Ready, steady, go

Plus MC Lady Sovereign and 97X's annual Next Big Thing

Liquor-laced literacy is usually not what you expect to hear from a band that, at first listen, could be confused with Bruce Springsteen. But somehow, The Hold Steady pull it off and manage to sound like fun bar rock that won't rot your brain. Brooklyn-based experimental indie outfit The Big Sleep go light on the lyrics and keep their sprawling post-rock sound upbeat and complex enough to energize rather than hypnotize. St. Pete rockers Nessie bring their experiences with love and, well, lots of booze and late nights to the stage in fun power-pop style.

The Hold Steady w/The Big Sleep/Nessie, 9 p.m. Thurs., Nov. 30 @ Orpheum, Ybor City; $10 (21 & up), $12 under 21. —Tristan Wheelock

Young, notoriously short (she's referred to herself as "the biggest midget in the game") MC Lady Sovereign started writing her own rhymes at the tender age of 14; it was the now-legendary '05 UK hip-hop compilation Run The Road — which also featured The Streets — that got American industry reps seriously talking about making her a worldwide sensation. Lady Sovereign's style adds a slightly more accessible pop element to the primal, gritty, bass-heavy Brit electro style known as grime, but she's got the quick, syncopated double-talk and wit associated with the genre down pat. Along for the ride on this, her most comprehensive U.S. tour to date (promoting this year's American debut full-length Public Warning) is NYC-by-way-of-Austin retro-dance-pop outfit Young Love, whose Dan Keyes formerly fronted woefully underappreciated posthardcore unit Recover.

Lady Sovereign w/Young Love, 7 p.m. Thurs., Nov. 30 @ State Theatre, St. Petersburg; $13 adv., $15 d.o.s. —Scott Harrell

If you dig modern rock's current mascaraed and overwhelmingly youth-oriented incarnation, then the sixth installment of local FM station 97X's annual Next Big Thing festival is so up your alley that it's almost right there in your little-girl pants with you. In addition to headliners My Chemical Romance (whose new album The Black Parade almost excuses everything they did before it), big-time emo stalwarts Taking Back Sunday and aggressively mediocre Jared Leto musical vehicle 30 Seconds to Mars, you also get performances from Angels & Airwaves (not as good as Tom DeLonge thinks!), Three Days Grace, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus (ugh!), Kill Hannah and Say Anything (it was a movie, remember?) on the main stage. Side stage treats include OK Go (best video EVER!), Plain White T's, Shiny Toy Guns, Luna Halo and local act Trace of Day. The pit area is already sold out, but you can still get tickets to the various seating levels and the lawn.

97X Presents The Next Big Thing 6, 10 a.m. Sun., Dec. 3 @ Ford Amphitheatre, Tampa; $30-60. —SH