Wilco, 311, Alexz Johnson and Brian Wheat highlight this week's Fab Five.
1) Wilco is cool enough to have been and still be different things to different people -- alt-rock, nu-country, jangle-pop. It's all good.
No, seriously. In Wilco's case, it was and is. All good.
Witness The Whole Love, the latest effort (effortless?) from Jeff Tweedy and company, the band's 10th overall and third featuring its current lineup.
Wilco plays the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion Saturday, Aug. 4. Tickets are $45. Visit promowestlive.com.
2) Alexz Johnson may have gotten her professional start on a Disney Channel TV series, but don't confuse her with another Selena or Demi.
Oddly enough, from her role as a teen pop-rocker in the short-lived So Weird to a leading part in Canadian TV's Instant Star, in which Johnson played the winner of a televised teen talent competition, the would-be singer-songwriter has gotten more traction playing characters that are where she'd like her actual career to be.
But, as often happens, the notoriety of being on TV (she also starred in the Lifetime original movie Stranger With My Face and as Saturn Girl on Smallville) has advantages in other areas, and she has been able to stick out times when her music career has been sidetracked.
Which is a win for fans of smart, melodic and earnest pop-rock, as those are her hallmarks as a writer and performer. Check out her EP Skipping Stones.
Alexz Johnson plays the Basement Sunday, Aug. 5. Tickets are $12/$14. Visit promowestlive.com.
BONUS: Another act that got its start on Disney TV is pop-rock outfit Allstar Weekend, which plays the A&R Bar with openers Honor Society, also Aug. 5. Tickets are $17.
3) Buffalo, N.Y.-bred and Minneapolis, Minn.-based singer-songwriter Brian Wheat expresses a warm, comfortable vibe while delivering literate and thoughtful examinations of relationships and tradition.
His story-songs aren't quite the straightforward stuff of troubadours of the past, but Wheat's facility with a narrative is evident throughout his most recent release, Looking Alive, Wheat's sophomore recorded effort.
A subsequent tour brings Wheat to Kafe Kerouac Monday, Aug. 6. Visit kafekerouac.com.
4) Groundbreaking rock act 311 may be chronologically remov-ed from the buzz it created more than 15 years ago when it hit the rock scene, but the quintet's place in rock history is secure.
Additionally, the group helped inspire a new generation of SoCal reggae-soul-funk-rock bands, including Slightly Stoopid. Look up "late-summer chillin' " in the dictionary (yes, we know it's probably not actually in a dictionary) and you just might find Slightly Stoopid in the definition.
Both remain terrific live bands, and they will share the Lifestyle Communities Pavilion stage Wednesday, Aug. 8. Tickets are $43. Visit promowestlive.com.
5) Funky grooves that are easy to dance to, singable melodies, and lyrics sufficiently goofy that you might miss something if you assume goofy is all they are. That's about as close to clarity as The Beat can get in describing Oakland, Calif., quintet Antiquoia.
The outfit knows about having a good time, continually engaging the audience in a live setting, but at the same time realizing that a party doesn't necessarily preclude a probative examination of the current state of affairs. We're pretty sure Man Jumpin' Off the World has multiple layers of meaning.
Touring in support of its third album, Viajero, Antiquoia hits central Ohio for a Thursday, Aug. 9, show at Kobo. Tickets are $5. Visit kobolive.com.