She & Him and more

 

WEDNESDAY 8.06

El Vez

First Avenue

While visiting Graceland a while back and perusing bottles of Elvis "sweat" and velour playing cards and whatnot in the gift shop, I heard one woman say to another, "Everyone has a little bit of Elvis in them, don't you think?" Well? Some more than others, I guess. Enter El Vez, the self-proclaimed "Mexican Elvis." Not to be confused with Tortelvis, the Elvis impersonator and lead singer of the reggae cover band Dread Zeppelin. Or the impersonator who used to live behind my parents, mowed his lawn fully coiffed, and was married to a woman who looked just like Elvira. More than just a spectacle—though spectacle he is—El Vez uses his Elvis powers for good. It's not just empty impersonation. Dude's got a message. Just make sure you're in the right mood—like, no first dates. Also, El Vez is running for president. El Vez for Prez! With Lysa Flores. 18+. $12/$14 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Jessica Chapman

Twin Cities Pan African Festival

Cedar Cultural Center

A six-day celebration of African arts that features artists from the continent as well as its diaspora, both global and local, this is less a festival than a cultural and sensory explosion. Minnesota's own substantial population of Africans ensures that many favorites from damn near every place and medium are featured: the infectious Habib Koité and his band from Mali on Wednesday, an outdoor showcase featuring local golden boy M.anifest on Saturday, and Monday's closer K'Naan, the "Dusty Foot Philosopher" from Toronto by way of Somalia, a true child of the hip-hop generation with talent that elicits must-see status. Plus there's plenty of other visual and culinary treats throughout that are just as savory, such as the films Hip-Hop Colony and Music Is the Weapon. The music will sizzle and the images will sweat, and the gathering of young and old, here and there, all under the long reach of African expression by way of the Americas and back again—that's a funky thing. Through August 11. All ages. $20/$25 at the door. 7:30 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Jordan Selbo

 

THURSDAY 8.07

She & Him

First Avenue

Zooey Deschanel is just so precious. Listening to her is sorta like the audio equivalent of watching the movie Amélie. Pair her up with the quirky and almost equally twee M.Ward, and the sum is sickly-sweet irresistible. Remember Deschanel as the adorable, slightly snarky Jovi singing "Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town" and "Baby It's Cold Outside" in the movie Elf? That was really her. If you liked what you heard then, you will dig She & Him. That's almost spot-on what they sound like. Deschanel's actress-to-singer/songwriter crossover bid is boosted by the involvement of Ward, who has collaborated with the likes of Bright Eyes, Cat Power, and My Morning Jacket, but the little lady can most definitely hold her own. On the duo's recently released debut, Volume 1, the talented Ward takes a back seat, showcasing Deschanel's vaguely old-timey, lilting vocals. With Becky Stark. 18+. $16/$18 at the door. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jessica Chapman

 

FRIDAY 8.08

The 888 Fest

Hexagon Bar

In Chinese culture there is a mystical quality associated with the number eight and it is considered extremely lucky—which explains why the Olympics are opening today in Beijing. Speaking of the Olympics, doesn't it seem strange how overly dramatic and really, mostly just boring they are? The 888 Fest at the Hexagon promises to be no such thing. Eight bands on one bill for free: could be the best show (it will certainly be the luckiest) in town Friday what with the Plastic Chord's Beirut-ish cacophony of noise and prog-like arrangements, Economy Team's driving grind, and six other bands to choose from as your new possible favorite or at least "by far the best band here," one of which—Old James—will be playing their last show. Already sounds a lot more exciting and dramatic than the Olympics, doesn't it? It's funny how when you expect something you are let down, and when you expect nothing you are sometimes pleasantly surprised. It's up to you to decide how to entertain yourself, but consider this: Maybe you don't know some of these bands, but who do you know on the U.S. Olympic squad besides Michael Phelps? 'Nuff said. With the Guystorm, Young Brides, Power of Two, more. 21+. Free. 9 p.m. 2600 27th Ave. S, Minneapolis, 612.722.3454. Pat O'Brien

 

SATURDAY 8.09

James Blunt

Northrop Auditorium

Hate to get all Ocean's Eleven here, but indulge me as I paraphrase: "You can't lose focus in this pop game for a second." Because, see, the general public's already lost sight of James Blunt; there are, as ever, new, improved distractions. "You're Beautiful"—the hit that launched millions of copies of Back to Bedlam from store shelves waaaay back in 2004—remains a showy bit of fake Rod Stewart, an admittedly athletic wooing device for hapless suitors worldwide. (Second single "Goodbye My Lover"? Not so much.) Homely, deeply-creased mug notwithstanding, Blunt's considerable vocal gifts should've been enough to keep him at the forefront of public consciousness for at least a couple of years. But unless you've been keeping up with the guy, he may as well be missing in action: Last year's All the Lost Souls didn't reach the same sales heights—perhaps due to the then-sales war between 50 Cent and Kanye West—or spawn any inescapable monster singles. Doesn't fan loyalty count for anything in 2008? That's a question we can answer once the tour receipts have been counted. Opening for Sheryl Crow. $46-$136. 8 p.m. 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.624.2345. Ray Cummings

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