331 Club

We know that idle hands are the devil's playthings, but since when did being Satan's toy involve making wry, catchy pop music? (The devil works in mysterious ways.) Regardless, the Minneapolis band the Idle Hands channel their muse by splicing angular new wave and jangly Britpop, twisting in bits of Wire and Bowie for a sound that's both immediate and timeless. Having kicked around the Cities for 10-plus years in previous bands and iterations of the Idle Hands, head Hand Ciaran Daly wins with the current boy/girl/boy/girl/boy lineup—the writing is smart, the production is flawless, and the song "Loaded" is all over the Current. Whether complaining about being sick of it all or quipping, "I stopped keeping track of my lost passion...back when I still cared," ennui has seldom sounded so sweet. With Communist Daughter and the Nightinghales. 21+. Free. 9:30 p.m. 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.331.1746. —Catherine Clements

Medeski, Martin & Wood


The Idle Hands, featuring Ciaran Daly's right shoe
The Idle Hands, featuring Ciaran Daly's right shoe

For nearly two decades, the restless, iconoclastic trio of keyboardist John Medeski, drummer Billy Martin (not the late Yankees manager), and bassist Chris Wood (not the late Traffic saxophonist) has experimented out on the wind-whipped precipice where jazz, rock, funk, and other stray genres of scintillating musical imagination crash, clash, and slash at one another with artistic abandon. Skilled musicians and fearless improvisers, MMW have created music with cunning melodic hooks, ferocious grooves, and sufficient waves of original ideas to capture the imaginations of rockers, avant-gardists, and jazz aficionados with equal fervor. They've also become regulars on the jam-band circuit. Lately, MMW has been onto something new even for them: The Radiolarian Series, whose second incarnation was released this week on MMW's own Indirecto label. Taking its name from marine protozoa noted for their intricate exoskeletons (made famous by German biologist Eric Haeckel's elaborate 19th-century illustrations, which grace the CD cover), MMW's aim is to turn standard music-biz operations on their head: performing all new material onstage in preparation for recording, rather than vice versa. So the charms of the newly issued Radiolarians II—from the industrial-rock crunch that yields to angular jazz maneuvering on "Flat Tires" to the lyrical, blues-soaked cover of the Rev. Gary Davis's "Baby Let Me Follow You Down," with plenty of detours into spacey sampling, samba, bop, noise, and even a flurry of avant-stride piano—likely won't be presented here, although what MMW do play with their inimitable touch should be plenty fascinating. With Up Bustle & Out. 18+. $25/$27 at the door. 8 p.m. 107 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.465.0440. —Rick Mason


Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3

Varsity Theater

"In a way, pop music is very much a part of its time," says Robyn Hitchcock, "and in that respect I've never really produced pop music. Having said that, there was a time when we were on the radio a lot in the '80s." Indeed, Hitchcock has always managed to package his quirky and sometimes surreal outlook in some very catchy tunes. He split from his first group, the Soft Boys, in the late '70s, and then oscillated between solo work and group efforts with his band the Egyptians. Lately, he's been working with his newest group, the Venus 3, whose members have known each other for ages. Featuring Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Scott McCaughey (Young Fresh Fellows), and Bill Rieflin (Ministry), the group has recorded three albums but released only two. The second was featured in last year's Robyn Hitchcock: Sex, Food, Death...and Insects documentary, but released only as a live EP. "The one in the film is the second one," he explains. "We released the third one (Goodnight Oslo) first because...it had a bit more of a rock sound, more upbeat." The studio version of the second album will be released at some point, he assures. The group ends its current tour in the Twin Cities. "We're very much looking forward to it," he adds. "It's a venue we haven't played before." 18+. $20. 7 p.m. 1308 Fourth St., Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —P.F. Wilson


Peter Bjorn and John/Chairlift

Fine Line Music Cafe

Your first listening session with Does You Inspire You, the debut from Chairlift, may leave you wondering whether the trio recorded in a smoke-machine-equipped studio. Your second bout with the album will probably convince you that their record collections contain a fairly high '80s British gloom-pop quotient. "Bruises," which you may recognize from one iPod Nano commercial or another (are those the new mp3 blogs or something?), is certainly bouncier and shinier than anything else Chairlift has done, but the rest of Inspire feels vintage, musty, clad in Flashdance legwarmers. Which pretty much makes Chairlift either a cautionary tale or the logical endpoint of the wave of Brooklyn-centralized acts—Telepathe, please pick up the red phone—who've decided that tribalist-Gypsy rock makes less sense than overvarnished stabs at Reagan-era FM pop one-hit wonders. We're far more excited about the return of Swede genre-hybriders Peter Bjorn and John, who're treading a decidedly more attractive path. 18+. $17/$18 at the door. 7:30 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Ray Cummings

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