7th St. Entry

As the old adage goes, it takes 20 years to become an overnight success. Though Sick of Sarah are miles away from catching a glimpse of that two-decade milestone (their five-year anniversary isn't too far off, however), the five-piece all-female rock group may very well be on the verge of capturing that evasive status. A self-described mixture of Joan Jett, Michelle Branch, Riot Grrl, and 1970s classic rock, the Minneapolis-based band has been doing everything in its power to ensure that those five years don't turn into 20. Aside from playing everywhere from a Hot Topic sit-in to the recent Pride kickoff, Sick of Sarah have just returned from a tour supporting San Francisco electro-rockers Von Iva and will soon be heading back out on a month-long Midwest tour in August. That's all on top of playing regular Twin Cities dates while recording their sophomore release—and don't forget the day jobs, either. With that expected album coming in the fall, the band also recently released a four-song EP titled The Best Thing. Whether the band will become a success is uncertain, but one thing is for sure: The best is yet to come. Sick of Sarah will be performing with the Melismatics and Lynhurst. All ages at 5 p.m.; 21+ at 9 p.m. $6. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Chris DeLine

SUNDAY 7.19

Old 97's

First Avenue

In some circles it's a beloved term that is welcomed with unequivocal praise, and one that is used only in an endearing light. In others it's a tired label that refers to a style of music that has long since worn out its welcome. Regardless of your opinion of the genre, there's no better way to describe the music of Dallas's Old 97's than to simply call it alt-country. Throughout its 16-year history the band has outlived many of its contemporaries (Whiskeytown, Uncle Tupelo) only to continue by growing in popularity and exposure with each subsequent release. While singer Rhett Miller's solo work is much acclaimed in its own right (his eponymous 2009 release received four out of five stars from Rolling Stone), the band has garnered both its highest ever charting position and some of its highest praise with its latest album, 2008's Blame It on Gravity. Regardless of critical or commercial appeal, however, Old 97's have always lived and died by the band's live shows—a true testament to their longevity, regardless of genre. Miller and 97's bassist Murray Hammond will be opening the show in what is being billed as "An Evening with Old 97's." 18+. $20/$22 at the door. 7:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Chris DeLine

TUESDAY 7.21

Bowerbirds & Megafaun

7th St. Entry

This is a mini-jamboree of freak folk, featuring a fine pair of North Carolina-based bands. Bowerbirds play sparse, entrancing acoustic music that's a crucial blend of folk, country, and indie pop, seemingly as creaky as an old shack buried in the woods but savvy to a more sophisticated aesthetic. Principals Phil Moore and Beth Tacular weave fractured harmonies that seem as ancient as the hills, if the hills had recently been alive with the sounds of John Doe and Exene Cervenka. On their quirky, spookily atmospheric new album, Upper Air, they ruminate about love and other human conundrums. The group is rounded out by fiddler Mark Paulson and drummer Matt Damrod, while Megafaun's Brad Cook will sit in on upright bass. Cook, his brother Phil, and Joe Westerlund—all natives of Eau Claire—formed Megafaun after the demise of their former band, DeYarmond Edison, which also featured fellow Wisconsinite Justin Vernon, better known as Bon Iver. The trio plays a singular kind of avant-jug-band music, blending backwoods folk with elements of experimental noise and jazz, banjos, and sing-alongs smack up against pre- or post- (take your pick) industrial stomp. Their new album, Gather, Form & Fly, self-recorded in kitchens and basements but mixed with the help of the estimable Chris Stamey, is due out the day of the show. With the Wars of 1812. 18+. $10. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason

Sonic Youth

First Avenue

With the band closing in on the big three-oh, the latter half of Sonic Youth's moniker may be getting a bit disingenuous. As for SY's splendid escapades to the far reaches of sonic galaxies, they're thriving with lithe, explosive vigor on The Eternal, the veteran band's initial return to an indie label (Matador) after nearly two decades in the majors (with Geffen). In fact, much of Eternal glows with hot embers of the band's original inspiration: bristling experimentation with dissonance, noise, peculiar tunings, drones, layered guitars, and the avant-garde intensity of the Velvet Underground, which all oozed out of the early-'80s New York no-wave scene. The album bristles from the first disjointed chords of the lead track, "Sacred Trickster," which quickly escalates into a charging rocker, with Kim Gordon's cool yowl cutting across churning guitars. The more diffident "Leaky Lifeboat," inspired by beat poet Gregory Corso, nonetheless has so many spiky, off-kilter elements that it threatens to plunge into the abyss at any turn. "What We Know" cranks up the ominous quotient several fold, with Lee Ranaldo spouting dire lyrics about identity, while "Poison Arrow" is SY at its most Velveteen. In short, Eternal is packed with such scintillating, fierce, challenging, and driving rock that it sounds like just that, Sonic Youth apparently going for the really long haul. SY is a quintet these days, incidentally, with former Pavement bassist Mark Ibold joining Gordon, Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, and Thurston Moore. With Awesome Color. 18+. $30. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason

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