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

Sick of Sarah

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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