- American by birth, but British in look and sound, Ambulance Ltd strikes a chord at the Grog Shop on Wednesday.
It was only a matter of time before Vermont glam-punks River City Rebels brought a New York Doll into their fold. Their trash guitars and hedonist aesthetic was practically forged from the template the Dolls created three decades ago. The Rebels' latest album, Hate to Be Loved, is produced by Sylvain Sylvain, the mighty Dolls' will-work-for-credit guitarist. "Bring us sex and drugs," beg the Rebels, whose out-of-tune singer Dan "Bopper" O'Day shares David Johansen's tin ear and busted voice. Sylvain's bludgeoning behind-the-boards action only fuels the flashy fire. River City Rebels are at Peabody's Down Under (2083 East 21st Street) at 8 p.m. Tickets are $12; call 216-241-5555.
Friday, April 8
A pair of suicidal Turks living in Germany -- one a twenty-something girl who slashes her wrists in public, the other a fortysomething alcoholic bum who drives his car into a brick wall -- get married in the disarming Head-On, even though they barely know each other, let alone love each other. She wants to escape her domineering and traditional family; he has nothing else going on with his life. Soon, however, they fall in love, and their sham marriage (which includes plenty of drugging, boozing, and sleeping with other people) becomes something more emotionally taxing than either bargained for. And while the characters' lives don't end quite as tragically as they could have, you'll nonetheless feel their ongoing pain. Head-On is at the Cleveland Cinematheque (11141 East Boulevard) at 9:15 tonight, 5:30 p.m. tomorrow, and 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $8; call 216-421-7450.
Saturday, April 9
It doesn't just seem like Fall Out Boy has played Cleveland, like, a half-dozen times the past year; it has played Cleveland a half-dozen times the past year (give or take a performance). But the band also has a new album, From Under the Cork Tree, due next month, so return fans will hear the latest tunes by the pensive Chicago pop-punks. Joining them is the Academy Is . . . , whose debut album, Almost Here, is a sweeping, if somewhat generic, entry in the increasingly crowded emo playing field. Show time is 12:30 p.m. at House of Blues, 308 Euclid Avenue. Tickets are $17.50; call 216-241-5555.
Sunday, April 10
He can't hear. He doesn't talk to anybody. And he can't see for shit. But that Tommy sure plays a mean pinball! And now an exhibit based on the Who's 1969 rock opera is at the Rock Hall. Tommy: The Amazing Journey includes Pete Townshend's handwritten notes detailing the album's songs and concept, tour programs, posters, instruments, and Roger Daltrey's suit from the 1974 movie version. You can see it (but no feeling or touching) at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (1 Key Plaza) through March 2006. It's open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily. Admission is $20, $11 for kids; call 216-515-1930.
Monday, April 11
Don't be fooled by the floral prints and girly titles of Jennifer Chiaverini's Elm Creek Quilts series of historical novels. Beneath the surface of the seventh book, The Sugar Camp Quilt, simmers a suspense-packed tale set against the background of the Underground Railroad. "There's an oral tradition about quilts used as signals," explains Chiaverini. "Some patterns were said to give clues to escaping slaves. It could be a fairly subtle signal, because quilts were everywhere." And you don't have to be familiar with past entries (like last year's The Master Quilter, which just came out in paperback) to jump into the series. Chiaverini writes each book so that new readers won't feel left out. But old fans are rewarded for their allegiance: Sugar Camp's protagonist was a minor character in the fourth novel. "When I started out, I wasn't planning a series," admits Chiaverini. "So I've been able to bring in a whole new group of characters or explore a character's ancestor. The possibilities are endless." Chiaverini talks about and signs her books at the Barlow Community Center (41 South Oviatt Street in Hudson) at 7 p.m. Admission is free; call 330-342-1750.
Tuesday, April 12
We've learned everything we know about poker from Sara Rue, the onetime-chubby-now-kinda-cute star of Less Than Perfect, a sitcom that's been on ABC for an inexplicable three seasons. We've never seen her show, but we have seen Rue kick ass on Celebrity Poker Showdown, and she knows her stuff. Apparently, so does Matt Hagan, a self-proclaimed "semiprofessional poker player" who participated in the 2004 World Series of Poker. He'll share tips, stories, and strategies (but no winnings) at tonight's "All-In: Adventures at the World Series of Poker" program at Lakewood Public Library's Main Auditorium, 15425 Detroit Avenue in Lakewood. It starts at 7 p.m. Admission is free. Call 216-226-8275 for more information.
Wednesday, April 13
Speaking of kicking butts (see Tuesday), today is National Kick Butts Day, and HealthSpace is celebrating by offering free activities to prevent kids from smoking. Interactive presentations, discussions, and educational demonstrations -- which undoubtedly will pile on the death stats and pics of tobacco-ravaged lungs -- are planned. It happens from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at HealthSpace Cleveland, 8911 Euclid Avenue: call 216-231-5010.
Brooklyn's Ambulance Ltd sounds nothing at all like the Beastie Boys, They Might Be Giants, or any other combo from the N.Y.C. borough. In fact, the foursome doesn't sound like it's even from this side of the pond. Grabbing inspiration from guitar-wielding Brits the Kinks and My Bloody Valentine, Ambulance Ltd makes post-punk rock that's both sleepy and exhilarating on its first album, LP. Openers the M's hail from Chicago and also make a pretty racket. On their self-titled debut, they evoke the sound and strut of British bands that prefer their guitars choppy and their tunes oblique. They're at the Grog Shop (2785 Euclid Heights Boulevard in Cleveland Heights) at 9 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 216-241-5555.