8 Concerts to Catch in Cleveland This Weekend

8 Concerts to Catch in Cleveland This Weekend

Brother Ali/Sa-Roc/Last Word/Sol Messiahh

Two of Brother Ali’s most well known songs embody the dichotomy of the rapper’s writing. On one hand, you’ve got “Forest Whitiker,” which dishes a “beauty is on the inside, not the outside” narrative, and then you’ve got “Uncle Sam Goddamn,” which sinks its claws into a country built on injustice and inequality and, naturally, hypocrisy. In both forms, Ali flashes a street-pastor vocal style and a knack for acrobatic social criticism. This is conscious hip-hop, embodying the slick and savvy Rhymesayers ethos. (Eric Sandy), 8 p.m., $15 ADV, $18 DOS. Agora Ballroom.

The Dreemers/See Creatures/DJ Andrew Novak

This Akron-based band's full-length debut, Beach Mode, features a range of music. It includes driving blues, surf pop and soulful doo-wop. The group went to the newly formed Akron Recording Company, which was founded by the Dreemers and Nate Bucher of See Creatures, to record the album. The studio is situated near old factories in Akron's East End neighborhood. San Francisco-based artist Andrew Pitrone, who's originally from Cleveland, did the artwork. "Rock and Roll Deathwish," the first track, begins with a series of screams before the surf-y guitars, old-school organ riffs and B-52s-like vocals kick in. "Everybody's doing it," goes the refrain, which the band repeats over and over. "Hand in the Mirror" features soulful vocals and a plodding drumbeat that makes it sound like it came from the '60s. "Feelin' Fine" includes a gospel intro, but "Better Than That" ditches the gimmickry and comes off as a great garage rock tune. (Jeff Niesel) 9 p.m., $10. Musica.

Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul

Little Steven's sixth studio album, Soulfire, arrived earlier this year and could be categorized as a happy accident. In the fall of last year, he was wrapping up his latest round of touring work with Bruce Springsteen and the members of the E Street Band. He already had plans to go over to the U.K. to celebrate his wife’s birthday and also be on hand to mark the 80th birthday of his friend, former Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman. The timing of his trip was fortuitous. A friend invited him to play the London Bluesfest and for the occasion, he put together a new version of his longtime solo band, the Disciples of Soul, the “ever-changing group of misfits, rogues, and roustabouts” as he terms it. While some folks might keep things economical, Van Zandt went big and ultimately took a 15-piece band overseas including a horn section and three backing vocalists. He’ll bring that same oversized group to Hard Rock Live tonight. (Matt Wardlaw) 8 p.m. Hard Rock Rocksino Northfield Park.


When Jennifer Lee, the L.A. Based-electronic indie artist who tours and records as Tokimonsta, first signed to Brainfeeder, the label run by forward-thinking electronic artist Flying Lotus, she didn't think it was any big deal. After all, Flying Lotus simply contacted her via iChat and informally added her to his roster. Lee's resulting 2010 debut album, Midnight Menu, captures the sound of the West Coast beat scene and represents the distillation of her various influences. Lee, who grew up studying piano, draws from both hip-hop and electronica and cites acts such as Wu-Tang Clan and DJ Shadow as influences. Her latest effort, Lune Rouge, is another eclectic affair. The undulating "We Love" features percolating synths and hiccuping vocals, making it sound a bit like it could be a Tegan and Sara song. With some help from the song’s guest vocalist, Malaysian singer-songwriter Yuna, the single "Don't Call Me" shows how easily Lee can navigate the pop world. Lee isn't touring with a band, but tonight's show should feature some cool visuals and will still be an engaging event. (Niesel), 8 p.m., $15 ADV, $18 DOS. Beachland Ballroom.


Kid Cudi

Despite recent struggles with depression and suicidal urges that forced him to check into rehab, rapper Kid Cudi, a Cleveland native, managed to release a new studio album, Passion, Pain and Demon Slayin’, at the end of last year. The album’s swinging single “Surfin’,” a tune that features horns and a reggae beat, clocked over 6 million Spotify streams and 4.5 million YouTube/VEVO views upon its initial release. (Niesel), 9 p.m., $26.50. Wolstein Center.


In honor of the five-year anniversary of its Farshid Moussavi-designed building, as well as its fall exhibitions, MOCA Cleveland is hosting a free community day today from noon to midnight. The day includes family-friendly activities, panel discussions with senior curator Andria Hickey and featured artists from the current exhibitions, which guests can explore throughout the day. Additionally, WRUW Studio-A-Rama presents live music every hour from 2 p.m. to midnight in Toby's Plaza, headlined at 10:30 p.m. by Sweet Spirit with special guests New Bomb Turks and This Moment in Black History. Following the event, the Happy Dog at the Euclid Tavern hosts a midnight afterparty. Admission is free. 2 p.m. Museum of Contemporary Art Cleveland. (Josh Usmani)


Fruition/The Deer

Allowing their already tight grip on bluegrass-oriented strings music to blossom into a more full-bodied rock ‘n’ roll trip, Fruition offers plenty for listeners to dig into on their latest album, Labor of Love. It’s an exciting collection of songs. It’s louder — more electric — and the new tunes seem like a solid progression for the growing band. “Santa Fe,” for example, dishes a soulful story from singer-guitarist-mandolinist Mimi Naja, with keys and reverb-drenched guitars painting a picture in the background. It’s still a far cry from radio-friendly “songwriting,” but there are some keen pop sensibilities flickering here and there, which doesn’t hurt the band. (Sandy), 8 p.m., $14 ADV, $16 DOS. Beachland Tavern.

Paul Weller

Paul Weller is a trailblazing anomaly in a lot of ways. As the former frontman of two largely influential British bands, the Jam and the Style Council, he’s played everything from angry punk rock and classic British pop to soul, funk, jazz, and R&B. Now, as a successful solo musician, Weller, who's nearly 60 years old, still makes records, tours and experiments with all sorts of different genres of music, proving that he’s never completely satisfied with his extensive back catalog, and he’s not interested in looking back or reforming either of his previous bands just for old times’ sake. This year, Weller released A Kind Revolution, his 25th studio album (his 13th solo album), an album that includes more piano ballads and fewer guitar-centered tracks. It’s largely influenced by jazz, funk and soul. Expect to hear plenty of songs from it at tonight's show. (Elizabeth Manno) 7 p.m., $35-$49. House of Blues.

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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