, Joe Budden
With Chiddy Bang, Jon Connor
Details: Saturday 6:30 p.m. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. $15-$20. (727) 565-0551.
Satisfy your inner rap geek (and yes, those words can exist together) with sets from smart, soul-baring MC Joe Budden, Guinness World Records holder (with a nine-hour, 16-minute free-style rap) Chiddy Bang and Flint, Mich., breakout artist Jon Connor. Jersey's Budden, one-quarter of super troupe Slaughterhouse, tops eerie grooves with equal parts wit and pathos. Chiddy Bang reaches outside the genre, sampling artists like Radiohead and MGMT for psychedelia touches. Nas-supported Connor, who managed to stand out in a sea of artists on the streets of SXSW this year with his fatigue-clothed entourage, brings "people's rapper" rhymes. In a nutshell, this show promises hip-hop poetry over luxury-car rapping.
With Poison, Lita Ford
Details: Saturday 7 p.m. Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive, Tampa. $33-$123. (813) 301-2500.
The "Rock of Ages" tour technically refers to the screamy '83 Def Leppard tune. But with the flick of the same name snagging the spotlight recently, it's hard to think about much else. Def Leppard and Poison songs figure prominently in the movie. And count Joe Elliott and Poison's bra-fetching Bret Michaels among those impressed with Tom Cruise's transformation into a rock star. The groups got a special sneak preview of Cruise's shoot in Florida last year. "He was great," Elliott told Rolling Stone. "He got really kind of in deep with the project." On Saturday, come for the Sunset Strip-style excesses portrayed in the movie; stay for the reliably giant hooks and hair.
Details: Saturday 8 p.m. The Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $35 and up. (727) 791-7400.
While you were fumbling over the first four measures of Aqualung, Eric Johnson was mastering the art of six-string slinging in the early '70s. Fresh off his appearance in March's Experience Hendrix Tour at Ruth Eckerd Hall, the top-ranked rock guitarist and Clapton pal returns to Clearwater to throw down Grammy-winning, platinum-selling stuff, including Cliffs of Dover, one of the finest validations that instrumentals can indeed be hits.
m Cobra Starship
With OutaSight, Sammy Adams
Details: Wednesday 1 p.m. Shephard's, 619 S Gulfview Blvd., Clearwater Beach. $5 and up. (727) 441-6875.
Who says Independence Day has to be a bore when it happens midweek? Cobra Starship will do its best to turn the Wednesday holiday from mild to wild with pop-punk-glam goodness. For the band, it's the latest in a series of unconventional gigs. From spinning at the Hard Rock to playing for graduating high schoolers at Busch Gardens, we're starting to wonder if they'll ever play another "normal" concert in Tampa Bay. Yonkers DJ and rapper OutaSight, who had a hit with Tonight Is the Night, opens. Radio station WFLZ-FM 93.3 hosts the event.
Hot Dog Show
With Guiltmaker, Guantanamo Baywatch, Alias Punch, more
Details: Tuesday 8 p.m. Crowbar, 1812 17th St. N, Ybor City. $5. (813) 241-8600.
The annual "Hot Dog Show" brings together the sounds of local bands and the stomachs of their fans. Performing (and potentially frank-feeding) are the cerebral alt-rocking guys of Guiltmaker and the crew from Orlando's Alias Punch, who offer the weird-cool of Talking Heads.
Earth, Wind and Fire
Details: Saturday postgame. Tropicana Field, 1 Tropicana Drive, St. Petersburg. Free with game ticket. Toll-free 1-888-326-7297.
From the cloud-clearing optimism of September to the "Yes I can!" assurance of Shining Star, Earth, Wind and Fire has enough upbeat funk-disco-soul to lead a parade — or to perk up a dinged-up Rays roster. Rolling Stone credits the Chicago group with "changing the sound of black pop" via a dynamic style of play. But it's those enormously encouraging anthems that helped them become one of the bestselling groups of all time. Longtime member Philip Bailey (the ballad man with the famous falsetto) has lead EWF since founder Maurice White's Parkinson's disease forced him to stop touring. The Rays will be wearing throwback uniforms. Your '70s duds are encouraged, too.
With Variance, Not Tonight Josephine
Details: Sunday 6 p.m. Jannus Live, 16 Second St. N, St. Petersburg. (727) 565-0551. Free with ticket. Visit 97xonline.com for ticket locations.
It's a family affair when brothers Pete Loeffler and Sam Loeffler plus brother-in-law Dean Bernardini perform together as Chevelle: a raw, hard-rocking, and often tense, affair. Culling inspiration from life's darker side, Chevelle songs like Vitamin R combine the moodiness of Tool with the guitar crunch of the Deftones. The tracks make for adequate ring-entrance music, too. "Local Motion" regulars Variance and Not Tonight Josephine open the show.
With Delano, Baker, Jaybee, more
Details: Wednesday 9 p.m. Czar, 1420 E Seventh Ave., Ybor City. $10. (813) 247-2664.
Before dubstep was dubstep, drum and bass (or jungle) was the go-to for deafening electronic rhythm sections. When a smiling, nodding Bukem gets behind the decks, it's 180 BPM all the way. Not recommended for those with heart irregularities.