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Top Shows: Ben Folds Five, Eric Church, The Hood Internet

Ben Folds with Ben Folds Five

Guided by Voices

Japanese art-rock band Mono performs at the Riot Room on Sepember 26.

Nellie McKay

Nick Lowe will come to Knuckleheads on September 27.

Chicago duo the Hood Internet are accomplished DJs that create mashups.

Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard of "Once" fame.

Eric Church

American musician R. Stevie Moore


Glen Hansard

Wednesday Liberty Hall

Glen Hansard’s proverbial 15 minutes of fame came in the form of a starring role in the 2006 Academy Award-winning romantic film “Once.” He has since resumed his less glamorous life as an acclaimed Irish singer/songwriter. He may not provide much in the way of tabloid fodder, but Hansard’s winsome folk music and charismatic stage presence have earned him a devoted base of fans who are certain to savor every moment of Wednesday’s concert. Opening the show is the Lost Brothers, a London-based duo of Irishmen who sound uncannily like the Everly Brothers.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $24 and $29 in advance.

Mono with Chris Brokaw and Gemini Revolution

Wednesday Riot Room

Securing a complete view of the low-slung stage at the Riot Room can be a troublesome task during crowded shows at the Westport venue. Good vantage points won’t matter quite as much during Mono’s performance Wednesday night. The dreamlike visions kindled by the music of the instrumental Japanese art-rock band are sure to be more compelling than the band’s onstage activities. Since Mono’s formation in 1999, its epic sound has inspired the imaginations of listeners across the globe. Two strong opening acts round out the bill. Chris Brokaw is the Zelig of indie rock. The Seattle-based musician has collaborated with the likes of Liz Phair, G.G. Allin, Thurston Moore and Evan Dando. Gemini Revolution is a Kansas City-based psychedelic band.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. show are $10 in advance.

Nick Lowe with Eleni Mandell

Thursday (early show) Knuckleheads

Nick Lowe no longer refers to himself as the Jesus of Cool. The provocative moniker served as the title of the British version of Lowe’s bracing 1978 debut album. More than three decades later, Lowe has lost little of his trendsetting luster. He’s certain to reprise many of his beloved songs at an early show Thursday at Knuckleheads. The rocker’s best-known material includes “(What’s So Funny ’Bout) Peace, Love and Understanding,” “Cruel to Be Kind” and “The Beast in Me.” Opening act Eleni Mandell enjoys a loyal following in Kansas City. The Californian’s refined songwriting will complement Lowe’s revered material.

Tickets to the 7 p.m. show are $29 in advance.

Guided By Voices with Detective

Friday Granada

Most rock bands that have managed to stick together for more than 25 years are motivated by a combination of desperation and denial. Not Guided By Voices. The lovable indie-rock band is no less inspired than it was at its formation in Ohio in 1983. The scruffy act has already issued two exceptional new albums in 2012. A third is scheduled for release in November. Led by Robert Pollard — a character who combines the eccentric qualities of Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and the Rolling Stones’ Keith Richards — the band’s guitar-based rock is remarkably durable. Opening act Détective is a Los Angeles-based trio featuring a former member of Guided By Voices.

Tickets to the 9 p.m. concert are $25 in advance and $30 on the day of the show.

Ben Folds Five

Friday Starlight Theatre

The misleadingly named trio shook up the ’90s with hits including “Brick,” “Battle of Who Could Care Less” and “Underground.” While Ben Folds has thrived since he disbanded Ben Folds Five in 2000, an intangible ingredient of his old sound has been missing in his recent output. The announcement that the band would reunite for a tour and album has given fans of literate power pop cause for celebration. “Sarah,” a song about a sobering incident after a Ben Folds Five concert in Australia, is a highlight of the new album by the classically trained opening act Kate Miller-Heidke.

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. concert range from $25 to $75.

Nellie McKay

Friday Polsky Theater at Johnson County Community College

Don’t let Nellie McKay’s publicity photo fool you. Her beaming smile belies a peevish world view. Sunny yet cynical, McKay is like the lovechild of Doris Day and Lou Reed. Since her amusingly titled debut album, “Get Away From Me,” was released in 2004, the New Yorker’s sophisticated sensibility has garnered comparisons to legendary Broadway tunesmiths including Irving Berlin. People who appreciate Regina Spektor and Billie Holiday are encouraged to make a beeline Friday for Johnson County Community College.

Tickets to the 8 p.m. concert are $32.

Eric Church

Saturday Sprint Center

Sometimes being ornery pays off. The strength of rowdy material like “Smoke a Little Smoke,” “Drink in My Hand” and “How ’Bout You” has made the obstreperous Eric Church one of contemporary country’s biggest stars. He recently led all acts with five nominations in the forthcoming Country Music Association Awards. A dynamic performer, Church is worthy of every bit of the reflected glory cast by his chart-topping 2012 hit “Springsteen.” Currently on his first headlining tour of arenas, Church will be abetted by up-and-coming acts Kip Moore (“Something ’Bout a Truck”) and Justin Moore (“Bait a Hook”).

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. concert range from $37.50 to $47.50.

The Hood Internet

Saturday Firefly Lounge

While countless DJs create mashups, few are as accomplished as the Hood Internet. The Chicago duo’s popular series of mixtapes contain unlikely combinations of inspired pairings that are both hilarious and danceable. Dizzee Rascal collides with Cyndi Lauper one minute and DMX and the XX are combined the next. Three promising acts are touring with the Hood Internet. Body Language is a harmonious electro-pop group based in Brooklyn. Two Chicago acts — the clever rapper Kid Static and the frenetic electronic pop act Oscillator Bug — will keep patrons at the Firefly Lounge moving on Saturday.

Tickets to the show are $8 in advance and $10 on the day of the event. Doors open at 8 p.m.

Florence + the Machine with the Maccabees

Monday Starlight Theatre

Call it opera house soul. Florence + the Machine’s ornate and majestic brand of pop is an artful combination of rock and R&B. Although the approach is decidedly European, it obviously resonates with American audiences. Breakthrough hits like “Shake It Out” and “Dog Days Are Over” combine an icy version of soul with front person Florence Welch’s heated declarations concerning affairs of the heart. Welch’s notably theatrical stage presence has accelerated the British band’s meteoric ascent. The Maccabees, a British rock band enjoying a similar measure of positive momentum, opens the show.

Tickets to the 7:30 p.m. concert range from $25 to $75.

R. Stevie Moore

Monday RecordBar

The quintessential rock ’n’ roll oddball, R. Stevie Moore has been issuing homemade recordings for almost 40 years. The times may be catching up to Moore’s amateurish but inspired aesthetic. Indie-rock darling Ariel Pink recently collaborated with Moore on the predictably inscrutable album “Ku Klux Glam.” While advance assurances can’t be made about the quality of Monday’s show, Moore’s performance will almost certainly be memorably bizarre. Longtime fans may be tempted to request “Why Can’t I Write a Hit?” The answer is embedded in the song’s lyrics — “the sounds are too weird.”

Tickets to the 10 p.m. show are $10 in advance.

Bill Brownlee, Special to Ink


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