The Clarks

Better Than Everfine Festival, with O.A.R., Antigone Rising, and others. Saturday, July 31, at Tower City Amphitheater.

Romeo & Juliet Presented by the Cleveland Shakespeare Festival at the Tri-C West Campus and Wade Oval Amphitheatre Through August 14; 877-280-1646,
The Clarks' career took off when, by all rights, it should have sputtered and died. Songs like "Cigarette," a Rust Belt-specific salute to big hair and smoking, made the band the kings of Pittsburgh in the early '90s. They followed the path of such earlier 'Burghers as Donnie Iris and the Iron City Houserockers, signing to MCA and recording in Cleveland. Three years of touring in support of 1996's Someday Maybe created pockets of fans across the country, but they weren't enough to stop MCA from dropping the group.

Major indie Razor & Tie snapped them up, teaming them with producer Justin Niebank (who has produced Blues Traveler and engineered George Strait) for 2000's Let It Go, the kind of filler-free rock album that comes along once every 20 careers. The unofficial fifth Clark, Niebank reteamed with the band a third time for the new Fast Moving Cars. It's the sound of a Dodge Charger driving into a western sunset: After the fuzzed-out bass overdrive of "Hell on Wheels," a Hammond organ and pedal-steel guitar set the tone with spry twang. You can take the boys into alt-country, but you can't take the rock out of the boys.

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