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Trance in his Pants

Paul Van Dyk at Cyrus

Waterfront, Thursday August 14

DJ Paul Van Dyk bristles when asked what it's like to jet-set all over the world. "I have been all over the place," he admits via phone from his studio in Berlin, Germany. "I came back last weekend after going to Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore before that. But you know, the word jet-set implies that this is something different. Jet-set implies the posh lifestyle and glamour and glitter. The thing is, for example, last Friday we went to Tokyo and we played Fuji Rock. It's a 12-hour flight from Europe, and it's a 6-hour drive up the mountain. You do not look glamorous when you arrive." Van Dyk, who recruited the likes of Talking Head David Byrne and Pussycat Doll Jessica Sutta on his last studio offering, 2003's Reflections, says working with other artists has helped push him in directions he might not normally go. "If I collaborate with someone, I'm not interested in doing a typical Paul Van Dyk track and putting someone's vocal track on it," he says. "If I know I am going to work with somebody, I compose a track that is the right [mix] between the vibe I want to bring across and the other artist. It's always interesting to work this way." Born in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall, Van Dyk began DJing shortly after escaping to West Germany, simply because he was "disappointed in the music being played in the clubs in West Berlin." His popularity quickly rose, and he became known as one of the premier DJs in the world. "The first time I thought I'm doing something right was in 1993," he says, "when we had the most people at our event at [the club] E-Werk in Berlin. When someone else was playing, it was a little more empty. I guess that's when I thought we're entertaining a few people." Van Dyk says he's currently working on a "Chill Out" series of albums that you can "really dive into," the first of which will try to musically represent what it's like to be in New York. Noted initially as a trance DJ, Van Dyk has evolved to embrace electronic music of all genres - something he does in his live sets. "Over the past 15 years, I've developed a passion for DJing that is the same as my passion for electronic music," he says. "Now I have keyboards and synthesizers lined up, and that enables me to use my skills as a DJ in reading the crowd and playing the right thing at the right moment. And the thing is, if you listen to even my first album or second or third when they called me the leader of the trance nation - I never did stereotypical trance music. My music has trancey elements, but at the same time I also like break beats and techno and house music. That's why I call it electronic music." Randy Boyer opens at 9 p.m. at Cyrus Waterfront (2000 Sycamore St., 216.241.3325). Tickets: $25. - Jeff Niesel

Poison

You know how the saying goes: The bigger they are, the harder they fall. Well, this aphorism certainly couldn't ring more true for hair-metal heroes Poison. Virtual rock gods throughout the late '80s and early '90s, they've been left to languish as the punch line to jokes about bad hair and overblown guitar solos. Poor Bret Michaels has had to resort to demeaning himself on cable television for the affections of trashy-hot dimwits. OK, strike that last complaint; I'm sure he's having a great time. To its credit, Poison showed American youth that you could rock out and still have a soft side - unabashedly combining bombastic songwriting with almost embarrassing sentimentality in tunes such as "Every Rose Has Its Thorn" and "Fallen Angel." Poison provides a display of confident, sometimes shockingly sensitive masculinity that today's mainstream rock radio can't touch. Besides that, and more important, those old tunes were a hell of a lot of fun to listen to. See if that holds true when the band comes to Blossom (1134 Steels Corners Rd., Cuyahoga Falls, 330.920.8040), with Dokken and Sebastian Bach opening at 7 p.m. Tickets: $15-$59.50. - Nicholas Hall

Oneida

Oneida has always pushed past the sound barriers of safe. Releasing 10 albums in less than a decade, the Brooklyn trio has helped redefine the niche of art noise, not unlike underground ambassadors Sonic Youth. Now the band is pushing perhaps its boldest project to date - Preteen Weaponry, the first record from the "Thank Your Parents" trilogy of albums. It's a series of three "mostly" instrumental song projects designed to capture the band's outer musical limits. "And I wouldn't say we captured it," says drummer Kid Millions in a phone interview. "That's just the ambition. With this idea, we just decided not to limit ourselves or make choices that were conservative. And now it's just grown into this outrageously, far-reaching, strange project." The band (which also includes keyboardist Fat Bobby and bassist/guitarist Hanoi Jane) has been working on the "Parents" project for the past three years. Preteen Weaponry is one 40-minute song of cinematic swirling guitar, synths and drums. The album grows and recedes with the slow release of a post-rock Tortoise or Paik epic and the energy and form of a nebulous sci-fi movie score. The album also teases you with the fact that the second part, Rated O, is slated to be released by Jagjaguwar in early 2009. "I knew it would take years for people to realize we weren't a certain type of band - that we weren't easily categorized," says Millions. "I think this project speaks to that." This Moment in Black History, Dirty Faces and Jah Division Electronic Sound System open at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $8 advance, $10 day of show. - Keith Gribbins

The Coast

As far as Canadian musicians go, Avril Lavigne and Shania Twain are more likely to be mentioned than a little indie band from Toronto, but the Coast has the potential to change that. The band's full-length record, Expatriate, features songs like "Tightrope" and "Song for Gypsy Rose Lee" that will make you want to bust out some '80s dance music and cry, respectively. The band's two previous EPs earned it the title "Canada's best-kept secret" from MTV Canada. However, Expatriate showcases a band that didn't rest on its debut laurels. While the Coast offers up polished indie gems, She Swings, She Sways, the co-headliner, is purely Midwestern, with snatches of country-, folk- and Americana-infused lyrics. Each song on the Iowa band's full-length debut has a yearning tone, no matter how bizarre it may sound. Not many people can relate Chaucer and Kerouac to a couple's first time, but She Swings, She Sways does it in songs like "Highway" - and does it well. The monotonous stomping beat of "Search Engine" shows a different musical side of the band but still manages to keep the charm of its musical roots. Vital Mines starts everything off at 8 p.m. at Wilbert's (812 E. Huron Rd., 216.902.4663). Tickets: $6. - Brittany Moseley

Royal Bangs

Listening to the atomic rock of Royal Bangs is like slamming a Jolt Cola and letting the explosive formula of fizzy, electro rock 'n' roll pour down your T-shirt. The five-piece from Knoxville, Tennessee, bottles a bombastic brand of indie rock. It's liable to put you on your ass with the same fractured and sophisticated taste you enjoy in vintage selections of Pavement or in that new-wave brand of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. Their second full-length, We Breed Champions, is like a junkyard of instrumental textures and tastes, scorching guitars, candy-coated keyboards, belching computers and two blasting, beefy percussion kits, all doused with the caffeinated pyrotechnics of erratic start/stop dynamics. And even though selections like "Brother" and "Let's Get Even" are noisy, effects-heavy kitchen-sink rock anthems, they're direct-injected with syrupy hooks that are immediately accessible to those who crave today's underground alt-pop music. The goofy tune "Broke Calculator" might as well be about a sticky, run-down cotton-candy machine. The band's jerky rock energy is being directed with the help of Black Keys' drummer Patrick Carney, who has signed Royal Bangs to his Akron-based Audio Eagle label. Just be warned: Large doses of these intense melodies can cause a hangover often associated with listening to TV on the Radio or Architecture in Helsinki. Oh No! Oh My!, Antenna Shoes and the Climates open at 9 p.m. at the Beachland Tavern (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $7. - Gribbins

Cute Is What We Aim For

Somewhere along the line, most of today's best-selling, well-coiffed pop-punk-emo-rockcore hybrids became a little too preoccupied with clever song titles over lyrical insight (and forming clothing lines over gut-level connections). Cute Is What We Aim For, however, seems to understand that the teenage experience can't be distilled into a snarky slogan on an aggressively patterned hoodie. Sure, the foursome was discovered on MySpace, but its subsequent signing to pop powerhouse Fueled By Ramen and 2006 release of The Same Old Blood Rush With a New Touch reflected some timeless truths: The formative years are filled with myriad victories, defeats, discoveries and drama. Heady stuff goes down, but it's possible to create a fitting - and infinitely catchy - soundtrack to the spectrum of experiences without being preachy or prefabricated. Little coincidence that the band's members were barely out of high school themselves at the time, but even after a few years' distance, juggernaut tours and lineup changes, the group is more attuned to modern youth than ever. Its most recent album, Rotation, may have tie-ins to the iPhone and The Hills, but, like adolescence, music isn't simply about growing and improving. On the most basic levels, it's about the fine art of survival. Ace Enders, Danger Radio and Powerspace open at 6 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $12. - Julie Seabaugh

The Thunder Tour

The guys in SMV (Stanley Clarke, Marcus Miller and Victor Wooten) have individually changed the way audiences hear the bass, but the idea of bringing them together, which started out when they formed during a bass festival last fall in New York, was a stroke of genius. Their CD's title (Thunder) actually gives you an idea of what kind of sound lies ahead. On this incredible piece of work (co-produced by the trio), the guys support each other as they trade solos with great results. For instance, on "Lil' Victa," Clarke plays mostly chords while Miller actually plays straight bass lines to provide the backbeat for Wooten, who expertly showcases his gospel-influenced groove. The intro to "Lopsy Lu/Silly Putty" bears some resemblance to "So Long Mickey Mouse," a tune Clarke played with Return to Forever in the '70s, but it quickly changes into an electronically charged funk groove with added synth solos from Miller. Another highlight is "Milano," a down-tempo track in which Miller and Wooten take the foreground in what turns out to be one of the most beautiful moments on the entire disc. Listen also to "Mongoose Walk," which features fine piano work from Chick Corea, another RTF alum who hasn't lost any of his inspiration, even after more than four decades in the business. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Cain Park (Superior and Lee roads, 216. 371.3000). Tickets: $25-$32. - Ernest Barteldes

Ted Nugent

After 33 years in the spotlight, Ted Nugent has done more than make music. He's released 33 albums and sold more than 35 million of them. He's gained several nicknames, from the Nuge to Motor City Madman. He's written three best-selling books and contributed to outdoor magazines. And besides music, he's spreading his love of hunting as far as he can. So what's left? The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, of course. He isn't getting inducted, but Nugent doesn't need an excuse to perform a free concert. Since 1975, people have been listening to Nugent's brand of rock 'n' roll, coupled with his talent on the guitar. Today, his stance on certain controversial topics has gained him just as much attention as his music, but it hasn't slowed him down. He released his last album, Love Grenade, almost a year ago. And that was his first disc in five years. After almost four decades as a performer, Nugent has shown everyone that he plans to be around for a few more decades. The Burnt River Band opens at 7 p.m. at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1100 Rock and Roll Blvd., 216.781.7625). - Moseley

Ozomatli

Just like in the world of cuisine, musical fusion is always a risk, and sometimes it just doesn't work. Take, for example, the failed nŸ-metal experiment of the late '90s: That turbulent end-of-a-century period was actually a fairly fertile breeding ground for various types of fusion music, but not all of them were as unfortunately conceived and foisted on the listening public as nŸ-metal. SoCal's Ozomatli was one of the few bands that got it right. Its heady Latin-flavored mix of hip-hop, salsa, jazz and funk is unusually tight and exciting, on everything from its 1998 self-titled debut to last year's Don't Mess With the Dragon. Really, what makes it work so well is the fact that, while the band certainly has a flair for musical mash-up, its explorations always have a focus. Too many similarly minded bands seem to have a kitchen-sink mentality, throwing anything they can think of into the mix, without regard to the overall design. Ozomatli, on the other hand, works from the starting point of quality songwriting, blending disparate influences with a prudent hand rather than reckless abandon. The guys open for frat jam band O.A.R. at 7 p.m. at Tower City Amphitheater (1887 W. Third St., 216.522.4822). Tickets: $30. - Hall

Flobots

The folk-rap spirit of dozens of forgotten artists is alive and well in Flobots, a Denver alt-rap/-rock group currently clogging the airwaves with one of the summer's most annoying songs, "Handlebars." The rest of its major-label debut album, Fight With Tools, isn't as wretched, but the damage has been done. A six-member crew that crosses racial and gender lines, Flobots formed at the top of the decade and self-released a pair of CDs that nobody heard. Fight With Tools combines Beck's hazy desert rhymes, Rage Against the Machine's clenched-teeth ire and the slacker-rap of "Handlebars," a global hug that's as inept as it is naive. There's social commentary in Flobots' songs, but most of it amounts to dull proclamations like "Stand up, we shall not be moved." The band includes a viola player, who weaves in and out of the unplugged hip-hop and sounds as out of place as you'd think. Flobots play Peabody's (2083 E. 21st St., 216.776.9999) at 7 p.m. Tickets: $10 and $12. - Michael Gallucci

Weedeater

Unless you attended Emissions From the Monolith festival back when it was in Youngstown, odds are Weedeater isn't on your radar. The Wilmington trio plays Southern sludge - music characterized by slow bluesy grooves, heavy distortion and banshee vocals. It's like running a magnet over a Queens of the Stone Age tape a couple of times and popping it into a blown-out stereo. The band is part of a movement that began with Eyehategod and is winning people over today with groups like Rwake and Kylesa. Bassist/singer "Dixie" Dave Collins started Weedeater in between stints with Sourvein, Hail!Hornet, Bongzilla and Buzzov-en. If you're even remotely interested in rock music, Weedeater's live show is a must-see. Band members punish their bodies onstage - limbs flailing, guzzling drink after drink. Throwing up onstage has become a staple for Dixie, and he rarely misses a beat, despite his stomach's protracted war on alcohol. They're approachable too and have stories galore. You can catch Weedeater with Black Cobra (a killer L.A. sludge band) and local bands Bloodwolf and Forged in Flame at 9 p.m. at the Jigsaw Saloon (5324 State Rd., 216.351.3869). Tickets: $10 advance, $12 day of show. - Nick DeMarino

Pepper

The Hawaiian band Pepper hasn't relaxed much since relocating to Southern California in 1999. Singer-guitarist Kaleo Wassman, singer-bassist Bret Bollinger and drummer Yesod Williams have been too busy releasing albums, starting a record label and touring with everyone from Flogging Molly to Snoop Dogg. The band released its fifth album, Pink Crustaceans and Good Vibrations, last month - it was Pepper's first album on its new label, Law Records. Pepper's mix of reggae and rock has created a fan base as diverse as its music. Pink offers more of the band's signature sound, but also shows that Pepper isn't afraid to change and update its music. "Davey Jones Locker" starts off as the usual upbeat reggae tune but turns into a smooth R&B ballad. "Do Something" is a mix of reggae and arena-rock beats, while "Love 101" sounds like the early songs fans fell in love with. Tropidelic and Passafire open at 8 p.m. at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583). Tickets: $16.50-$19. - Moseley

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