5 Concerts to Catch This Weekend in Cleveland

[image-1]FRIDAY, JULY 14

Billy Joel

Mid-way through a two-hour concert at Quicken Loans Arena in 2014, singer-pianist Billy Joel made a passing reference to a time in the ’90s when a record exec told him he had to “stay on the charts” if he wanted to sustain a career. “I guess I don’t know anything,” Joel said with a laugh in front of an enthusiastic capacity crowd that clearly didn’t care that Joel didn’t have any new material (and hasn’t had any new material for something like 20 years) to promote. And Joel didn’t disappoint. Casually introducing songs and playing spot-on versions of all his hits, he was the consummate showman, even if the only time he got up from the piano and roamed the stage was to strap on an electric guitar for an impromptu cover of AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” that featured longtime roadie Chainsaw on lead vocals. Though a bit stockier and balder than he appeared during a visit to town in 2009, Joel still sounded great (it helps that he really talks more than he sings) and hasn’t lost a step on the piano. (Jeff Niesel), 7:30 p.m., $49.50-$139.50. Progressive Field.


When Phantogram initially began touring shortly after forming in 2007, singer-guitarist Josh Carter and singer-keyboardist Sarah Barthel took a DIY approach to their tours. They traveled in a Prius and slept in Walmart parking lots. Carter and Barthel, who both grew up in upstate New York and even attended the same preschool, have been friends since they were kids. Initially, they moved out of town and played in other bands before deciding to collaborate after returning to upstate New York. The songs on their latest album, Three, represent another intoxicating blend of styles. Highlights include the album opener “Funeral Pyre,” a tune that features fuzzy bass lines and whispered vocals, and “Same Old Blues,” a song that relies upon soulful vocals and snippets of snarling guitars. A surge of synthesizers kicks off “Cruel World,” a trip-hop-inflected tune that recalls Portishead and Tricky with its ominous sounding sonic textures, and Barthel effectively raps her way through "Calling All." Expect to hear these tracks and more at tonight's show. (Niesel) 8 p.m., $28-$36. House of Blues.


Luke Bryan/Brett Eldridge

While Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw have basically owned the party hearty country crowd for the past few years, a younger group of guys (and notice we did say guys — the country scene is pretty much a man's world these days) is coming up on the circuit, threatening to outdo its predecessors. Witness singer-songwriter Bryan, a Georgia-born singer-songwriter who's become one of country’s biggest superstars. He bring his massive Huntin', Fishin' and Lovin' Tour to town tonight. A capacity crowd will likely be on hand. (Niesel), 7:30 p.m., $39.75-$99.75. Progressive Field.

Smoke Screen / Mourning a BLKstar DJ Eso, Mourning A BLKstar, Archie Green

Chemist (Thomas Sheridan) and Mooke (Rodney Mynatt), the duo that formed the local hip-hop group Smoke Screen some 10 years ago, were friends long before. Since performing their first show at Peabody's, the group shared the stage with acts such as Kid Cudi, Wale and People Under the Stairs. In 2007, the band released Self-Educated Learning Process, and the group dropped a few "free projects" before releasing the full-length follow-up, Imagination Beyond Illustration in 2010 and Ice Cold Water in 2012. The band recorded its new album, Return to the Sun, at its own studio and outsourced the mixing. Directed by Turnstyle Films, the music video for the single "Breakbeats and Bass" features footage from throughout the past decade spliced with current-day shots of the group. The album kicks off with "Eternal Flame," a tune that features percolating synths and rattling bass beats as Sheridan and Mynatt deliver rapid-fire raps. Since tonight's release party at the Grog Shop comes as the band enters its 10th year, the group plans to invite special guests to the show to help it celebrate the anniversary. (Niesel) 9 p.m., $6 ADV, $8 DOS. Grog Shop.


Cracker/Chris Hatton

After beloved indie rockers Camper van Beethoven [pictured] broke up in the late ’80s, singer-guitarist David Lowery approached childhood friend Johnny Hickman about starting a new band. The duo began writing songs together and even played a few shows as the David Lowery Group before forming the alt-rock act Cracker with drummer Greg Weatherford (since replaced by Coco Owens) and bassist Davey Faragher (since replaced by Bryan Howard). The current Cracker lineup also includes Matt “Pistol” Stoessel on pedal steel and Thayer Sarrano, who sometimes tours with the band, on keys and backing vocals. Part of the band's 25th anniversary tour, tonight's show will undoubtedly include a wide selection of material from its vast catalog. (Niesel)
7 p.m., $25 ADV, $28 DOS. Music Box Supper Club.

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Jeff Niesel

Jeff has been covering the Cleveland music scene for more than 20 years now. And on a regular basis, he tries to talk to whatever big acts are coming through town, too. If you're in a band that he needs to hear, email him at [email protected].
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