Blue October’s Pick Up the Phone Tour — which is tied to a half-dozen suicide-prevention and help groups — was originally scheduled for last year, when the Houston alt-rockers released their fifth album, Approaching Normal. Ironically, frontman Justin Furstenfeld suffered a severe mental anxiety attack and the tour was scrapped. The singer, songwriter and guitarist is OK for now, but he has bipolar disorder, so there’s no telling when the tour and band may come to an abrupt stop. Not so surprisingly, Blue October put listeners in the position of Furstenfeld’s therapist, as he bitches, whines, seethes, rages and howls at (to borrow the title of Approaching Normal’s opening cut) “The Weight of the World.” Furstenfeld asks a lot of his fans. Not only are they expected to absorb his glum tales of drugs, depression and infidelity, they must endure his voice, which climbs a couple steps on the annoyance ladder the more excited he gets. But there’s a strong connection between Blue October and their fans, even if the music puts the rest of us on the ledge. Blue October play House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583) at 8 p.m. with Stars of Track and Field and Hurricane Bells. Tickets: $25 advance, $27 day of show. — Michael Gallucci
Leading a dual life, local singer-songwriter Hal Walker teaches the importance of music to students during the day, then writes, records and performs as a folk bard at night. On first listen, his new album, Home in Ohio, smacks of cheesy local pride set to overly wholesome music, made for moms, kids and Columbus Day. But give it a chance and the radiant warmth of these 14 narratives will surprise you. Song like “Many Colors” and “Water Cycles” are hypnotic visions of harmony and diversity that sound like the sun-drenched country roads of Eric Andersen rolling past the ripe golden fields of Gordon Lightfoot, right into “Walker-ville,” where they’re singing about blue-collar dreams, rust-belt beauty and your neighbor. Walker tries to illuminate local culture with genuine emotion, and it’s working. His music has been used by GroundWorks DanceTheater as well as the Summit Choral Society, for whom he penned “Father Abraham” in honor of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th birthday, sung by 200 children who at one point break out 200 harmonicas. He’s been commissioned to create a choir for the Inamori International Center for Ethics and Excellence at Case Western Reserve in October. He plays the Kent Stage (175 East Main St., Kent, 330.677.5005) at 7 tonight. Tickets: $5. — Keith Gribbins
It’s rare that a band will stand out at South by Southwest. Hundreds of artists compete for attention as jaded industry types weasel their way from one show to another. Israel’s sneering garage rockers Monotonix performed at the Austin music fest two years ago, and that paved the way for some major stateside buzz. “My belief is that you work hard, and you play shows and tour,” says singer Ami Shalev. “I believe the first SXSW show gave us the ability to break through to the next level. It’s not a huge step, but it took us to the next level. Though we’re not [as big as] Madonna or something.” Since forming from the remnants of other Tel Aviv-based bands several years ago, Monotonix have harnessed primal punk power into their renowned live shows. “From the beginning, the energy was kind of fun,” says Shalev. “We thought, Let’s make our dream come true and go to America and try to play. To us, America looked like the Temple of Rock.” Last fall, the band released Where Were You When It Happened?, which will likely make up the bulk of tonight’s set at Musica (51 E. Market St., Akron, 330.374.1114). Showtime is 9 p.m. This Moment in Black History open. Tickets: $12. — Jeff Niesel
Chicago-based thrashers Lair of the Minotaur have always pursued their own path. Choosing to emphasize raw power over technical precision, their albums are filled with the sound of picks on strings and guttural roars from guitarist and singer Steven Rathbone, bone-shattering drums from Chris Wozniak and down-tuned bass from Nate Olp. Every riff Lair of the Minotaur write is intended for one purpose: to get headbanging dudes to shout, “That was fucking awesome!” Their fourth album, Evil Power, doesn’t break the pattern. Listeners who like their favorite bands to progress might find this disappointing, but folks who want to hit a show and see a band totally slay every living thing in the room will be very happy indeed. They play Peabody’s (2045 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999), with Solpsist and Horror Madonna opening at 7 p.m. Tickets: $6. — Phil Freeman
Martin Dosh is a man on a mission. He interweaves acoustic instrumentation (violin, guitar, winds) with sounds generated or altered by electronic media. Instead of going deeper into sample-land on his latest album, Tommy ups the ante by including more drums (real ones!) and singing. (On the previous Dosh album, Wolves and Wishes, Bonnie “Prince” Billy lent his voice.) Unlike some electronica product, Tommy has the melodies and spunk to keep clear of ambient bliss-out land — it’s chill-out music that’s involving and engaging. By artfully combining aspects of classical, rock (pop and progressive), minimalism and electronics, Dosh is often in a genre all by himself. He performs at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). White Hinterland and Sleeps open. Tickets: $10. — Mark Keresman
Maybe it’s because the machines are kinda rare and a little expensive, but old-school printmakers have a tendency to form co-ops. Somebody gets a press and some space, and soon there’s a group of working artists there. Ohio has a handful of places like this. At today’s Collective Ink gathering, Zygote Press plays host to a delegation from the southern part of the state. Artists from Columbus-based Phoenix Rising, Cincinnati’s Tiger Lily Press and the Dayton Print Cooperative get together for a reception and a panel discussion, moderated by Kent-based printmaker Michael Loderstedt. Works by artists from all of the shops will be on display. The reception starts at 1 p.m. at Zygote Press (1410 E. 30th St., 216.621.2900). The panel discussion is at 3:30 p.m. at Wooltex Gallery, in the Tower Press building (1900 Superior Ave.). Admission is free. — Michael Gill
Even though it doesn’t sound particularly conducive to recreating their sonically dense music, Aussie alt-rockers the Church have been performing acoustic on their past couple of U.S. tours. The format is partially a function of adapting to smaller venues and not having the budget to lug around a bunch of gear and guitar techs from the Land Down Under. That may turn off fans who are ready to soak up the shoegaze guitars and lush arrangements that distinguish the band’s albums, but drummer Tim Powles says the unplugged tours have gone so well that the group may record its next album that way. “I think people have been surprised at how big the band sounds in that format,” he says. “We have never made an album of new material that sounds like that. I get frustrated when people become obsessed with whether it’s the electric or acoustic tour. Why can’t it just be the tour?” The most recent tour isn’t just any tour. It’s a 30th anniversary jaunt marking when the band first played together. The Church had a brief brush with the mainstream when 1988’s Starfish yielded the moody radio hit “Under the Milky Way,” but there’s a cult fan base out there that expects to hear plenty of obscure tunes in concert. “The aim is to provide the necessary crowd-pleasers but also drop in songs we’ve never, ever played,” says Powles. “It’ll be interesting to see how it comes along. It may narrow the audience. In other ways, it may extend it.” The Church play the Winchester (12112 Madison Ave., 216.226.5681) at 8 p.m. Tickets: $35. — Jeff Niesel
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