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Wu-tang Lead This Week's Concert Picks 

No Method to the Madness

Wu-Tang Clan at House of Blues on Wednesday, December 17

You never know who or what you're getting with the Wu-Tang Clan. It was a rare night back in the day when all nine members of the venerable hip-hop crew would be onstage at the same time. And even then, shows would fall apart before the first cut was over. For this week's gig at the House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583), RZA, GZA, Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck, U-God and Masta Killah should be there. For those keeping score, that means no Method Man (who's presumably too tied up making deodorant commercials and shitty sitcoms these days) or Ol' Dirty Bastard, who's dead. There's a new DVD out documenting the group's history, but this latest tour is all about 15 years of minor-key, kung-fu-flick-sampling hits. The year-old 8 Diagrams was a solid comeback for the Wu, but the real reason to check them out is to hear classics like "C.R.E.A.M.," "Protect Ya Neck" and "Triumph" one more time before the Wu become hip-hop's version of the Rolling Stones. The show starts at 9 p.m. Tickets: $38 to $65. - Michael Gallucci

Ted Leo

Just looking at Ted Leo, you'd think he's your average thirtysomething nerdy guy who works at the drugstore and reads novels in his free time. He radiates "average guy" vibes better than anyone. But when he performs live, all those geeky preconceptions fall to the wayside. Leo can rock out. We're not talking just plain rock 'n' roll here; this Jersey man mixes in the wild, quick punch of punk, occasional bits of funk-reggae, some Celtic rock, and even a little rapping (or yelling) here and there. His thought-out lyrics are bursting with political and social commentary, and his music has a punk-rock ethos that can make a crowd shake with excitement. This time, he's hitting Cleveland without his usual backing band, the Pharmacists. The solo tour may be a smaller affair than Pharmacist fans are used to, but don't expect Leo to be quiet. The head doctor will still be in the house, playing electrifying tunes like "Me and Mia" and "La Costa Brava," a song about rejuvenating and taking a break every once in a while. Local songwriter Brian Straw opens at 7 p.m. at the B-Side Liquor Lounge (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.932.1966). Tickets: $10. - Danielle Sills


Originally called the Black Supersuckers after forming in Tucson in 1988, the Supersuckers didn't have any cow in their brand of punk in those early days. They played straight-ahead punk rock. But one year after getting together, they packed their bags and moved to Seattle, dropped the "black" part of the moniker and kicked out their lead singer. Guitarist Eddie Spaghetti made a quick and easy transition to singing, and it wasn't long before the guys signed to the Supersonic city's Sub Pop Records and put out The Smoke of Hell, the first of what would be three albums it issued on the label. While not grunge-oriented like the rest of the Sub Pop roster, the Supersuckers more or less fit in with the label's noise-lovers. Everything changed when the band released 1997's Must've Been High, an album that found them embracing the outlaw country of Johnny Cash/Waylon Jennings/Merle Haggard. They've just returned with Get It Together, their first full-length in five years. It features the same kind of rowdy, kick-your-teeth-in tunes for which the band is famous. The Whiskey Daredevils open at 8 p.m. at the Jigsaw Saloon (5324 State Rd., 216.351.3869). Tickets: $15. - Jeff Niesel

Bang Camaro

Bang Camaro sounds like something that a horny Transformer wants to do to your muscle car. In fact, Bang Camaro is an anthemic hard-rock band like no other and, in this jaded industry, that's an amazing accomplishment. The musical core of the band - guitarists Alex Necochea and Bryn Bennett, bassist Dave "Doz" Riley and drummer Peter McCarthy - are all current members or refugees from Boston area indie-rock units, not unusual in itself. The surprise comes at the microphone, when anywhere from 10 to 20 vocalists convene to create a living choir that makes Phil Spector's multi-tracking tactics obsolete. Taking the concept further, Bang Camaro mixes metallic influences like Skid Row, Cinderella and Iron Maiden with crafty pop masters like Elvis Presley and Buddy Holly to create chorus-laden songs just begging to be singles. That's how the band originally came up with Camaro Thursdays, when the group would release an iTunes single every other week. Somewhere, Freddie Mercury is smiling. Hot Rails and Safari open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $12. - Brian Baker

The Buffalo Killers

This garage-blues act from Cincinnati has spent most of the fall opening for the recently reunited Black Crowes. But don't hold that against them. In singer-guitarist Andrew Gabbard, the Killers have a man with an evocative voice that recalls the classic sounds of the '60s in tunes like the hippie-dippy anthem "Get Together Now Today" and the psychedelic-blues ballad "Let it Ride." Signed to Audio Eagle, the local imprint run by Black Keys' drummer Patrick Carney, the band, which includes former members of Thee Shams, is essentially an honorary local act. Big Sur opens at 10 p.m. at the Matinee (2527 W. 25th St., 216.574.2843). - Niesel

Bill Rudman

The economic prospects for this year's yuletide season seem more than a bit grim. But for those with a sense of humor and a love of traditional holiday music, local radio personality Bill Rudman is hitting the stage with the third edition of his Christmas Cabaret. It's a mash-up of both well-known and more obscure tunes from the likes of George Gershwin, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and even Stephen Sondheim, who contributed a composition to the ever-growing canon of holiday songs. The Christmas Cabaret is not just a trip down memory lane, but something to chuckle about, especially when lyrics speak of "singing the joys of the silver onion chopper and the checkbook growing thin." Rudman devised the show with pianist and arranger Nancy Maier as a way to bring some forgotten gems back to the spotlight in a fun and entertaining manner. While favorites like Irving Berlin's "White Christmas" and Hugh Martin's "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" are sure to be included, fans will also be surprised by several lesser-known tunes. Cleveland-based musical-theater veterans Sandra Simon and Jared Leal round out the four-piece group, which promises a splendid time and quite a few laughs in spite of the mess on Wall Street. The show starts at 7 p.m. at Nighttown (12387 Cedar Rd., 216.795.0550) and repeats at the same time on Dec. 17 and 18. Tickets: $20. - Ernest Barteldes

The Faint

Nowadays, dark 'n' danceable new-wave/post-punk bands are a dime a dozen (see Metric, MGMT, Mindless Self Indulgence, MSTRKRFT, et al., and that's just the M's). When skinny, nerdy and perpetually black-clad becomes the standard look, it takes far more than an apathetic synth- or laptop-playing stage presence and sparse, glib lyrics to stand out from a retro-minded pack that's far more concerned with repetitive beats than artistic breakthroughs. Consider, the case of the Faint's Todd Baechle. The former member of Omaha's Commander Venus (and longtime cohort of Conor Oberst), fed up with oppressive matrimonial conventions, married fellow Saddle Creek labelmate/half of former Azure Ray duo Orenda Fink in March 2005 and promptly took her last name. To repeat: He took her last name. Exactly how the change affects his band's output probably ranges from minimal to irrelevant, although it may not be a coincidence that Fasciinatiion - its self-produced, self-art-directed and self-released fifth studio effort, released in August - coincided with the establishment of the Faint's own blank.wav label. At least it proves that the decade-plus veterans think outside the box. Imagine what a different place the music industry would be if more skinny, nerdy and perpetually black-clad musicians followed suit. The Show Is the Rainbow and This Is a Shakedown! open at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $18 advance, $20 day of show. - Julie Seabaugh

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