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This Week's Concert Picks


More Bounce to the Ounce

2K Sports Bounce Tour at House of Blues on Thursday, Dec. 4

Q-Tip's new CD, The Renaissance, marks the first time the rapper has released an album in nine years. He was all set to release one back in 2002, before his record company pulled the plug on it. With a new label, revived energy and some funky-fresh beats (which sound an awful lot like his old ones), Q-Tip hasn't seemed this excited to be in the game since A Tribe Called Quest called it quits back in 1998. The Renaissance is stuffed with classic old-school beats (kinda jazzy, kinda hot-buttered soul) and razor-sharp rhymes. In a way, it's Q-Tip's most forward-thinking album since Tribe's 1990 debut, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, and a welcome return. Tip headlines the 2K Bounce Tour, which also includes Chicago's Cool Kids, whose EP The Bake Sale is one of the year's best records. The MySpace-blessed duo crib beats from hip-hop's formative years and rap about videogames and their hair. Super-fly! The 2K Sports Bounce Tour with Q-Tip, the Cool Kids and the Knux stops at House of Blues (308 Euclid Ave., 216.523.2583). Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets: $25-$36. - Michael Gallucci

Jeremy Enigk

Former Sunny Day Real Estate frontman Jeremy Enigk is no stranger to playing solo. The Seattle-based musician released his first solo album during a Sunny Day hiatus in 1996, following it with several more since the band's eventual breakup in 2000. Enigk has been touring and recording ever since, composing introspective, hushed songs that often sound like grown-up, evolved versions of Sunny Day's formative emo numbers. They're frequently very beautiful, particularly onstage, although Enigk occasionally settles for quiet emotion and dullness. The Missing Link, released in 2007, and its 2006 predecessor World Waits are delicate and precise, often achieving moments of genuine longing that tug at the heartstrings. Enigk seems to still appeal to old-school fans who can't stop singing "In Circles" all these years later. Nicholas Megalis opens at 8:30 p.m. at the Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124). Tickets: $14 advance, $16 day of show. - Emily Zemler

Forever the Sickest Kids

Forever the Sickest Kids accomplished more in six months than most bands accomplish in six years. In 2007, less than a week after forming, the group - guitarist Marc Stewart, singer-guitarist Caleb Turman, singer-bassist Austin Bello, keyboardist Kent Garrison, drummer Kyle Burns and lead singer Jonathan Cook - recorded and released their first song on the Purevolume Website. The single, "Hey Brittany," was just a taste of the band's infectious, dance-inducing music. Not only did it bring Forever the Sickest Kids a huge online following, it also brought the members major-label offers, something none of them expected. "When you record a song and put one out, you're just like, 'Cool. Hopefully a couple hundred kids or thousand will listen to it,'" says Stewart during a recent day off from touring. "When stuff like that happens, you're blown away." After signing to Universal/ Motown, the band released the Television Off, Party On EP in the summer of 2007. This past summer, the band released the full-length Underdog Alma Mater, which is full of melodic pop songs that will stay in your head all day. The album's first single, "She's a Lady," is an everything-I-love-to-hate-about-you ode to a certain girl, and "Whoa Oh! (Me vs. Everyone)" is 100-percent bottled youthful exuberance. With its swift move to the major labels and its instant Internet popularity, Forever the Sickest Kids is a band that some have written off, but these kids don't care. Their only goal is to have fun. "If you're out on the road, and you're not having a good time, it's really going to get to you," says Stewart. "We just go out and are ourselves and like to make each other laugh." The Morning Light and Exit Cleveland open at 5:30 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $13 advance, $15 day of show. - Brittany Moseley

18th Dye

By now you've probably caught wind of the controversies surrounding Smashing Pumpkins' 20th anniversary tour - not playing the tunes audiences paid to hear, jamming out for 20-plus minutes on numbers no one wants to hear, Billy Corgan railing at the audience for not enjoying the show. Don't expect that treatment out of fellow re-united '90s alt-rock band 18th Dye. The band released two full-lengths on Matador in the mid-'90s that owe a clear debt to forebears like Sonic Youth or (their early champions in) Yo La Tengo. After nearly a decade and a half of inactivity, the Danish/German three-piece has returned with the recently released Amorine Queen and doesn't miss a beat. The new album sounds completely of a piece with the band's earlier records, with "Soft the Hard Way" and "Text Is My Killer" retaining their abrasive tones and melodic core. Considering that the band wasn't exactly Matador's biggest seller during its initial foray, it's difficult to peg 18th Dye's return as some sort of nostalgia trip. Let's call it the return of a band that needed almost 15 years to figure out it left plenty unsaid. The Muttering Retreats and Babylon A-Go-Go open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $7. - Chris Drabick

Manchester Orchestra

MTV might not break bands anymore, but with the help of certain television shows like Gossip Girl, acts like Manchester Orchestra have been able to get their names out to millions of viewers. There's a certain type of maturity in Manchester Orchestra's songs and lyrics that the band has perfected at such a young age. Everyone should be able to relate to the songs' messages of spiritual realization. Expect to hear tunes from the band's current EP/DVD, Let My Pride Be What's Left Behind, as well as some songs from an album due out in the spring. Kevin Devine, Dead Confederate and All Get Out - friends from their label, Favorite Gentleman - open at 8 p.m. at Musica (51 East Market St., 330.374.1114). Tickets: $11 advance, $13 at door. - Erika Schramm

Glen Phillips

As the frontman for the on-again/off-again Toad the Wet Sprocket, low-key singer-songwriter Glen Phillips benefited from the alt-rock explosion of the '90s that turned Toad into a household name. His solo career hasn't fared as well (perhaps that's why Toad reunites every couple of years), but that hasn't kept Phillips from trying. His latest project, a super-mellow band called Plover, finds him sharing singing and songwriting duties with Garrison Starr and Neilson Hubbard, two like-minded musicians who do the singer-songwriter thing well enough on their own. But Phillips isn't opposed to branching out - he provides backing vocals on MC Frontalot's latest nerdcore endeavor. Expect Phillips to stick to solo material and the occasional Toad number at this show, which pairs him with singer-songwriter Jonatha Brooke, who's touring behind an album of Woody Guthrie songs. It all starts at 8 p.m. at the Kent Stage (175 E. Main St., 330.677.5005). Tickets: $20 advance, $23 day of show. - Jeff Niesel

Driver Side Impact

The roots of Driver Side Impact go back to 2004 when guitarist Jack McGinty first formed the local hardcore/emo band. They quickly self-released the ironically titled EP We Will Disappear and then signed with locally based HM Management, which helped secure a deal with Chicago-based Victory Records, home to many of the country's up-and-coming emo and pop-punk bands. While the band's Victory debut, The Very Air We Breathe, got it lumped together with bands like future tourmates Bayside and Mayday Parade, the group decided to go for something different with its new album Lion, which commences with "Walking on Water," a song with guitars that alternately chug along and swirl with sonic intensity while singer Branden Lanhals defiantly declares "you won't tear me down." The tune sounds a bit like a rowdier Foo Fighters number and even features some fine harmony vocals. The band has been touring regionally and plays a rare West Side show at 9:30 p.m. at Brothers Lounge (11607 Detroit Ave., 216.226.2767). - Niesel

The Classic Crime

It must have something to do with the weather and its effect on the artistic psyche. Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, Hendrix, even Sir Mix-A-Lot and that whole, you know, grunge movement, have come from Seattle. Add the Classic Crime to the list. Its sophomore effort, The Silver Cord, even contains a moderately rocking meditation on the complacent comfort of home versus the endless teasing doubt that comes with as-yet-unfulfilled dreams. "I find the second I try to pull away, I'm thrown back in line," singer Matt MacDonald croons on "Seattle." The Warped Tour veterans have carved out a niche as pseudo-faith-based, emo-tinged alt-punks. Yet beneath the ever-darkening exterior, there's a lyrical ray of hope shining behind the swirling, melodic melancholia. Less sing-along and more rhythm-propelled indie apocalypse, the Classic Crime once boasted the highest debut sales in the history of Tooth & Nail Records. With its current Atticus Tour, the five-piece is on its first national headlining run, one finally establishing it as defiantly, complexly uncompromising. A Change of Pace and Tyler Read open at 7:30 p.m. at the Agora Ballroom (5000 Euclid Ave., 216.881.2221). Tickets: $9.99 advance, $12 day of show. - Julie Seabaugh

Don Ross

This accomplished acoustic guitarist gives the impression that there are two musicians (or at least an overdubbed track) performing on his tunes. But by spending some time with his live clips on YouTube, you realize it's just him. Ross' sound comes from his signature right-hand technique, which he achieves by hammering the bass strings as he goes through chord progressions, using their resonance to fill in his complicated riffs. Born in Montreal in 1960, Ross released his first recording in 1986, three years after graduating from York University in Toronto. After winning the U.S. National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship for the first time in 1988 (he also won in 1996), he signed with Duke Street Records and went on tour to promote his first U.S. release, Bearing Straight. He's switched labels often over the years, currently signed to the indie jazz label Candy Rat. Ross is well-known for using alternative guitar tunings on his songs. Traveling with him on tour is his wife and labelmate Brooke Miller, a talented singer-songwriter and guitarist in her own right. Miller's voice has an uncanny resemblance to former Fleetwood Mac keyboardist Christine McVie, but her style is folksier, which has elicited comparisons to Sheryl Crow and Natalie Merchant. The show starts at 8 p.m. at Wilbert's (812 Huron Rd. East, 216.902.4663. Tickets: $15. - Ernest Barteldes

Adrian Legg

Pinning guitarist Adrian Legg down to a single genre is as futile as trying to nail Jell-O to the wall. Folk, jazz, classical and rock are fused, blended and recombined - not just in the Brit acoustic master's repertoire but inside the songs themselves. Evoking the folk/jazz/blues roots of '60s British groups such as the Pentangle, Legg takes such cross-weaving to the point where it's hard to tell where one influence starts and another one ends. His chops have garnered much press and peer praise over the years. Readers of Guitar Player magazine voted Legg "Best Fingerstyle Guitarist" four years running. He was christened Acoustic Guitarist of the Decade by British mag Guitar, and has taken his rightful place onstage alongside fretboard royalty Eric Johnson and Joe Satriani as a member of Satriani's celebrated G3 tour. Legg is overdue for a new release, his last one being a DVD addition to his instructional catalog. Both 2004's Inheritance and 2003's Guitar Bones showcase his eclectic bent and taste for simple, elegant melodies ripe for his inventive embellishment. In any case, Legg makes his own bias clear: "Playing live is the whole point." The show starts at 9 p.m. at the Winchester (12112 Madison Ave., 216.226.5681). Tickets: $10. - Duane Verh

Mac Lethal

Don't let his rap name fool you. David McCleary Sheldon isn't a gangsta rapper. The 27-year-old MC is actually a white dude from Kansas City, Missouri, who's been working nonstop for 10 years in the underground as Mac Lethal. From fighting off rappers at Scribble Jam (he won the festival's rap battle in 2002) to essentially living on the road since his 2002 debut, Men Are From Mars, Porn Stars Are From Earth, one thing is perfectly clear: Mac's paid his dues and then some. While he may have just been a blip on the radar before, all of his hard work is starting to pay off. Last year, he finally dropped his first record for Minneapolis indie powerhouse, Rhymesayers Entertainment, after being signed to the label since 2004. 11:11 captured Lethal in his true form - a sarcastic wisecracker who's not afraid to show his insecurities. His unique balance of mockery and heartbreak won him praise from critics and a slew of new fans who connected with his down-to-earth approach. To top it off, his song "Sun Storm" was featured on Randy Jackson's new television show, America's Best Dance Crew. The unlikely placement not only exposed Lethal to a mainstream audience but sparked a surge in sales for the album. Whether or not you like his rhymes, Mac Lethal's work ethic is an inspiration to struggling artists everywhere. Grieves, Soulcrate Music, DJ Sku and Injektion XL open at 8 p.m. at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Blvd., 216.321.5588). Tickets: $10. - Eddie Fleisher

Hamell on Trial

"Protest songs" are thought to have been a 1960s development - songs by Bob Dylan, Phil Ochs and Buffy Sainte-Marie focused on American society's ills (racism, war, etc.). It wasn't new, really - folk and blues performers Woody Guthrie and Big Bill Broonzy did similar tunes in the '30s and '40s, but their '60s counterparts brought social commentary closer to the mainstream. That tradition thrives still with the U.K.'s Billy Bragg and Syracuse, New York's Hamell on Trial. As a lad, Ed Hamell decided bands were as common as blades of grass and, infected by punk rock's DIY ethos, declared himself to be a "band." Hamell bashes his beloved acoustic guitar with the liberated fury of Johnny Ramone (albeit not with Johnny's right-wing politics) while flashing a lyrical middle-finger salute at contemporary plagues like mediocrity, senseless brutality and Ann Coulter. Subtlety isn't Hamell's strong point - his latest platter, on Ani DiFranco's Righteous Babe label, is called The Terrorism of Everyday Life - but at least he doesn't go heavy on irony or mince words. He says what he feels. The Kristoffer Carter Show opens at 8 p.m. at Beachland Ballroom (15711 Waterloo Rd., 216.383.1124) Tickets: $12. - Mark Keresman

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