The Get Up Kids
The big surprise — after increasingly slow band records, then solo ones, and finally a breakup — is that this influential Kansas City emo quintet can still get it up. The Get Up Kids recently reunited for There Are Rules, an album that doesn't try to fit in with the dozens of more successful bands that photocopied their sound over the years. Before they broke up in 2004, the group played punk music, performed acoustic songs, and even tried out some synth-pop along the way. Frontman Matt Pryor even recorded a children's album. Their first two records, 1997's Four Minute Mile and 1999's Something to Write Home About, inspired tons of teens back in the day, especially now-classics like "Don't Hate Me" ("cuz I'm still in love with you" goes the rest), "The One You Want," and the fantastically hooky "Red Letter Day." These semi-legends can do anything they want now. Be glad they chose to tense up their sound with fuzzy energy and New Wave pulse. — Dan Weiss
With Miniature Tigers and Brian Bonz. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 9. Grog Shop. Tickets: $22, $19 in advance; call216-321-5588 or go to grogshop.gs.
Chicago rapper Twista is best known for two things: 1) He made the Guinness Book of World Records in 1992 as the world's fastest rapper. 2) His only No. 1 single, "Slow Jamz," is one of the first songs Kanye West dropped a verse on (the track also appears on West's 2004 debut). The buzz helped Twista's 2004 album, Kamikaze, reach No. 1. Since then, he's released a string of so-so albums and singles that coast on his name. The latest, last year's The Perfect Storm, features enough guests (like Chris Brown and Waka Flocka Flame) to keep hip-hop heads mildly interested. But Twista can still thrill onstage, especially when he busts out his rapid-fire delivery. He'll leave you dizzy. — Michael Gallucci
With ProbCause. 8 p.m. Thursday, March 10. Kent Stage. Tickets: $18; call 330-677-5005 or go to kentstage.org.
Good Charlotte's Madden twins get so little love these days. It might have something to do with their Hollywood-style personal lives (singer Joel is married to Nicole Richie; brother Benji once dated Richie's BFF Paris Hilton). Or maybe it has to do with their music, which has steered in some decidedly less-punk directions (like dance and pop music) since their formation more than a dozen years ago. The band's latest album, 2010's Cardiology, makes a tentative return to their pop-punk roots. And while the sound is sculpted to a blindingly bright polish, songs like "Let the Music Play" and "Like It's Her Birthday" boast gigantic hooks that should loosen up a bit onstage. Older hits like "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous," "The Anthem," and "Girls & Boys" still kick too. — Gallucci
With Forever the Sickest Kids and This Century. 7:30 p.m. Saturday, March 12. House of Blues. Tickets: $26-$29.50; call 216-523-2583 or go to houseofblues.com.
Rock & roll is loaded with androgynous guys who dress up like gals — from David Bowie to Boy George to Bret Michaels. But there's a notable lack of women who dress up like men, even among the more popular lesbian icons. This puts JD Samson, frontladyman for the Brooklyn-based Men, in a class by herself. Samson (who was born in Cleveland) was a member of feminist punks Le Tigre before forming this artsy collective a few years ago. The band's debut album, the just-released Talk About Body, features a heavy dose of durable dance rock that should come alive onstage, especially with Samson shouting demands like "We want some options!" at you. This isn't revolutionary music by any means, but it is kinetic. And it sure beats the lazy rhetoric of Le Tigre's last album. — Weiss
With Eternity Zone and Fangs Out. 8 p.m. Sunday, March 13. Grog Shop. Tickets: $12, $10 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or go to grogshop.gs.
Once a phenom is in our musical midst, it's suddenly obvious that they're just what the crowd was ready for. This may explain why a substantial jazz talent, albeit an undeniably attractive one, leapfrogged Justin Bieber and snagged the Best New Artist award at this year's Grammys. Singer and bassist Esperanza Spalding has now officially crossed over, with her creative scruples firmly intact. The 26-year-old Portland-bred prodigy weaves Afro-Latin roots with scat-laced vocals and sure-fingered instrumental skills. But Spalding's rising profile hasn't cramped her experimental style. Her latest album, Chamber Music Society, was one of 2010's pleasant surprises. Merging her trio with a string ensemble, Spalding employs her multi-tracked vocals as a virtual third group, each faction crossing and reconfiguring with one another, resulting in a most moody and seductive set. Since the emergence of Norah Jones, keeping jazz relevant has been largely woman's work. Spalding is well-suited for the job. — Duane Verh
8 p.m. Wednesday, March 9. Finney Chapel in Oberlin. Tickets: $12-$30; call 440-775-8169 or go to oberlin.edu.