The power-pop pride of Rockford, Illinois, is still touring 40 years into its career. Cheap Trick knows no other way — or, at least, its members have no other marketable skills. It ain't the same as it once was. Singer Robin Zander appeared on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno a few weeks ago, puttering around the microphone in full-on modern-Ozzy mode: circular '60s sunglasses; long, thin hair; and vaguely post-electroshock daze. But guitarist and primary songwriter Rick Nielsen still looked sprightly, bopping around the stage in a baseball cap and a bow tie. And the band's garish arena rock has aged surprisingly well. On balance, Cheap Trick is still a pretty fucking cool band.
Saturday, May 25, at VooDoo Lounge (Harrah's Casino, 1 Riverboat Drive, 816-472-7777)
Sonic Spectrum Tribute to Lou Reed and the Velvet Underground
What's the old saying about the Velvet Underground? That it sold only a couple of thousand records, but everybody who bought one started their own band? That old chestnut still rings pretty true today, for better or worse. A lot of pseuds are out there trying to obscure their lack of talent and work ethic by frontin' like they're Lou Reed. But a lot of your favorite bands probably wouldn't sound the way they do if they hadn't eaten up and absorbed four VU records, the live one and Reed's solo stuff from the '70s. Here, a handful of local performers — Anna Cole, the Conquerors and Sterling Morrison's Ghost — have a go at the discography.
Sunday, May 26, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
Deal's Gone Bad
Classic soul grooves — a little Sam Cooke, a little Stax — mingle with reggae and rocksteady in the music of Deal's Gone Bad. The Chicago group's leisurely jams tend to emphasize boozy parties over weed, and there's a delightful lack of fake Rastaman vocals. In other words: all the good parts of reggae and none of the faux-political idiot-college-boy-stoner stuff that pollutes the genre.
Friday, May 24, at Davey's Uptown Ramblers Club (3402 Main, 816-753-1909)
Japandroids' Celebration Rock was rightly one of the most, er, celebrated records of 2012. The Canadian duo (fact: 80 percent of Canadian bands today are duos) reinforces its minimalist, drum-and-guitar structure with an aesthetic that values maximum strength: power chords, emo bluster, anthemic choruses. There are also some killer lines, like Remember that night you were already in bed/Said 'Fuck it'/ Got up to drink with me instead? Imagine if the Replacements were weaned on '90s punk, and you're in the ballpark. Noisy shoegaze group A Place to Bury Strangers opens.
Wednesday, May 29, at the Granada (1020 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-842-1390)
Drive-By Truckers, with the Old 97's
I've never had a bad time at a Drive-By Truckers or an Old 97's show, which is somewhat remarkable considering that it seems nary a summer has passed in KC without one of the two acts coming through town. They're touring together this summer, and between the Old 97's' poppy, rollicking country rock and the Truckers' literary Southern rock, this ought to be a winner for anybody who likes songs that kick up a little dust. With John Henry and the Engine.
Saturday, May 25, at Crossroads KC at Grinders (417 East 18th Street, 785-749-3434)
El Ten Eleven
Los Angeles' El Ten Eleven crafts an artful, instrumental mix of looped electronic music and post-rock ideas. It's not sweeping and huge in the vein of Explosions in the Sky or Godspeed You Black Emperor — the driving rhythms, melody and borderline-cheery quality of the songs are closer to a band like Six Parts Seven. Opener Nude Pop is on the roster of El Ten Eleven's new label, Fake Record Label; the group traffics in the dreamy indie rock common to its native Pacific Northwest.
Saturday, May 25, at RecordBar (1020 Westport Road, 816-753-5207)
It's good to be Dawes these days. The Southern California group toured with wildly successful band Mumford & Sons last year and spent this past spring opening for Bob Dylan. Dawes is a natural fit for both bills: The band channels the easy-listening vibe of '70s Laurel Canyon artists like Jackson Browne, but presents it with the big-tent accessibility of such contemporary acts as the Avett Brothers. (There's a little Warren Zevon and Paul Simon in there, too.) The sound is still a little too derivative and watered-down for my tastes, but they seem like curious musicians underneath it, so I'm holding out hope that they'll come around. In the meantime, I'll take them over any of their folky contemporaries. With Star & Micey.
Tuesday, May 28, at Crossroads KC at Grinders (417 East 18th Street, 785-749-3434)