Concert Highlights for the Week of Aug. 29 - Sept. 4

WEDNESDAY 8.29

The Detroit Cobras
Triple Rock Social Club

The Detroit Cobras are the world's most original cover band. Instead of playing karaoke standards, the Michigan garage-rockers prefer to tackle obscure Motown tracks and underground R&B cuts. But the band doesn't just play the songs as they were recorded—they add layers of gritty swing and dirty Midwest blues to these chestnuts, which sometimes improves them. Guitarist Mary Ramirez's licks hurt so good, they sting like a fresh spanking, while frontwoman Rachel Nagy has been blessed with the powerful vocals of a modern Patsy Cline. (In fact, she often sounds like the little sister of fellow Motor City enthusiast Patti Smith.) The resulting tunes sound like after-hours at a Phil Spector party, all harmonizing doo-wop girl-group vocals layered with murderous screams. With Dan Sartain and the Willowz. $12/$14 at the door. 9:00 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Jamie Lees

Velvet Revolver
Xcel Energy Center

Yes, all these guys are Major Rock Stars and were in the biggest bands in the world—half a lifetime ago. But rather than pouring a vodka-and-prune juice, judging reality shows, or generally cashing in their credibility like some of their grunge-era cohorts, the Stone Temple Pilots/Guns N' Roses exiles in Velvet Revolver defy the overwhelming expectations of supergroup mediocrity with Libertad, their second album in three years. Singer Scott Weiland is strong and swaggering, the ageless Slash & Co. have a ball, and the album is a cohesive, rollicking, fist-pumping mélange of '70s AOR rock, 1991 ethos, and testosterone. VR headlines the show, but a revamped Alice in Chains threatens to outshine them thanks to afro'ed singer William DuVall, who completely owns the stage. With Kill Hannah. $47. 7:00 p.m. 175 W Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.726.8240. —Catherine Clements

THURSDAY 8.30

B.B. King Blues Festival
Minnesota State Fair Grandstand

For a long time now, B.B. King concerts have been feasts of blues liberally peppered with jokes and storytelling; word is that lately, they've been more like storytelling sessions peppered here and there with blues. Judging from the general behavior of 81-year-old men everywhere, sitting in a chair and telling jokes may be somewhat easier on an old body than roaring impassioned, full-throated complaints about no-good and misbehaving lovers. But the King of the Blues can still roar, and he can still make an audience gasp in unison with one well-struck note on his famed Lucille. The man is quite simply one of the greatest singers and guitar players alive. And some of his jokes are pretty funny, too. Speaking of greatest somethings alive, what soul singer could you dream of putting above Al Green? Don't even bother trying to think about it. The Reverend is an exuberant live performer, and if his behavior can sometimes be a bit erratic, well, so can love and so can happiness. The chance to see these two men on the same bill is an opportunity that should not be passed up. $42. 7:00 p.m. 1265 Snelling Ave. N. Falcon Heights; 651.642.2262. —Kevin Phillips

SATURDAY 9.1

Stereo Total
7th St. Entry

Always more grab-bag than two-headed beast, Stereo Total has consistently drawn from a vast sonic landscape. Though spearheaded by the French/German duo of Francois Cactus and Brezel Göring, past records have included lyrics in English, Italian, Spanish, and Japanese, as well their native tongues. To a similar effect, the group's pop sensibilities reflect a myriad of musical tropes; hooks are found in garage-rock keyboards, disco drums, punk-rock guitar distortion, breathy lounge vocals, and pretty much anywhere else an ambitious sampler might troll for pop-collage gold. While their recent efforts to synthesize these various points of reference have led to a sound akin to a tightly stuffed and cuted-over Frankensteinian hook-monster, the duo's excellent new album, Paris-Berlin, reconciles Parisian decadence with German precision, creating a leaner product—more raw and cool. Logic dictates it should be a bit more realistic to pull off live, too. Kitchen-sink kitsch never sounded so good. With Octopus Project and Solid Gold. $12. 8:00 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Christopher Matthew Jensen

MONDAY 9.3

Chamillionaire
Foundation

If you only know Houston-bred rapper Chamillionaire through last year's mega-hit "Ridin" (a song converted into purportedly the biggest selling ringtone ever), you might think he was just another Southern trend-rider looking to cash in on our fleeting love of syrupy slang and candy paint. Way wrong. Dude's definitely paid his dues, from starting a gospel rap group with Paul Wall back in the day, to putting out a steady stream of (quality) mixtapes for years on his own imprint, to showing love for the vets on his major-label albums (the likely first single off his upcoming Ultimate Victory is "Hip Hop Police," featuring Slick Rick). Unfairly considered the poor man's Lil Wayne, he's currently attempting to squash beefing, and blames Corporate America for inter-rapper conflict (definitely up on that tricknowledgy)—which makes him truly hardcore in my book. Cham's thuggish yet informed output may not be the ideal spawn of PE, but in today's anemic culture, it's welcome nonetheless. $30/$40 at the door. 9:00 p.m.10 S. Fifth St., Minneapolis; 612.332.3931. —Jordan Selbo

Def Leppard with Styx and Foreigner
Minnesota State Fair Grandstand
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