Avenged Sevenfold are one of heavy music's most polarizing groups. Last year's Nightmare was slammed by critics, but the album (the California band's fifth) was a hit with fans, debuting at No. 1. The record is a tribute of sorts to drummer James "The Rev" Sullivan, who died in 2009 from a prescription-drug cocktail. (Former Confide drummer Arin Ilejay is on the kit for the group's headlining slot at this year's Uproar Festival.) Avenge Sevenfold asked fans to put together the tour's set list on their website; the top vote-getters span their decade-long career, including favorites like "M.I.A.," "Bat Country," "A Little Piece of Heaven," and "Not Ready to Die." Fans should take note: This could be your last shot at seeing Avenged Sevenfold for a while, since they plan to rest for at least six months after the tour wraps before starting work on their next album. — Brian Baker
With Three Days Grace, Seether, Bullet for My Valentine, and Escape the Fate. 3 p.m. Wednesday, September 21. Blossom Music Center, Cuyahoga Falls. Tickets: $25-$105; call 800-745-3000 or visit livenation.com.
You probably wouldn't look at Marnie Stern and guess she's a guitar goddess. The small, blonde indie rocker plays loud and fast, and she manages a jagged, glass-sharp sound thanks to a distinctive tapping style. Her third album, a self-titled record that came out last year, is her most personal, but that doesn't mean ballads or schmaltz or acoustic numbers about fruit-filled pancakes. It's all about harsh melodies, squeals and shouts, and utterly naked lyrics. If Stern hasn't dented the mainstream yet, it's because people aren't quite sure how to categorize her. There's something rough-edged about the 35-year-old New Yorker, but she's also smart and starkly articulate. Stern may be progressive to a point, but not in a four-movement-song, wizard-outfit sort of way. She's experimental without the presumption that she'll shift the paradigm. There's no doubt that Stern writes pop songs. Theirs just kick more ass than everyone else's.— Lydia Munnell
With No Joy and Cloud Nothings. 9 p.m. Sunday, September 25. Happy Dog. Tickets: $10; call 216-651-9474 or visit happydogcleveland.com.
Atari Teenage Riot
Alec Empire, the mastermind behind Atari Teenage Riot, has continually defied the archetypes of electronic music, completely demolishing the genre's barriers in the most brazen ways possible. The band injects hardcore punk and thrash-metal severity and attitude into a landscape typically occupied by less-risky techno and electronica. The result is relentless and confrontational, like a pipe bomb exploding in your hands. But make no mistake: Atari Teenage Riot have something to say, often against unrestrained consumerism and faceless corporate greed. The band's new album, Is This Hyperreal?, is a musical onslaught, unyielding in its sonic anarchy and merciless against its targets on standout cuts like "Black Flags" and "Blood in My Eyes." Live, Empire and his crew practically carpet-bomb the audience with audio-visual overkill. You may not always agree with what they do or say, but just try looking away.— Norm Narvaja
7:30 p.m. Monday, September 26. Peabody's. Tickets: $20, $17 in advance;call 216-776-9999 or visit peabodys.com.
During his four-decade career, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Jackson Browne has let his heartfelt yarns and activism do most of the talking. With his personal artistry and reticence, Browne has never drawn gratuitous attention to himself — a trait that holds true on this solo acoustic tour. Paired with virtuoso guitarist David Lindley, Browne oddly yields to his longtime associate during much of his songbook's more intimate moments. The shows are loaded with three hours of hits, sprinkled-in rarities, and between-song candor. And there's no mistaking that Browne is still resilient in both voice and spirit during readings of "Your Bright Baby Blues," "The Barricades of Heaven," and "I'm Alive." Still, it's hard not to see the set lists as missed opportunities, with way too many neglected golden moments sitting in the dust and cobwebs. It's so fitting that Browne satisfies but still keeps us longing for more.— Peter Chakerian
7:30 p.m. Monday, September 26. EJ Thomas Hall, Akron. Tickets: $49.50, $59.50; call 330-972-7570 or visit ticketmaster.com.
The Low Anthem
Ben Knox Miller, frontman for the spooky low-fi roots trio the Low Anthem, has this thing about death. Not in a hip-hop my-time-ain't-long-here kinda way, but closer to how country singers back in the day used to sing about dying like it was something that could happen at any time, like how they may be getting peach pie after supper. Most of the characters found in the Rhode Island band's songs have a keen sense that they may not be around to keep that dentist appointment next month. The Low Anthem are moody, gloomy, and melancholic throughout their latest album, Smart Flesh. Miller leads his band through a spectral stroll that's part hippie contemplation, part folk-rock revival on songs like "Ghost Woman Blues" and "I'll Take Out Your Ashes." Like the Band, the Low Anthem squeeze an orchestra of sounds — wheezing organs, gliding saws, shuffling percussion — out of their tight little setup. Combined with Miller's croaky whisper, it's the sound of quiet desperation. — Michael Gallucci
8 p.m. Saturday, September 24. Kent Stage. Tickets: $18-$23;
call 330-677-5005 or visit kentstage.org.
Under the Radar
Singer-songwriter Mat Kearney is a lot like those other guys who have TV shows like Grey's Anatomy to thank for their careers. His light, hooky love songs perfectly slide into any situation that calls for soft-focus musings. His new album, Young Love, offers a bunch of new songs just waiting for their close-ups. Kearney plays House of Blues on Sunday.— Michael Gallucci