded return to form over the past decade. He's released a series of consistently strong, concept-driven albums, including his most recent, 2008's Along Came a Spider. Of course in Alice's wonderland, the music is just part of the show. He's always taken extra care to deliver an over-the-top concert with narrative, snakes, and blood. His current trek is no exception: Cooper meets his demise onstage via guillotines, gallows, and other torture devices. Opening is a band made up of guys who were in Rare Earth, Sugarloaf, Blues Image, and Iron Butterfly, so you may not want to get there too early. — Matthew Wilkening
Rock of Ages, featuring Alice Cooper. 7 p.m. Friday, September 3. Classic Park, Eastlake. Tickets: $24.50-$44.50; call 440-954-9467 or go to captainsbaseball.com.
Young Widows may call Louisville home, but one listen to the band's noise-rock discography will surely bring Chicago to mind. For starters, you can hear shades of the Jesus Lizard in the way guitarist Evan Patterson abuses his instrument. The noises he strangles from his guitar are sharp and dissonant cries for help — mangled, clipped, and damaged. Patterson never goes for the expected, but he seems intent on attacking each song from a stealthy musical angle. His vocals recall Shellac's Steve Albini — incensed but wry, like he's mad and has already cooked up some sort of revenge. But Young Widows aren't all pissy. They also sound grimy in an art-house kinda way. Bridges and breakdowns drift into psych-rock territory, as guitars moan and rhythms pulsate. This is where the band's rhythm section shines. Bassist Nick Thieneman's tone is massive and sultry, all power and sleaze that pushes songs to explosive climaxes or locks them into a hypnotic sway. Drummer Jeremy McMonigle holds things steady whenever Patterson runs wild, or he simply obliterates tracks with his loose-limbed pounding. But don't let all these comparisons mislead you. Young Widows not only evoke classic Chicago noise-rockers, they deserve a place next to them. — Whelihan
Young Widows, with Helms Alee and Wreck Havoc! 9 p.m. Tuesday, September 7. Grog Shop. Tickets: $8; call 216-321-5588 or go to grogshop.gs.
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