Dream Theater/ Crimson ProjeKct
Ask fans of longtime prog-metal heroes Dream Theater, and most of them will tell you that the band's latest album, last year's A Dramatic Turn of Events, is a resounding failure. The LP's title is a reference to the recent departure of founding drummer Mike Portnoy, the guy who gave Dream Theater much of their distinctive sound. Veteran timekeeper Mike Mangini isn't bad, but no one can propel the group like Portnoy did. That band's signature sound soldiers on, but things feel different now. Guitarist John Petrucci shines, and both keyboardist Jordan Rudess and bassist John Myung add heft to "Build Me Up, Bring Me Down" and "On the Backs of Angels," but the rest of the album is forced and not very confident. Plus, singer James LaBrie sounds bored. At least tour openers the Crimson ProjeKct (made up of King Crimson alum, who really should be in the Rock Hall) will amaze, so be sure to get to Jacobs Pavilion a little early this week. — Peter Chakerian
7:30 p.m. Thursday, June 21. Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. Tickets: $30 - $80; call 800-745-3000 or visit livenation.com.
It's been more than 15 years since Nada Surf's hit single "Popular" dominated all sorts of airwaves. While the Brooklyn-based trio never reached those levels of, um, popularity again, they did something better: Matthew Caws, Daniel Lorca, and Ira Elliot outlasted their peers, releasing six more albums filled with ambitious, sparkling pop smarts. Their latest LP — The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy — isn't as insular as the past few records. Caws opens up the whole wide world on songs like "Clear Eye Clouded Mind" and "No Snow on the Mountain." Nada Surf recorded the album in their rehearsal space to capture the immediacy of a live performance, so the songs should sound right at home when the band drops by the Beachland this week. The show will also be a homecoming for the group's unofficial fourth member Doug Gillard (Guided By Voices, Death of Samantha), who appears on the last two records and plays guitar onstage to round out the sound. — John Patrick Gatta
With Waters. 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 21. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $20, $18 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Steve Miller Band
If you haven't been paying attention, you may have missed Steve Miller's return a couple of years ago. After 1993's Wide River, the '70s hitmaker disappeared for 17 years. In 2010, Miller released Bingo!, a set of blues covers by the guys who influenced him when he first picked up a guitar in the late '50s, like B.B. King and Jimmy Reed. Last year's Let Your Hair Down comes from the same sessions, including tracks written by Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters. They're solid nods to Miller's early days as a serious guitar-slinger, before people started calling him the space cowboy, the gangster of love, and, for reasons we're still not entirely clear on, Maurice. Of course, Miller is expected to play most of the songs that made him a star back in the day. So you'll probably hear "Fly Like an Eagle," "Rock'n Me," "Take the Money and Run," "Jet Airliner," and, yes, "The Joker." But he'll reserve the real abracadabra for the old blues tunes he cut his teeth on before he even started thinking about the pompatus of love. – Gallucci
8 p.m. Saturday, June 23. Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. Tickets: $25 - $100; call 800-745-3000 or visit livenation.com.
Certain bands, at certain points in their careers, stop being bands and turn into something way more culturally significant. There are different signposts along the way to tell you when a group has reached that point — when what they become doesn't have much, if anything, to do with music anymore. Action figures get you to that place (hello, Kiss!). So does having your own ice cream flavor. Phish were always destined for this sort of legacy, with their open, audience-centric approach to, well, everything. Their Summer of Love spirit can be infectious, even if their music — a multicultural mishmash of styles and jams so extended that it's hard to figure out where the actual song fits into the whole thing — isn't. Simply put: There are those people who just don't get Phish, and then there are those noodle-dancing fans who'll be happy to tell those other people that they just don't get it, man. It's been three years since Phish's last album, Joy, came out, but no matter. It hasn't been about the music for years. – Nicholas Hall
8 p.m. Sunday, June 24. Blossom Music Center. Tickets: $45, $60; call 330-920-8040 or visit livenation.com.
You'd have a hard time finding a better song on the radio right now than Japandroids' "The House That Heaven Built." That is, if radio even bothered to play the fist-pumping centerpiece of the Canadian indie-rock duo's new album, Celebration Rock. Not that there's anything rougher than a "tell them all to go to hell" lyric going on. The song's monster hook certainly isn't the problem — it's more accessible than half the songs now hogging the airwaves. "The House That Heaven Built" is just too awesome for ears that aren't used to the post-punk guitars and spitting vocals by one of the most economical indie-rock bands of the '00s. Like Japandroids' 2009 debut Post-Nothing, Celebration Rock features eight songs in 35 minutes. Guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse structure Celebration Rock like a concept album, starting and ending with the sound of fireworks popping in the distance. But then they tear the whole thing down with choking guitars, throat-shredding singalongs, and punk tunes flirting madly with pop's playbook. — Michael Gallucci
With Cadence Weapon. 8 p.m. Friday, June 22. Grog Shop. Tickets: $12; call 216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.
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