Music A-List

WEDNESDAY 11.07

Battles
Fine Line Music Café

No calendar year is complete without at least a handful of insurgent, crit-consensus staples that can't quite win over the populace. M.I.A, Strokes, Liz Phair—we're waving sadly back at you from a future where even Maroon 5's label status is uncertain. Among 2007's more deserving memes is Battles, the zany, four-headed demon spawn of former Lynx, Don Caballero, and Helmet members. Mirrored, the band's debut full-length, suggests what Tortoise might produce were that group locked in a dungeon and forced to power through eight-bit Mega Man marathons while subsisting solely on a diet of Jolt and 'shrooms. On Oompa-Loompa math-stomper "Atlas," a melody-bearing Lilliputian mob—actually the voice of singer/guitarist Tyondai Braxton, neutered and splintered—chants incomprehensibly along with some unholy percussive union of a beatboxed grunt, John Stanier's pounding drums, and the slap-crack of handclaps. "Bad Trails" marries post rock's matte-black surfaces to Animal Collective's tribalist cheer, while "TIJ" seamlessly shifts from hyperventilating whumps to cartoon car-chase soundtrack. Battles' breathlessly whirlybird churn can momentarily turn anyone within range into a living, bug-eyed bobblehead, which explains (and reinforces) all the hype they're attracting. 18+. $14/$16 at the door. 7:00 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Ray Cummings

FRIDAY 11.09

Clapperclaw Music and Art Festival
Sound Gallery and Bedlam Theatre

The inaugural lineup for the Clapperclaw Festival has set the bar decidedly high for the years to come. Touted as an eclectic mix of local and emerging national bands, artists, and theatrical performance, with a bit of fashion tossed in to round things out, this two-day festival (Friday evening and all day Saturday) promises to be, at the least, one of the most interesting events of the year. Highlights include Fort Wilson Riot, fresh off of the enormous success of their album/theater hybrid project Idigaragua, the punk/thrash/psych ward escapee audio/visual assault of Madison's Screamin' Cyn Cyn and the Pons, local Moon Safari-era Air-heads Estate, the haunting, Morricone-influenced Spaghetti Western String Company, and Minneapolis DJ-of-the-moment Soviet Panda. In between musical sets on Saturday, attendees will be treated to episodic theater about the "Ongoing saga of Clapperclaw" that will experiment with the art of the graphic novel and old-time radio. It promises to be a spectacle. $12 per day or $20 for two day pass. Sound Gallery, 414 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.455.2397. Bedlam Theatre, 1501 S. Sixth St., Minneapolis; 612.341.1038. Also Saturday —Pat O'Brien

Everybody Loves a Clown Tour with Atmosphere, Grayskul, and Mac Lethal
First Avenue
Ghostface Killah, in a tableau referencing either the Gospel of John or the narcotics biz
Courtesy of Def Jam
Ghostface Killah, in a tableau referencing either the Gospel of John or the narcotics biz

It's that time of year again, when the leaves change colors, the wind gets a bite, and Atmosphere take a break from their global grind for some hometown TLC. I'll spare you the plea to see Minnesota's seminal hip-hop institution (if it hasn't happened already, well...), but the two acts opening for that swaggering behemoth are definitely worth seeing live, whether you like Slug's histrionics or not. (It's okay, I myself prefer Ant over Slug every time.) Grayskul recently dropped one of 2007's freshest LPs with Bloody Radio, a concept album that flips the script on the various rap sub-genres currently clogging the airwaves. They're hungry and angry and creative as hell—a bad combination. Mac Lethal has also just released his long-awaited debut on Rhymesayers, and is also virtually undiscovered by people who don't attend Scribble Jam. Besides being arguably the best freestyler around, Mac is sure to take a cue from headliner Slug and bare his heart at least a few times, too. Laugh, cry, pump your fist. $16. 18+. at 8:00 p.m. Friday. All ages at 5:00 p.m. Saturday. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Also Saturday —Jordan Selbo

SATURDAY 11.10

Lucero
Fine Line Music Cafe

One of the most invigorating live bands around (when they're sober enough to stand), this foursome from Memphis continue to nudge their raw, Southern-tinged rock in new directions. Their 2006 album, Rebels, Rogues, and Sworn Brothers, saw them channeling the Boss—adding layers of bombastic piano to guitarist Brian Venable's angular, melodic guitar lines; drummer Roy Barry's wily beats; and Nichols's love-it-or-leave-it sandpaper growl. The frontman's heartache and earnestness remain as palpable as ever—he closed out their set at the recent Mucklewain Festival with only part-time pianist Rick Steff at his side. Launching into "Fistful of Tears," he served a reminder that beauty can sometimes be difficult to qualify—his rough-hewn voice and the spare piano filled up the whole darn world. With Bobby Bare Jr. $12/$14 at the door. 8:00 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100.—Lee Stabert

Meat Puppets
Varsity Theater

Just a few years ago, the idea of a Meat Puppets reunion seemed out of the question. Although their legacy held up well, buoyed greatly by a generation of listeners who grew up on Kurt Cobain, the band's founding brothers hadn't played together on record since 1995. Cris Kirkwood was, in fact, serving prison time on felony assault charges stemming from a 2003 altercation in which the bassist was shot in the stomach. But after his 2005 release, Cris was apparently able to stay clean and convince his brother Curt, who had continued making music mostly as a solo performer, to give it another go. Joining up with drummer Ted Marcus, the brothers released Rise to Your Knees last July to generally positive reviews, and have since headed out on the road together for the first time in over a decade. With Ha Ha Tonka. $15. 8:00 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. Christopher Matthew Jensen

SUNDAY 11.11

Hip Hop Live with Ghostface Killah, Rakim, and Brother Ali
First Avenue
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