Bob Glaudini’s play Jack Goes Boating is a gentle treatment of likeable regular people dealing with subjects that typically take the Bang and the Clatter Theatre down unsettling roads: date panic, marital meltdown and betrayal. But in this story of lower-middle class stoners, the human spirit ultimately wins out. The Bang and the Clatter opens its production at 8 tonight, with performances through August 22, at the Sometimes in the Silence Theater (224 Euclid Ave., 330.606.5317). Tickets: $15. — Michael Gill
I See Stars are weird, but they’re also kinda brilliant. The underage Michigan sextet’s debut CD, 3-D, throws screamo, disco beats and a vocoder into a sonic blender and comes up with something thoroughly schizophrenic but pleasurable in a way most modern metal can’t even imagine. They even feature Cleveland hip-hop legend Bizzy Bone as a guest star — he delivers a high-speed rap on the electro-club track “Sing This!” I See Stars’ songs shift at light speed — from mosh pit-friendly breakdowns to ’80s-style synth flourishes, from T-Pain-style Autotune crooning to screamo catharsis, from live drumming to programmed techno loops. It’s a sound only a bunch of caffeine-crazed teenagers could have created, and watching them try to pull it all together live is bound to be entertaining. Emarosa, Burden of a Day, About Last Night, In Fear and Faith, and Broadway open at 6 p.m. at Peabody’s (2045 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999). Tickets: $13. — Phil Freeman
Steve Earle’s debt to cult singer-songwriter Townes Van Zandt is immeasurable. Van Zandt championed Earle during his struggling-artist years, and Earle even named one of his sons after the troubled troubadour (who drank and drugged himself to death when he was 52). In a way, Earle’s entire career has been a tribute to Van Zandt — from his plaintive storytelling to his turbulent personal history. But Earle’s most recent album, Townes, is his first full-length tribute. The 15-track survey of Van Zandt’s finest compositions starts with a low-key version of his best-known song, “Pancho and Lefty,” a country hit for Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard in the ’80s. Throughout Townes, Earle shifts between solo acoustic retellings and band-assisted electric fury, sticking pretty close to Van Zandt’s templates. He’s at his best — like on the meditative “No Place to Fall” and “To Live Is to Fly” — when Van Zandt is at his best. Joe Purdy opens at 8 p.m. at the Kent Stage (175 E. Main St., 330.677.5005). Tickets: $30 advance, $33 day of show. — Michael Gallucci
There probably isn’t a more beautiful location in Northeast Ohio for outdoor theater than the lagoon at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens (714 N. Portage Path, Akron, 330.836.5533). That’s where the Ohio Shakespeare Festival makes its summer home. It just closed As You Like It, the first of its two productions this season. At 8 tonight, it polishes up the second, Romeo and Juliet, with an open dress rehearsal, which theater-loving bargain hunters can see for only $12. Two OSF veterans, Andrew Cruse and newly minted College of Wooster grad Tess Burgler, play the title roles. The gate opens at 6 p.m., so theatergoers can bring a picnic or buy something in the café to eat on the lawn or at one of the available picnic tables. There’s no reserved seating; just come and plunk yourself down. The play starts at 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays through August 16; tickets are $10-$27. Subsequent performances include a 7:30 p.m. “greenshow” — a pre-show entertainment from Shakespeare’s time that’s become an OSF tradition. For reservations, call 330.315.3287. — Anastasia Pantsios
Composer Stephen Schwartz was just a couple of years out of college and already had one Off-Broadway hit (Godspell) when Pippin premiered in 1972. The quasi-historical musical sets the life of Pippin the Hunchback to a score of ’70s-style pop music. It’s been a favorite of musical theaters and high schools ever since. But Cain Park’s big summer production should be better than that, since Victoria Bussert directs and Martin Cespedes choreographs. It opens at 7 tonight, with performances through August 23 at Cain Park’s Alma Theatre (14591 Superior Rd., Cleveland Hts., 216.371.3000). Tickets: $15-$24. — Michael Gill
The Presidents of the United States of America have never taken themselves all that seriously. Whether writing songs about peaches and, um, whatever “Lump” was about, the Seattle trio are a pretty lighthearted bunch. The Presidents have a special connection to Clevelanders, thanks to their cover of Ian Hunter’s “Cleveland Rocks,” which became The Drew Carey Show’s theme song. After meeting Carey backstage at The Rosie O’Donnell Show in 1996, the group was surprised to find out the comedian was an admirer. “He was an authentic fan,” says drummer Jason Finn. “We could tell because he quoted back to us a bunch of our lyrics.” Though they came from the same scene as dirty-grunge bands like Alice in Chains, PUSA gained success for standing out, not fitting in. They knew they made it when “Weird Al” Yankovic parodied their best-known song on “Gump.” Finn says it was a “huge honor,” noting that any musician who’d be offended by such a thing would have to be “pretty precious.” These days, the guys tour at their own pace, not when a record company tells them to. “We’re sort of a full-time part-time endeavor,” says Finn. “We like to fly into a place, play a gig, go home and still have the whole week to get yelled at by our wives and girlfriends." The Holes and Picklefight! open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $15 advance, $18 day of show. — Eddie Fleisher
Years before lonely-heart emo kids began making bedroom confessions about their broken-down love lives, Tim Kasher was there. The Cursive frontman has been releasing records for a dozen years now, chronicling the up-and-down affairs of his heart. He’s expanded his stories and sonic palette over the years (2006’s Happy Hollow was seeped in conceptual narrative), but he’s never sounded as grown up as he does on Mama, I’m Swollen, the band’s sixth album. Kasher is still introspective to a fault (“I Couldn’t Love You”), but he’s also exploring subjects somewhat alien to him (“Caveman” shakes his family tree and a Neanderthal falls out). Meanwhile, the rest of the guys in Cursive pile on riffs, instruments and blasts of noise that underline the gravity of Kasher’s words. He still doesn’t have any answers about what makes men and women tick, but now that he’s in his 30s, he has a better understanding of the thin line that divides them. The Love Language and Other Girls open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $12 advance, $14 day of show. — Michael Gallucci
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