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Bon Jovi at Verizon Arena 

THURSDAY 10/17

LUKE BRYAN

7:30 p.m. Verizon Arena. $40-$66.

Bona fide country star Luke Bryan is no stranger to these shores, having played in Arkansas a handful of times over the last several years, most recently at the inaugural Thunder on the Mountain country 'n' campin' festival up on Mulberry Mountain. Since getting his start, Bryan's gone from the tradition-grounded (if contemporary-sounding) earnest country of his first album, "I'll Stay Me," into total party mode with his last two long-players, 2011's "Tailgates & Tanlines" and the recent "Crash My Party." And then there was the four-EP run of spring-break-themed releases that started back in '09, collected earlier this year on "Spring Break ... Here to Party." Sample song titles: "If You Ain't Here to Party," "Sorority Girl," "Just a Sip," "Wild Weekend, "Cold Beer Drinker," and the closer, "Take My Drunk Ass Home." It's like, how much more clear could he make it for us? Bryan is here to do one thing and one thing only, y'all: party.

FRIDAY 10/18

BON JOVI

7:30 p.m. Verizon Arena. $34-$160.

There was a funny time back in, oh, let's call it 1984-1987, when bands like Europe and Poison and Warrant and Skid Row and Winger and White Lion and Cinderella and Britny Fox and Trixter and Def Leppard and Ratt and Motley Crue and Guns 'N Roses and the like were widely described as "heavy metal" bands. Of course, they weren't (and were subsequently and unfairly dubbed "hair metal"). They were all basically pop/rock bands that had nicked some guitar licks and maybe some sartorial cues off of the New York Dolls. Out of all of those many big-haired, tight-jeaned rock 'n' rollers, I would not have guessed that Jersey's finest, Bon Jovi, would be the ones to go the long haul, outlasting the trend and still going on arena tours and raking in the big bucks 20-25 years after most of their peers had either succumbed to near cartoonish levels of debauchery (Crue) or simply become relics (most of the rest of them). Going back to listen to some of Bon Jovi's hits, it makes sense to me now. They just wrote better, bigger, catchier, more anthemic and us-against-the-world-ier songs than most of their competition. Seriously, go listen to "Livin' on a Prayer," "You Give Love a Bad Name," "Bad Medicine," "Wanted Dead or Alive," or "Blaze of Glory" (granted, that last one is technically solo-Jovi, but still). That right there is a pretty stout list of ballads and rockers that will surely get the lighters up in the air.

SATURDAY 10/19

RURAL WAR ROOM, DROMEZ

8 p.m. Vino's. $5.

If your music collection includes multiple titles by such depraved noiseniks as Whitehouse, Ruins, Merzbow, Missing Foundation, early Swans or Einstürzende Neubauten and the like, then this is not a show that you should miss, my friend. You're gonna need a pretty hellacious tolerance for extreme eardrum abuse to withstand the punishing electronic sadism of Austin-based Dromez, the nom de rock of Liz Gomez. She's been assaulting audiences since the mid aughts or so with an array of electronically generated squawks, squeals and all-around aural harshness. Of course, you noise weirdoes from here in Arkansas will likely already be familiar with Rural War Room, the free-form audio explorers who operate a record label, radio show and cyberband based in Little Rock, Italy, the Czech Republic and points beyond. In addition to those two experimental outfits, this bill also includes The Crisco Kids, Little Rock's long-running punk-rockabilly deconstructionists featuring the brothers Broadstone, and OG Mudbone, who I don't really know much about on account of, well, don't Google that one because just trust me.

SATURDAY 10/19

BLUE OCTOBER

8:30 p.m. Juanita's. $27 adv., $32 day of.

Fans of Texas alt-rockers Blue October last got a fix back in May, when the band's frontman came through Juanita's for "An Open Book: An Evening with Justin Furstenfeld of Blue October," billed as an intimate affair with a set of acoustic music, a Q&A and readings from his annotated lyrics collection "Crazy Making." He's back now with the rest of the band and a new album to draw from. "Sway" is the group's seventh long-player, and has been described by some critics as a return to form after 2011's synth-heavy break-up album "Any Man America." Critic James Christopher Monger had a few critiques of the record, but noted that "the band doesn't always fall back on bad habits though, as evidenced by cuts like the pleasant, electro-tinged 'Light You Up,' the grungy, propulsive, and genuinely fun 'Hard Candy,' and the elegiac instrumental closer 'To Be,' resulting in what (at this point) represents their most accessible, immediate, and growth-oriented collection of songs to date." Opening the show will be The Unlikely Candidates and Tori Vasquez.

TUESDAY 10/22

THE DIRTY HEADS

8 p.m. Juanita's. $15 adv., $17 day of.

So it's going on 18 years since Sublime disbanded after singer Bradley Nowell OD'd, and in the years following his death, the So-Cal band's ultra-laid-back blend of ska and reggae with hip-hop and punk has proved to have an enduring influence, spawning tribute bands, tribute albums and scads of imitators. But the true heirs to Sublime might just be The Dirty Heads. So-Cal roots? Check. Deep love of reggae? Check. Stoner-friendly good-time jams? All day long. Singer Jared Watson and guitarist Dustin Bushnell were invited over to Daryl Hall's house for a taping of "Live from Daryl's House," where Watson discussed this formative influence. "Sublime was a staple with us because it was the first band that we had listened to that mashed up a lot of different genres of music," he said. "That opened our eyes to not just playing one style of music. You can bring a lot of other stuff in." The hip-hop influence might be a bit more pronounced with The Dirty Heads' music than it was for their forbears. But in every other way, the Heads seem to have everything down cold to carry the ska/punk torch. This is an acoustic show, and the opener is Micah Brown.

WEDNESDAY 10/23

DAWES, JASON ISBELL

9 p.m. Revolution. $14 adv., $16 day of.

Jason Isbell's newest album, "Southeastern," is incredible, there's just no other way I can put it. Opener "Cover Me Up" is the most sweetly, subtly devastating thing I've heard in ages. "Traveling Alone," with its instantly memorable, endearing chorus, is destined to be included on thousands of mixtapes exchanged between sweethearts. The album was completed after Isbell quit drinking and married fiddle player Amanda Shires. The opening lines of the murder ballad "Live Oak," might not specifically refer to his recent sobriety, but they're brilliantly spare and fitting regardless: "There's a man who walks beside me, he is who I used to be/And I wonder if she sees him and confuses him with me." For a more direct examination of his rough 'n' tumble former ways, check out the rollicking "Super 8," with its chorus' refrain, "I don't wanna die in a Super 8 motel / Just because somebody's evening didn't go so well." Great stuff start to finish, and I bet it sounds incredible live. Headlining this show will be California folk-rockers Dawes.

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