Last year, the Black Dog sponsored a massive local music showcase as a much-needed effort to inject a bit more activity into St. Paul's downtown-bordering Lowertown neighborhood. One year later, though, the purpose has changed, what with more than enough activity going down in the immediate area thanks to an influx of Republicans, protestors, and a ton of other folks in the process of bum-rushing a neighborhood they've probably never spent much time in. So this year's Black Dog Block Party is decidedly political, and with the national attention comes a national act: Oakland's guerilla funk favorites the Coup, whose 2006 Pick a Bigger Weapon might just be the best political hip-hop record of the decade. Hell, take the "political" qualifier out, and it still qualifies for top 10; Boots Riley isn't just a powerful firebrand, he's one of the West Coast's nimblest lyricists. Some of the Twin Cities' sharpest hip-hop artists follow suit—M.anifest, Los Nativos, and Big Quarters among them—along with an eclectic mix of other local luminaries ranging from the haunting Morricone-folk of Spaghetti Western String Company to the Brass Messengers' wall-of-horns Gypsy/klezmer music. The city might be putting barricades all over downtown, but there aren't any on this bill. Aviette, Big Quarters, Anthony Cox, Spaghetti Western String Company, the Brass Messengers and more perform Sunday; the Coup, M.anifest, Ill Chemistry, Dean Magraw & Friends, Kill the Vultures, Los Nativos, and more perform Tuesday.
Sun., Aug. 31, 2-10 p.m.; Tue., Sept. 2, 3-10 p.m., 2008