Critics' Picks: Yellow Swans and more

THURSDAY 6.05

Awesome Snakes

Minnesota Museum of American Art

With summer upon us, seasonal events like the Minnesota Museum of American Art's weekly Patio Nights kick off the season of warm nights spent outside listening to your favorite live music and throwing back a couple of thirst-quenching adult beverages. And I couldn't think of a better kickoff than a rooftop show by the awesomely bratty and sonically charged snaky sounds of the Awesome Snakes. Joining in the party is the lo-fi noise-pop high jinks of the Vignettes and the thrashy post-punk of the Talkers. Not for the faint of heart or anyone looking for a relaxing night, unless getting your face rocked off is your way of chilling out. A note of warning: It will be loud, it will be chaotic, but most of all it will be exactly what you need to push you into a summer filled with nonstop rock action. Luckily the MMAA's patio is safely encased in wrought iron so you can't rock so hard that you'll fall off. Although stranger things have been known to happen. All Ages. $7. 7 p.m. 50 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.266.1030. Jen Paulson

FRIDAY 6.06

HowWasTheShow.com 6th Anniversary

Cyndi Lauper is throwing a pride party and everyone's invited
Cyndi Lauper is throwing a pride party and everyone's invited

Turf Club

I have a pretty clear bias as far as HowWasTheShow.com is concerned—I spent two years feverishly penning live reviews for the site and worked as editor there before launching my own online music mag and eventually assuming my current position at City Pages. My time with HowWasTheShow.com was spent trying to go to more local shows than site founder David de Young (a harrowing task, to be sure) and honing my writing skills amidst the ever-fluctuating world of online publishing. Which is the beauty of sites like HWTS; writing for free gives contributors the ability to write freely, fueled solely by their passion for seeking out live music. And in an era of online music criticism soiled by snark, the unabashed enthusiasm found within the site's pages is refreshing, even in its most unrefined moments. This year's anniversary celebration features a good lot of hard-hitting rock, with performances by the Haves Have It, the 757s, the Evening Rig, Dallas Orbiter, and the Wars of 1812. 21+. $6. 9 p.m. 1601 University Ave., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. Andrea Myers

Yellow Swans

Triple Rock Social Club

Portland, Oregon, noise duo Yellow Swans—Pete Swanson and Gabriel Mindel Saloman—drew from a many-splendored sound palette. Radioactive, lopsided electronic loops? Check. Full-bore, concussive eruptions? Yep. Aurora Borealis-esque synth draping? Sure. Elegiac, fiery interwoven drones? They went that route, too, on dozens of multi-format releases issued since their formation in 2000. (Which doesn't even take into account their collaborations with countless equally obscure peers, like Mouthus, Skaters, and Birchville Cat Motel.) Our use of the past tense isn't accidental; the Yellow Swans announced their impending breakup earlier this spring. A handful of live dates remain, a string of releases are planned into 2009, and Saloman and Swanson will surface as members of other projects they're already involved in (Badgerlore, Mudsuckers, etc.); but for all intents and purposes, this band is effectively kaput. If you've always wanted to catch 'em in the flesh, now's certainly the time. The last time. With Sicbay, STNNNG, FT (The Shadow Government), and Church of Gravitron. 18+. $8/$10 at the door. 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S, Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. Ray Cummings

SATURDAY 6.07

City on the Make

400 Bar

Ever wonder what a really good blues record would sound like if it were assaulted with a tire iron and had acid splashed in its eyes? Right, not many people ever think about things like that, but City on the Make seemed to be thinking about that question constantly on last year's debut, In the Name of Progress. Their songs are all blues songs at their core, but they take weird, feedback-infused detours, and though sometimes lead singer Mike Massey's baby leaves him, it's for a robot not a new place to dwell. Massey's dark, descriptive lyrics are full of this kind of off-kilter self-loathing, but the heartbreak is tempered by revenge or exacerbated by self-destruction; he's not one to suffer betrayal with quiet grace. He speeds aimlessly down I-94 both in search of and trying to escape what is essentially nothing; he plays a two-bit hood named Angelo and sometimes suffers from lycanthropy. City on the Make are celebrating the release of their new EP, $1,000,000, which is full of the same kind of twisted, gritty, inside-out blues riffs and richly detailed stories about fringe dwellers at the edge of their sanity, like a Raymond Chandler novel come to life. With Dragons Power Up and the Tender Sweaters. 18+. $7. 8 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. Pat O'Brien

Mercurial Rage

Fine Line Music Cafe

Depeche Mode's Music for the Masses is old enough to be legally served a drink this year, but as it and many of its counterparts age, they seem to influence more and more bands. DM's title was meant as irony, but it has become more and more apparent that many who listened took that title at face value and decided to carry the torch. Mercurial Rage are near the top of this ever-growing heap, taking careful steps to separate the wheat from the chaff along the way. The bitter, wry wit is still in place as are the pounding synth hooks and sharp, crystalline guitars that saturated the new wave countryside. Gone, however, are the overdone, bleached-out haircuts and the godawful fashion choices so often associated with the original new wave band template. (Why did tapered pants, skinny ties, and too-big, boxy sport coats look good together again?) This, of course, erases any feelings of nostalgia you feel for the good ol' days of British synth-pop. Mercurial Rage aren't British; they were born during the era they are referencing and they give fuckall about the look (or any look really). All of which is to say: They have taken a good thing and made it better. With the Alarmists, White Light Riot, and the Mood Swings. 18+. $8. 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N, Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Pat O'Brien

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