Is it a double entendre? A culinary disaster? Maybe it’s the nickname of a military weapon or STD? The only thing we know for sure is that Melt-Banana is a warning. The simple sugars of punk music become toxic, intoxicating vapors when freebased on a sheet-metal spoon. Singer Yasuko Onuki, the founder of the Tokyo noise-rock ensemble, uses the erratic pulse of squealing guitar, funky bass and frantic drums as a canvas for visceral squeaks, barks and yelps. Onuki’s primal vocals are the Jackson Pollack equivalent of singing — simple in form, but deep in implication. Given the band’s pinpoint turns at breakneck speeds, it’s not entirely fair to label Melt-Banana a noise band; there’s quite a bit of structure to the songs. The spirit of their music is raw, unfocused energy — a chaotic cacophony of sinuous signals, constantly changing direction, inexorably on its way to an unreachable destination. Then again, unless you’re into experimental music or free jazz, they probably just sound like a noisy blender with fleeting moments of melody and coherent structure. Melt-Banana’s secret weapon is their uncanny ability to maintain a strong sense of rhythm despite their bizarre, punctuated phrasing. They’re like the Sun Ra of punk rock. Deathers, Clan of the Cave Bear and Jerk kick things off at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., Cleveland Hts., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $12. — Nick DeMarino
Cleveland Pops’ Holidays in Toyland contains an entire seasonal package wrapped into one program. There’s an orchestra, a choir of men’s voices from Baldwin-Wallace College, some holiday-movie clips, an appearance by Santa and even a good cause. Conductor Carl Topilow chose songs from movie classics like Miracle on 34th Street, The Nightmare Before Christmas and The Polar Express for the program. Gordon Petitt will sing “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” but there’s hardly a mean note in this show. They’re also collecting toys for the City Mission’s new toys & games collection, so don’t forget to bring something to donate. And if you really want to get in the spirit of the season, they’ll even help you adopt a dog or cat from a local shelter. Showtime is 3 p.m. at PlayhouseSquare's Palace Theatre (1615 Euclid Ave., 216.241.6000). Tickets: $10-$35. — Michael Gill
The Children’s Museum of Cleveland (10730 Euclid Ave., 216.791.7114) is doing its part to help move children beyond the mindsets of consumerism and disposability with workshops on homemade holiday gifts, where they’ll craft papier-mâché bowls and picture frames out of recycled materials. From 12:30-1:30 p.m., kids ages four and older can make and decorate a gift Mom or Dad is sure to love. There’s a $10 materials fee for museum members, $15 for non-members. Registration is required; call the museum for a spot. The workshop repeats on December 13. — Anastasia Pantsios
Some might debate whether we’re heading into the “most wonderful time of the year,” as the old Andy Williams holiday chestnut maintains. But Cleveland’s Winterfest celebration at Public Square will attempt to jumpstart some seasonal spirit with a series of all-day activities that culminate from 6-7:10 p.m. with a tree-lighting, a concert featuring guitarist Neil Zaza and the Singing Angels, and the Cleveland sure-fire pleaser, a fireworks display. During the day, there’ll be free horse-drawn carriage rides departing from Old Stone Church, a Christmas Village on the Public Square quadrant in front of Terminal Tower that will offer crafts, games and refreshments, music by local bands and activities throughout downtown at venues like the Cleveland Public Library, the Arcade and Tower City. Go to cleveland.com/winterfest for a complete schedule. — Anastasia Pantsios
Are Los Angeles electro jokesters LMFAO real-life douchebags or do they just play douchebags on record? Hard to say, but we’re gonna guess they fall somewhere in between. The DJ/rapping team of Redfoo and Sky Blu first made waves with the single “I’m in Miami Bitch,” a celebration of perpetual spring-break living. “Drink all day, play all night/Let’s get it poppin’,” they rhyme over a skittering dime-store beat. “Get your hands up, get that ass up.” Elsewhere on their debut album, Party Rock, they “Get Crazy” for “Girls on the Dance Floor.” They’re pretty much one-trick goofballs who can’t decide between opening another Corona or throwing together a track about sleazy girls. Either way, they should bring a little Miami heat to House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583) at 8 tonight, when they lead the Party Rock Tour brigade featuring Far East Movement, Paradiso Girls, Shwayze and Space Cowboy. Tickets: $16.50 advance, $19 day of show. — Michael Gallucci
El Ten Eleven take every overdone concept they represent — guitarist-drummer duos, instrumental dance music, effects-driven electronica, post-prog math-rock — and kick them in the ass. Guitarist Kristian Dunn plays a double-neck guitar/bass, funneling his already otherworldly riffs through a bank of effects pedals to create an unnervingly complex and compelling wall of sound, while drummer Tim Fogarty lays down a groove that bristles with danceable simplicity and then challenges it with a beat that roils with expansive prog arrhythmia. Together, the Los Angeles duo creates an instrumental soundtrack that is as dark, rich and delicious as Swiss chocolate. They’re now on tour supporting their latest confection, These Promises Are Being Videotaped, with a 9 p.m. show at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Company Picnic and Captain Kneal & the Noise Makers open. Tickets: $8. — Brian Baker
Every year, audiences return to The Santaland Diaries — just like little kids line up every Christmas to see Santa at the mall. Director B.D. Bethune and actor Doug Kusak reprise their roles in Cleveland Public Theatre’s production of David Sedaris’ holiday staple. Kusak plays Crumpet, a 33-year-old Macy’s elf who sports “green velvet knickers, a forest-green velvet smock and a perky little hat decorated with spangles” and drips sarcasm over his minimum-wage job. It opens at 7:30 tonight with performances running through December 19 at Cleveland Public Theatre (6415 Detroit Ave., 216.631.2727). Tickets: $10-$30. — Michael Gill
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