Beyoncé, Old 97's, Sonic Youth, and more

WEDNESDAY 7.15

Gov't Mule

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater

Guitarist and vocalist Warren Haynes is a busy man these days, juggling roles in the Allman Brothers, the Dead, and Gov't Mule, which he leads, having founded it with the late Allmans bassist Allen Woody. Like the other bands Haynes is involved with, Gov't Mule is based on a classic-rock sound: hard, blues-drenched rock with a heavy bottom, epic scope, and blazing guitar work. But it's hardly one-dimensional, incorporating slivers of reggae, jazzy improvisation, and R&B, while Haynes's vocals edge increasingly soulward. Now a quartet including longtime drummer Matt Abts, keyboardist Danny Louis, and new bassist Jorgen Carlsson, Mule arrive at the zoo just before the release of their first studio disc in three years, By a Thread, mostly recorded at Willie Nelson's Pedernales Studio. It kicks off with a scorching guest shot from ZZ Top guitarist Billy Gibbons on "Broke Down on the Brazos." "Frozen Fear" is a hard, reggae-tinged ballad, with a touch of Memphis soul in Haynes's vocals and a hint of Duane Allman in his guitar solo. And the tragic tale "Railroad Boy" is grounded in Delta blues, with a dose of Skynyrd. It's all hard-driving, blues-informed stuff played with sweaty intensity and designed for braying at the moon. $29. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason

THURSDAY 7.16

Beyoncé

Target Center

Having previously sold some 50 million records as a member of Destiny's Child, this past decade has seen Beyoncé Knowles separate herself from the image of a girl-group diva and rise up as a full-blown renaissance woman. Singer, songwriter, actress, fashion designer, model, spokesperson, philanthropist, activist: All these titles address aspects of Beyoncé's multi-faceted persona. But one single word might best define who she is at her core: performer. Her shows are shows, audio/visual eruptions featuring dazzling costumes, vivacious dancing, and spectacle. While the same could likely be said about any number of modern female pop singers, few appear as sexy and powerful as Beyoncé, who doesn't need to accompany her performances with the tease of sleaze. Even songs in her act such as the Destiny's Child single "Bootylicious," a number celebrating the full-bodied female, retain a sense of prestige as Beyoncé is able to draw the line between being voluptuous and being tacky. With Solange. $39-$127. 5:30 p.m. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.673.0900. Chris DeLine

Arlo Guthrie

Fitzgerald Theater

In a career now longer than his iconic, incomparable father's, Arlo Guthrie has not only honored the family folk and activist traditions, but also roamed far and wide in the assorted realms of Americana while touching on rock and pop. He once even made it to the pop charts (with a definitive version of Steve Goodman's brilliant "City of New Orleans"), while also indelibly stamping himself on the national music consciousness with his comic-epic "Alice's Restaurant Massacre" and Woodstock performance of "Coming into Los Angeles." Those high points sometimes overshadow his superior abilities as a songwriter and song interpreter, especially of Woody's canon. His last two releases showcase both, along with his easy versatility. On In Times Like These, recorded live in 2006 with the University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra, Arlo is in sync with the orchestra's spirited performance of James Burton's elegant arrangements. But, as eloquently etched in the title tune, his overall mood is soberly reflective, hoping for better days ahead. Last year's far sprightlier 32¢/Postage Due, meanwhile, is an entirely engaging collection of Woody nuggets, performed by Arlo with bluegrass champs the Dillards. This will be a solo performance. $38. 7:30 p.m. 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul; 651.290.1220. —Rick Mason

Company Inc.

Eclipse Records

Company Inc. have spent years sifting through musical junk piles. Throughout their lifespan, they have fastened together abandoned trinkets from myriad genres to construct a fortress hidden in the shadows between chaos and beauty. In front of this backdrop, they choreograph their passion play. Cemented by angular bass lines, the foursome layers Nina Hagen-ish operatic vocals, carnal hooting, and abrasive lead guitar, letting the toxins boil until, exhausted, they relent and release the tension. The group's drive to experiment with tones and time signatures has led them to be one of the most daring and interesting bands in the cities. Perhaps it is the complexity of their music that has kept them relatively under the radar. Yet their jagged eloquence demands attention. With Lollipop Factory, Ribbons, and Right From Rona. All ages. $6. 7 p.m. 1922 University Ave., St. Paul; 651.645.7724. Erin Roof

FRIDAY 7.17

Keb' Mo'

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater

Greatly influenced by the likes of the legendary Robert Johnson (so much so that he accurately portrayed the bluesman in the 1998 documentary Can't You Hear the Wind Howl?), Keb' Mo' has taken the essence of the Delta blues and created his own sound, branching it with elements of everything from pop to African traditionals. Despite his three Grammy Awards for Best Contemporary Blues Album, Keb' Mo' isn't so much a modern-day blues musician as a bridge between yesterday and today. That might be why Martin Scorsese tapped the singer and guitarist to work with him on his seven-part miniseries simply titled The Blues. The series predominately features Keb' Mo's bottleneck-happy "Am I Wrong," in which the singer attempts to reason with his love, explaining he'll treat her better than anyone else out there. Whether Keb' Mo' ever convinced that woman, or whether she ever existed, it's a story for the ages and one that wholly exemplifies his place as a link between the old and the new. This will be Keb' Mo's fifth appearance at the Minnesota Zoo. $39. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Chris DeLine

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