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Hot Town 

The Rock Hall's Summer in the City concert series heats up

The summer's best block parties are happening right in front of the Rock Hall. No, really. We're shocked too. We'd be giddy for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum's Summer in the City concerts even if we had to pay to see them. The fact that they're free is mere icing on this sweet, moist cake.

So far this summer, the terrific retro-soul group Fitz and the Tantrums and the awesome hipster rap duo Das Racist have played excellent and packed shows in the museum's plaza. On Wednesday, August 3, the equally excellent Welsh rockers the Joy Formidable will perform.

If you haven't heard the band's debut album The Big Roar, yet, you should. It's one of the year's best: a noise-rock opus that grabs as much from '90s alt-rockers as it does from suspense-building indie rock. It's hard to tell what's bigger: singer Ritzy Bryan's voice or the set of effects pedals that throws her guitar into overdrive. The album's opening song, "The Everchanging Spectrum of a Lie," progresses over seven glorious minutes. We imagine it's going to sound even more grand as the guitars rush over you in the summer heat. It all starts at 7 p.m., but we suggest getting there early since these shows tend to fill up quickly.

Up next is Murder by Death on August 17. We're not nearly as excited about these indie rockers, but they sure beat some guy who used to be in Tears for Fears.

Gonna be in Germany Saturday? If so, you should catch the home-grown metal band Venomin James at the heavier-than-thou Wacken Open Air festival. They're playing right after Motörhead, in case you want to clear your itinerary.

Venomin James are the only Cleveland group on the bill this year. (The massive festival, which draws up to 80,000 metal fans each year, has hosted Cleveland bands Breaker, Destructor, and Eternal Legacy in years past.)

If you can't get your passport in shape by the weekend, still check out the band's video for "Make No Mistake," which is available on Wacken Tube (yes, it sounds a lot like a porn channel to us too). It taps into Kirtland's Melon Heads mythology, with a hairy woodland creature, bloody shovel, and sizable body count. Cool, creepy stuff.

Marley's Ghost, an Americana band from California, comes to town on Saturday as part of its 25th anniversary tour. That's cool news, but what makes their gig even better is that it's a benefit show for the Winchester.

The band's latest album, Ghost Town, came out more than a year ago, but the quintet has been playing shows — loaded with their mix of old-timey jazz, campfire twang, and dusty folk — here and there ever since. All proceeds from Saturday's show at the Winchester will go toward the Lakewood club. That's even cooler news, right?

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