With Talk Normal, Thee Liquid Jesus
Details: Monday 9 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 17th St. N, Ybor City. $12-$15. (813) 241-8600.
Nika Danilova, or "Zola Jesus," a bleach blond from rural Wisconsin, makes dark music. How dark? When describing her must-hear, must-see track Vessel (which calls to mind a Nine Inch Nails song of the same name) she says, "I was able to communicate this universe that is my prison." (We mentioned dark, right?) The classically trained singer is best when unleashing icy, avant-garde goth-pop of epic proportions. Lucky for us, that's almost always.
With Michael Jerome, Taras Prodaniuk, Steve Robinson, Ed Woltil
Details: Friday 8 p.m. Tampa Theatre, 711 N Franklin St., Tampa. $26-$46. (813) 274-8981.
Outfitted in trademark beret and eastern European army gear, Richard Thompson often looks more like Che Guevara than a prolific Brit folk rocker who schools in songwriting and sterling guitar playing. A powerhouse of dexterity and dourness, the still-raging 60-something will uncork a searing live set — his guitar tone has been called "as recognizable as Dylan's voice" — with his longtime road band. Other accolades: Thompson was named one of Rolling Stone's Top 20 Guitarists of All Time, and his live tour CD Dream Attic received a 2011 Grammy nod.
They Might Be Giants
With Jonathan Coulton
Details: Tuesday 7 p.m. Ritz Ybor, 1503 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $22-$24. (813) 247-2555.
When it comes to playful, imaginative pop-rock, They Might Be Giants has become the go-to group of the era. The theme-music aficionados ooze with cheesiness and charm, providing the Malcolm in the Middle theme song Boss of Me, as well as sounds of The Daily Show and the Mickey Mouse Club House, to name a few. Celebrating 30 years, the band will have more than a dozen full-length albums to navigate at Tuesday's show. Yale grad and former computer programmer Jonathan Coulton opens with idiosyncratic ditties about the duties of a software code writer, robot overlords and Ikea. And if a banjo version of Baby Got Back is up your alley, don't be late.
With Anders Osborne
Details: Friday 8 p.m. Ruth Eckerd Hall, 1111 McMullen-Booth Road, Clearwater. $35-$45. (727) 791-7400.
Bottleneck blues guitar hero and Grammy winner Keb' Mo' (yes, those apostrophes come with the territory when you're a ferocious picker and one bad Mo') arrives in Clearwater Friday. Mo', whose real name is Kevin Moore, is known for his smoky, unadorned voice and first-rate guitar work. He also bears a striking resemblance (musically and physically) to his idol Robert Johnson. This led to Mo' teaming up with actor Danny Glover for Can't You Hear the Wind Howl? a docu-drama of the mysterious blues singer.
Pelican Pop Fest
Details: Saturday 6 p.m. The Local 662 featuring Al Torchia and the Tattered Saints, the Equines, Sons of Hippies, the Future Now, Signals from Satellites, Dead Sound. Fubar featuring Easybreezy, Friends of Giants, Michael Christmas, Ancient Sun, Fancy Rat. Sake Bomb featuring Mountain Holler, Audrey Sinead, Erin Solari. Daddy Kool featuring Billy Summer, Al Torchia, Erin Solari. Cafe Bohemia featuring Adam Randall, the Happiness Machine, Sheep, Mute Speak. $10 access to all venues.
Last November, Men's Health magazine declared St. Petersburg "America's saddest city." Thanks, bros. Fortunately, the good folks behind the Pelican Pop Fest are flipping the label on its head in their promotions of this multivenue music festival. "It's always sunny in the saddest city," they proclaim. Top local and regional bands acts will rock around St. Pete's 600 block on Saturday during the third installment of this growing festival.
The Carpenters Tribute Show
Details: Saturday 6 p.m. doors, 7:30 p.m. show. The Conmy Center at Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 750 San Salvador Drive, Dunedin. $25. (727) 593-8195.
A Carpenters tribute bash in Dunedin? Don't mind if we do! For teary '70s AM gold, check out bay area residents Pam Zeitler and Thomas Kurt as they uphold the standards of Richard and Karen Carpenter — the wholesome harmonies, the airy melodies, the gorgeous arrangements. Birds may very well appear.
Times correspondent Carole Liparoto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.