11 Concerts to Catch This Weekend

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FRIDAY, JAN. 23

Less Than Jake

Still riding the ska punk wave that crested in the late 1990s (Less Than Jake having been formed in 1992), this band is primed for another album release this week. A glance across Less Than Jake’s progression over the years reveals moves toward fuller playing. To be sure, they’ve maintained their heaviness, but the songwriting and compositional structure seems full-bodied on later albums. Check out the duality of modern-era tunes like “Younger Lungs” and “Goodbye, Mr. Personality” for some perspective on the band’s ability to keep the ska movement going strong over the years. Oh, and a final tip for the uninitiated: The band’s name comes from a pet the drummer had growing up, which was always treated better than every other member of the family. (Eric Sandy), 8 p.m., $22.50 ADV, $25 DOS. House of Blues.




Crop Rocks the Music Box

Crop Bistro & Bar chef Steve Schimoler is a big fan of rock 'n' roll. He plays in two bands — Cream of the Crop and Crop Dusters, a new act influenced by Jerry Garcia and Merl Saunders. So it makes sense that he would partner with Music Box Supper Club, the new music venue and restaurant located in the Flats, for a special dinner and concert. Schimoler, who's appeared on Food Nation with Bobby Flay and PBS’ Master Chef series, will prepare a four-course meal and then perform with both his bands. (Jeff Niesel) 7 p.m., $50. Music Box Supper Club.

Night Ranger



Night Ranger's current lineup still features three members from the original five-piece lineup that ruled the Billboard charts in the '80s and includes bassist/vocalist Jack Blades, drummer/vocalist Kelly Keagy and guitarist Brad Gillis. These days, guitarist Keri Kelli trades searing leads with Gillis in the slot formerly occupied by Jeff Watson. The band has had a few different keyboard players since the silently mysterious Alan "Fitz" Fitzgerald departed from the group in 2003. Eric Levy, the latest addition on keys, fits in well and even has enough of a visual resemblance to Fitz to make you do a double take. Despite the changes in the lineup, the classic Night Ranger sound, from the dueling twin guitars to the harmonic blend of the vocals, remains intact as you remember it. (Matt Wardlaw), 8 p.m. Hard Rock Rocksino.

Silent Disco

Chances are, you've encountered a silent disco at some point. If you haven't, all you need to know is that the novelty concert experience involves wearing headphones and dancing to the music. That's it. And yet, the silent disco has become a fad. At tonight's event, two DJs will be battling each other through different channels on the headphones. Essentially, you'll have a split dance floor dancing to two different beats. Should be entertaining, even if you just wanna sit at the bar and watch. (Niesel), 9 p.m., $8. Grog Shop.

Vibe in Color

Vibe & Direct, who will headline tonight’s Vibe in Color event in the Ballroom, is among the city’s most dynamic jam bands. These guys — Mike Miller on guitar, Doug Rab on guitar, Danny Giannetto on drums and Marty Calkins on the mic — create highly visual music in an extremely danceable atmosphere. Songs like “Elysian Fields” evoke the musicians’ jazzier inclinations, while “Psychadelevator” sports a more upbeat feel. In these examples and plenty others, the bands tends to branch off into improvisatory waters, with Miller throwing down mind-bending lead guitar work and Calkins going apeshit on anything from a djembe to the rafters. This is at once a percussive, tightly rhythmic band, and also a melodious journey. (Sandy), 9:30 p.m., $5 ADV, $8 DOS. Beachland Ballroom.

SATURDAY, JAN. 24

2015 Tri-C High School Rock Off Semifinals


As a way of nurturing and supporting the talent native to Northeast Ohio, the folks at the concert promotions behemoth Live Nation devote what is traditionally a slow time of the year to this annual event, a battle of the bands that pits high-school bands against one another in a competition to crown one final winner. Held lately at House of Blues, the event returns to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where bands will battle it out each weekend before one winner is crowned in the Final Exam that takes place on Feb.7. (Niesel), 5:30 p.m., $10. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Best Cleveland Albums of 2014 featuring Jessica Lea Mayfield

We’ve been fans of Kent-based singer-songwriter Jessica Lea Mayfield since the days when she used to record and tour as Chittlin. Last year, she issued her terrific new album, Make My Head Sing, on ATO Records, a label with national distribution. She and bassist/husband Jesse Newport recorded it down in Nashville. The first single “Oblivious,” a noisy track that sounds a bit like a cross between the Black Keys and Neil Young, was so anticipated, Rolling Stone magazine premiered it. Mayfield performs tonight at Mahall's at a concert acknowledging her achievement. (Niesel), 9 p.m., $12 ADV, $15 DOS. Mahall's 20 Lanes.

Ekoostik Hookah

The grandfathers of Ohio’s expansive jam band scene — culturally and musically — have always maintained close ties to the Cleveland area. From 1991’s Under Full Sail to this year’s sweetly groovin’ Brij, Ekoostik Hookah have kept their fire burning across time. Check out “Whiskey Woman” for a fine example of the hookah-laden chops still hooked around each of the band’s compositional outings. Given the band’s personal history, rife with small shows and Hookahville festivals alike, every chance to be a part of the fun is a necessary diversion from life out there. The band isn’t working on a new studio album but will play a few new songs at the show. “We never know what we’re going to play,” says band leader Dave Katz. “We could play the same venue four nights in a row and you’d never hear the same song.” (Sandy), 9 p.m., $15. The Tangier.

Gatlin

Over the past 20 years, the band has had three different line-ups. For the upcoming 20th anniversary show, all eight members who have played in the band will perform with the group at different times throughout the night. "For the last reunion, Pat [Ols] didn't come back for the reunion, and every time one or two people have missed it," says band leader Don DiBiase. "This is the first time we'll all be in the same room." He's pretty excited about the show. "I have a new line of merch I just ordered," he says. "I have a big stage show in the works. We're going to pull out songs that people haven't heard. The 20-year thing is a first. The inspiration has been Skinny from Mushroomhead. I've been stepping out of my own studio and producing with Skinny. Watching this guy do masks and his stage shows and how he deals with nine musicians is so inspiring. I've been in my cave producing. I wanted to be that guy that plays out again. I did the design and prints. I have 20 guys working for me. Once all eight band members confirmed, then I wanted to spare no expense." (Niesel), 8 p.m., Agora.

Ohio Sky CD Release

Ohio Sky began the recording work for The Big Distraction, which will be released Jan. 24, by cutting "Vulture Cascade" live at Suma Recording Studio in Painesville, mixing it live to tape (a first for them), and leaving the studio feeling great. Any trepidation they may have had about the process disappeared completely. And while that song ended up as the last track on the album, its moody, reverb-soaked atmosphere set a precedent for the rest of the trip. One can hear the heart and soul of Ohio Sky in that tune (oh, and that heavy, heavy coda ...). The band — Vinny DiFranco (vocals/guitars), Michael Bashur (bass), Eric Bambic (drums) and Patrick Finegan (keys/synth) — has notched a strong foothold in the Cleveland music scene. 8 p.m., $12. House of Blues Cambridge Room.

The Strange Familiar

Tonight's show with Akron pop band the Strange Familiar should be a real treat at the band will be paired with a string quartet made up of area symphony members. The band will perform songs from its latest album, The Day the Light Went Out. In the past, it's had its songs appear on TV shows such Pretty Little Liars, The Vampire Diaries, The Biggest Loser, Cedar Cove and Secret Life of the American Teenager. "We’re really busy writing new songs," says guitarist Jeff Andrea of the band that also features his wife, singer Kira Leyden. "[The single] 'Rain' has started to get quite a bit of attention at Christian Radio — so we’re going to be releasing a new single to that format sometime in the next couple months. Some doors have been opening in that world lately and it feels like a natural fit for us — we’ll see where it goes." Andrea and Leyden have also been providing music of the youth ministry at their church, Immaculate Heart of Mary, in Cuyahoga Falls. And recently, Lifeteen, a national youth ministry program, has included The Day the Light Went Out in its May 2015 subscription materials being sent out to 1500 parish youth groups across the country. (Niesel), 8 p.m., $15. Akron Civic Theatre.

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