Bring the Ear Plugs

The week's best concerts, starting with the Drive-By Truckers

Tim Kasher

Tim Kasher enjoys one distinction among his indie-rock peers: He has released more concept albums than any of them over the past decade. Inspired by his divorce, Kasher's band Cursive first made some noise with the uncomfortably personal Cursive's Domestica in 2000, and he recorded the album of his career three years later with the cello-aided, meta-megalith The Ugly Organ. Cursive followed that up with another concept record, the horn-fueled small-town indictment Happy Hollow. Meanwhile, Kasher's other band, the Good Life, chronicled a breakup month-by-month on Album of the Year and augmented a self-penned film script with Help Wanted Nights. It should surprise no one that the inexhaustible Kasher finally outpaced his sidemen with a solo album, The Game of Monogamy, which comes out next week. Revisiting his refusal to grow up (last heard on Cursive's 2009 album Mama I'm Swollen) along with Happy Hollow's horn section, Kasher is as black-humored as ever. "When I was young I believed in love/But hey, I also believed in God," he sings at one point. But he's also super-catchy. "Cold Love" and the uncharacteristically peppy "I'm Afraid I'm Going to Die" are a long way from his tortured slow songs. Dan Weiss

Tim Kasher, with Good Morning Valentine and Brian Straw. 9 p.m. Thursday, September 30. Grog Shop. Tickets: $12, $10 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or go to


Few artists are capable of making great dance music — funky club-floor anthems that mix disco, house, dub, and electro. Even fewer are six-piece indie-rock bands that absolutely kill it onstage. The funky dance-punk troupe !!! (commonly known as Chk Chk Chk) have transformed rock clubs into raves for more than a dozen years now under the leadership of Nic Offer, who has some of the sweetest moves you've ever seen. "Dance music always hits me immediately," says Offer. "I was in a punk band years ago, and that gave me the same cathartic release at that age." !!!'s fourth album, the recently released Strange Weather, Isn't It?, features doses of electro R&B ("Steady as the Sidewalk Cracks"), synth-goth ("Jump Back"), and psychedelic pop ("Jamie, My Intentions Are Bass") that transport fans, no matter where they are, to fog-filled club floors. The band's live shows are dance-till-you-drop parties. "I can't describe what it's like to see us live, so just go ahead and believe whatever rumors you may have heard," says Offer. "All I can say is we give you everything. That's 110 percent, every show." Keith Gribbins

!!!, with Fol Chen. 9 p.m. Friday, October 1. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $18, $16 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or go to

Mike Posner

Mike Posner looks and talks a lot like one of those college guys who's finally on his own after being badgered for years by his parents to do his homework and cut the lawn. Free of parental shackles, he's binge drinking, high-five-slapping his frat buddies, and flirting with anyone who has boobs seven days a week now. So it's no surprise that the 22-year-old singer cut his first mixtape in his dorm room. It's also no surprise that he's pals with the brain-dead 3OH!3, whose popularity doesn't extend outside of college campuses. But at times Posner has a surprisingly soulful voice, which he flexes repeatedly on his debut album, 31 Minutes to Takeoff. But too bad he exercises it and his newfound freedom by being such a vindictive asshole. In the hit single "Cooler Than Me," he tears into an unimpressed girl who has better things to do with her time than hang out with this self-absorbed jerk. And in "Cheated," he sings, "Nobody told me I was dating a whore." Real mature, huh? Still, if binge-drinking, high-five-slapping, and skirt-chasing are your thing, you'll feel right at home when Posner headlines the Up in the Air Tour at House of Blues this weekend. Michael Gallucci

Up in the Air Tour with Mike Posner, DJ E-V, XV, Bad Rabbits, and Stephen Jerzak. 7 p.m. Sunday, October 3. House of Blues. Tickets: $30, $25 in advance; call 216-523-2583 or go to

Drive-By Truckers

After a dozen years and almost as many records, you pretty much know what you're getting with the Drive-By Truckers by now. There's lots of familiar scorching guitars and simmering rage on their latest album, The Big To-Do. The solid and sturdy Truckers plug in and tear through a set of songs that look at our dazed nation through the muddy ditches and sweltering factories they've gazed from so many times before. The CD's best tracks ("Daddy Learned to Fly" and "This Fucking Job," especially) connect the fairly conventional noise here with the full-band stomp & roll that drove 2008's Brighter Than Creation's Dark. Elsewhere, the band explores love as outsiders looking in, like on bassist Shonna Tucker's two-minute pop song "(It's Gonna Be) I Told You So," which sounds like little else in the Truckers' catalog and is a welcome addition to their boys' club noise. Still, the durable Patterson Hood cuts to the heart of this cross-country road trip with his Alabama twang and tales of losers pining for one more — possibly one last — chance at happiness. Gallucci

Drive-By Truckers, with Henry Clay People. 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 5. Musica. Tickets: $20; call 330-374-1114 or visit

JP, Chrissie & the Fairground Boys

After three decades fronting the Pretenders, Chrissie Hynde is finally stepping out for a new project. Akron's favorite daughter makes an inspired move with JP, Chrissie & the Fairground Boys, going rawer than she has in years on the band's debut album, Fidelity! The group's warm, vibrant songs recall early Pretenders albums. Maybe it has something to do with Hynde splitting leadership duties with Welshman JP Jones, who co-wrote and sings the record's 11 songs with Hynde. There's definite chemistry between the 59-year-old Hynde and her collaborator, who — as she famously states in Fidelity!'s opening song — is less than half her age. But don't call it a comeback. The celebrated vegan still has a lot to say as she approaches her AARP years. The Pretenders' 2008 album Break Up the Concrete was their best work since the mid-'80s. If JP, Chrissie & the Fairground Boys are as loose onstage as they are in the studio, it should be a great show, especially since Hynde always seems to crank it up a notch when she comes home. Ed Condran

JP, Chrissie & the Fairground Boys, with Amy Correia and Tom Evanchuck. 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 5. Grog Shop. Tickets: $30, $25 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or go to

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