The Devil Makes Three
Don't start thinking the Devil Makes Three are a grindcore metal band just because of their name. The Santa Cruz trio plays old-timey bluegrass music — acoustic guitar, stand-up bass, banjo, no drummer — pulled by a distinct country/blues/folk current. Guitarist Pete Bernhard, bassist Lucia Turino, and banjo player Cooper McBean boast a visceral punk ethic that energizes them in the studio and amps them up onstage. The Devil Makes Three's audience is so vital to their success that the band has interspersed two live albums among its three studio recordings. For the past decade, the group's Violent-Femmes-meets-Mississippi-John-Hurt-at-Camper-Van-Beethoven's-jugband-hootenanny sound has attracted fans from every conceivable genre, and they show no signs of taking their punkabilly boots off the gas anytime soon. Get ready for some stomping and smashing this weekend. — Brian Baker
With Phillip Roebuck and the Chardon Polka Band. 8 p.m. Friday, May 25. Grog Shop. Tickets: $15, $12 in advance; call 216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.
Excellent songwriting, energetic performances, and dynamic sets should be enough to draw music fans to Rubblebucket's show at the Beachland this weekend. But three words seal the deal: Giant. Robot. Puppets. Alex Toth, the Brooklyn octet's trumpet player, says the 12-foot puppets with giant heads, foam innards, and light-up eyes weren't supposed to make it much past the band's New Year's Eve concert: "We thought if they last six shows, we got our money's worth." But emergency trips to hardware stores have extended their stay to 40 stops on the group's current tour. In addition to the new visual elements, Rubblebucket are testing three new songs in preparation for an EP scheduled to be out this fall. "Sound-wise we took another step in solidifying who we are and who we want to be musically," says Toth. "We're constantly rejuvenating it, reinvigorating it, and discovering what it is." — Adam Burroughs
With Kitschy. 9 p.m. Friday, May 25. Beachland Ballroom. Tickets: $14, $12 in advance; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
Before going solo a decade ago, Brooklyn rapper Talib Kweli was best known for his collaborations with Mos Def in Black Star and Hi-Tek in Reflection Eternal. His debut solo album, 2002's Quality, steered Kweli toward the mainstream with the Kanye West-produced single "Get By." From there his career took off, thanks to high-profile gigs on Chappelle's Show, an opening slot on the Beastie Boys' 2004 tour, and a couple of chart-topping records, including his 2007 major-label debut, Eardrum. A Jay-Z endorsement didn't hurt either. Apparently the dude never sleeps: His list of collaborations and side projects over the past 14 years is about a mile long. (He also runs his own label, Blacksmith Records.) Kweli is working on his sixth solo record — plus, there's a Black Star reunion in the works, stemming from a run of shows he and Def played last year. Kweli's Prisoner of Conscious Tour comes to town this week. — Eddie Fleisher
With J. Pinder. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 30. Grog Shop. Tickets: $25; call 216-321-5588 or visit grogshop.gs.
Plants and Animals
These Montreal indie rockers have a lot in common with fellow Canadians Arcade Fire. They both make sweeping semi-pop songs adorned with sounds that don't go for the typical riff-rock crunch. They favor moody buildups over smack-in-the-face obvious. And singer Warren Spicer sounds a little like Win Butler. One thing they don't have in common is their size. Unlike the more famous Grammy winners, who have like 27 people in their group, Plants and Animals make all their noise with just three guys. Their third album, The End of That, amps the guitars a little more — or maybe it just seems that way. They certainly sound more at ease turning up from time to time. They also seem more open to the idea of working within their songs rather than around them, so there's not too much empty space. That drive gives The End of That the oomph that makes Plants and Animals sound like they can be as big as Arcade Fire. — Gallucci
With Nights and Bethesda. 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 30. Beachland Tavern. Tickets: $10; call 216-383-1124 or visit beachlandballroom.com.
What better way to kick off Memorial Day weekend than with the B-52's, a band capable of making even a workday commute on a snow-covered February morning seem like a sun-kissed summer party? Add Cleveland's annual Great American Rib Cook-Off to the mix, and we could be looking at one of the year's best summer parties ... and summer doesn't even officially start for another month. The B-52's are celebrating their 35th anniversary the same way they celebrated their 34th, 33rd, and 32nd anniversaries: by playing a ton of open-air concerts packed with lots of hits. Very few groups can fill a show with so many ass-shaking classics like "Rock Lobster," "Dance This Mess Around," "Planet Claire," "Private Idaho," "Love Shack, "Roam," and "Channel Z." Yeah, it's been four years since they released Funplex, their seventh album and first in 16 years. Doesn't matter — you'd just complain if they started playing a bunch of new stuff you didn't want to hear. Their Friday-night show at Jacobs Pavilion should be about 97 percent filler-free. Your $5 rib fest ticket (and kids under 12 are free!) gets you general admission access, or you can upgrade to reserved seats for $36. — Michael Gallucci
9 p.m. Friday, May 25. Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica. Tickets: $36;
call 800-745-3000 or visit livenation.com.