7 Concerts to Catch in Cleveland This Weekend

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Talib Kweli/NIKO IS/DJ Spintelect/Muamin Collective/Doc Remedy

Known to some degree for his engaged social commentary — particularly since the shooting death of Michael Brown in 2014 — Talib Kweli has always held a finger to the pulse of the American consciousness. From the late-'90s hip-hop duo Black Star (with Mos Def) through years of a successful solo and collaborative career, Kweli has studded the rap game with thinking man's songcraft that keep listeners' heads bobbing and toes tapping. He pulls fans into this dark and uncertain decade with tracks like "Rare Portraits" and "The Wormhole," tunes that blend autobiographical chops with a harrowing awareness of how twisted — and beautiful — this world can be. (Eric Sandy), 9 p.m., $25. Grog Shop.

John 5 & the Creatures/Ego

Cut from the same musical cloth as six-string shredders such as Randy Rhoads, Yngwie Malmsteen and Jake E. Lee, guitarist John 5 embraces a much wider range of music than your typical guitar hero. Earlier this year, John 5 released his first live album, It’s Alive! Recorded at a gig in Sellersville, Pennsylvania, the album happened “by accident” but the guitarist and his backing band deliver the musical goods. The opening track “Guitars, Tits and Monsters” is an epic jam, and the Planet of the Apes films inspired the shimmering tune “Here’s to the Crazy Ones.” Expect to hear these tracks and more at tonight's concert in support of the release. (Jeff Niesel) 8 p.m., $17 ADV, $20 DOS. Beachland Ballroom.


AWOL Nation/Nothing But Thieves/IRONTOM

Led by charismatic singer Aaron Bruno, AWOL Nation, an electronic/indie rock act, scored big a few years back with "Sail," a soaring anthem that found its way into TV shows. commercials and films. With 2015's Run, the band slows things down. With its cooing vocals and piano melody, "Fat Face" could pass a Beach Boys tune, and "Jailbreak" comes off as soul/R&B. Of course, it's not all mellow stuff. The band cranks up the guitars on "Hollow Moon (Bad Wolf)," a song that finds Bruno practically screaming. Songs such as "Here Come the Runts" and "Passion," tracks from the group's new album, the just-released Here Come the Runts, emphasize the industrial rock side of its sound. Expect the band to show off its range at tonight's show. (Niesel), 8 p.m., $31.35 ADV/$36.75 DOS. House of Blues.

Rachel Brown and the Beatnik Playboys

Singer-songwriter Rachel Brown's religious parents regularly listened to old-time country music and that left a lasting impression. As a result, the Medina native grew up listening to George Jones, Merle Haggard and Loretta Lynn. Initially, it took years for Brown to issue her studio debut, 2012's Just Look My Way. But she's become more prolific in the wake of that release. Her new album, last year's Look Who's Back, represents her third album with her backing band, the Beatnik Playboys. Brown & Co. recorded Look Who's Back with engineer Paul Hamann at his Suma Recording Studios in Painesville. Brown's supple voice sounds terrific on tunes such as the twangy "Blue Diamond" and "Texas Moon," a song that features the Cleveland Orchestra violinist Emma Shook, whom Brown met through the side project Sisters in Song. Shook plays on four songs. Tunes such as the rollicking title track feature bar room piano fills and bluesy vocals. It's good stuff. (Niesel), 8 p.m., $15. Bop Stop.


COIN/The Aces

Members of this Nashville-based indie pop band have said they became more “self-aware” for their second album, last year’s How Will You Know if You Never Try. The snappy “Talk Too Much” features an ’80s pop feel with its retro synths that sound like they could’ve come from a Flock of Seagulls song. While the group hasn’t yet announced a release date for How Will You Know If Never Try’s follow-up, will first release a new single, “Growing Pains.” With its rattling percussion and trippy synths, “Growing Pains” possesses a greater degree of sonic density than previous COIN tunes. It'll likely make it into tonight's set. (Niesel) 8 p.m., $20 ADV, $25 DOS. House of Blues.

Reina Del Cid/Alexia Gray/Hannah Stakolich

On Sundays, singer-songwriter Reina del Cid regularly posts a video on her YouTube channel. Sometimes, she and her various bandmates play covers; other times, they play originals. She also likes to tell fans about her Minnesota-based existence and the pitfalls of being a performer. Tonight, fittingly on a Sunday, del Cid and her band come to Cleveland to play songs that are calm, cool and collected. On the group's newest effort, Rerun City, del Cid isn't so much a showy singer as she is warm and inviting. Her alto vocals don't offer a lot of range, but she makes up for that in gorgeous musicality and thoughtful storytelling. Her latest effort delves into the downside of living in a modern digital world while still offering hope for humanity. This is a group that's not afraid to make you think. (Laura Morrison), 8 p.m., $8-$12. The Winchester.

Portugal.The Man/Twin Peaks

Early on, indie rockers Portugal.The Man took what a “Beatles in Hamburg” approach and tried to play as often as it could and release as an album a year. In 2010, that approach yielded great dividends, and the band signed with Atlantic Records and began to see its popularity increase with each album. In the wake of the release of 2011’s In the Mountain in the Cloud, it would hit the festival circuit and perform at Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza. For 2013’s Evil Friends, it took another giant step forward and worked with shit-hot producer Danger Mouse (Black Keys, Jack White, Broken Bells). Last year's Woodstock yielded "Feel It Still," the band's biggest hit to date. (Niesel)  7 p.m., $35 ADV, $40 DOS. Music Hall.

About The Author

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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