The Pretenders, Cloud Cult, and more

WEDNESDAY 8.19

The Pretenders

First Avenue

Nobody can accuse Chrissie Hynde of not being passionate, whether it's playing distinctive rock with the Pretenders, which she's been leading for some three decades, or sticking with her principles, which prompted this show's venue switch from the Minnesota Zoo to First Avenue. In case you were out chewing your cud and missed the flap, Hynde objected when she found out many of the animals on the zoo's farmstead were destined for somebody's lunch plate at the end of the summer. Anyway, Hynde and the Pretenders are riding high these days on the strength of last year's Break Up the Concrete, a comeback album of sorts rife with that classic Hynde passion as well as a more prominent dose of Americana spread throughout the songs. Expect a heavy dose of Concrete plus Pretenders nuggets stretching all the way back to "Brass in Pockets." There'll be a couple of potent openers: Cat Power, who offers a tasty Southern-fried mix of rock, soul, country, and pop; and Juliette Lewis, the veteran film actress turned rocker. $35.50-$61.50. 7:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason

THURSDAY 8.20

Aaron Neville Quintet

Dakota Jazz Club

Incongruously combining the muscled physique of a bouncer and the voice of an angel, Aaron Neville is a New Orleans music icon on two levels. As a solo artist he scored a number of local hits in the 1960s, including "Tell It Like It Is," one of the Crescent City's most indelible classics. With siblings Art, Charles, and Cyril, he created the Neville Brothers' masterful blend of NOLA R&B, soul, and second-line funk that have made them synonymous with New Orleans, eliciting nary a quibble when invariably introduced as the city's "heart and soul." Aaron's unique fluttery, soaring falsetto is as unlikely as it is magnificent. At New Orleans's annual Jazz Fest, while waiting for the Nevilles' customary fest-ending performance, Aaron often shows up unannounced in the gospel tent, singing with friends like the Zion Harmonizers. He has maintained a busy solo career alongside the Nevilles, occasionally getting sidetracked into inappropriate MOR material, but more often coming up with stunning versions of soul and R&B classics as well as songs from writers as varied as Dylan and Gershwin. In the Dakota's cozy confines, he'll lead his touring quintet, which includes brother Charles and his snaky jazz saxophone. $50-$80. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. Also Wednesday —Rick Mason

FRIDAY 8.21

Now, Now Every Children

Fine Line Music Café

Now, Now Every Children, coming off an opening spot for Passion Pit, are back playing live in the Twin Cities this weekend. After some great national exposure playing the Bamboozle festival in May and shows across mid-America this summer, Cacie Dalanger's delighting vocals and Brad Hale's speedy drum kit return in support of an EP-release show for another local act, Red Fox Grey Fox. The Minneapolis duo (a foursome on tour, with Britty Hale on keys and Eric Brew on bass) continue to ride the critical success of their debut LP, Cars, this time opening for a band that echoes well their meandering angst. Red Fox Grey Fox appear poised to surprise, bringing melancholic vocals laced with punk-spiked peaks. Their new EP, A Snake. A Scoundrel. This Man is Cursed., brings more rough edges than their earlier work. With Now and Forever and Friends of AMS. $8 for 21+; $9 for 18+. 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. Warren Wills

Dream Theater

Orpheum Theatre

In roughly its 25th year, Dream Theater is an absolute anomaly. The progressive metal group recently scored its highest selling album, Black Clouds & Silver Linings, which debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard's Top 200, selling 40,285 copies. It was a feat made more improbable considering the band was joined in the top 10 by the likes of the Jonas Brothers and Black Eyed Peas, and even more impressive considering that the lead single from Dream Theater's 10th studio release, A Rite of Passage, failed to chart and was given little to no radio play. This accomplishment is most definitely a testament to the band's strong fan base, but it also reflects the group's quality recordings and legacy as a touring workhorse. One could say that Dream Theater are at the top of their game, and there are few bands that can make such a statement after such a lengthy career. Also performing with the 2009 Progressive Nation Tour are Zappa Plays Zappa (a Frank Zappa tribute act led by his son Dweezil), Bigelf, and Scale the Summit. $44-$59. 6 p.m. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. Chris DeLine

Red Stag Block Party

Red Stag Supper Club

A Minneapolis summer staple, it's time for block party number 27 and one more chance to stand for hours on end, gawking at the familiar faces you've seen at all the other pavement parties this season. The Red Stag Block Party has all of the typical/now crucial block party elements: 1) Foxy Tann as MC and loud seductress, 2) North Star Roller Girls with outfits more exiting than their actual demos, 3) hippies hula hooping, 4) local music we've seen play outside more than inside, and 5) zero-waste attendees who make sure you throw your booze cup in the right trash receptacle. The lineup features hip hop, trashy rock, and sultry vocals, including Roma di Luna, Black Blondie, Heiruspecs, Chooglin, Romantica, E.L.n.O., and Mark Mallman. Get there early and check out a NE Boardwalk Fashion show featuring 10 boutiques; stay late for the after-party inside with redheaded sister DJs Tendercakes. All ages. Free. 4 p.m. 509 First Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.767.7766. —Amber Schadewald

Marcy Playground

Fine Line Music Cafe

It's hard to say what's more surprising about Marcy Playground: the fact that this band is still rocking 12 years after its radio hit, "Sex and Candy," was overplayed into oblivion, or the fact that it turns out lead singer John Wozniak is a Minnesota native, and that he named his band after the Marcy Open grade school in Minneapolis. Who knew? The band is currently touring in support of its fourth studio album, Leaving Wonderland...in a Fit of Rage, and the songs show a significant growth from the "Sex and Candy" years (although one song, "Gin and Money," seems to play on their previous hit's theme). Songs shuffle along in a fairly typical folk-rock format, but the lyrics are more personal than one would expect from such a radio-friendly group, at times veering into something resembling soul music. With Stealing Seconds. 18+. $15/$18 at the door. 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. Andrea Swensson

SUNDAY 8.23

Cloud Cult

Cabooze

It's been another busy year for Cloud Cult. This summer alone, the band toured, played large-scale festivals like Coachella and 10,000 Lakes, and released their first tour documentary, No One Said It Would Be Easy. So it's no wonder that they're having trouble slowing down—Sunday's show at the Cabooze is being billed as their last live show in 2009, as lead singer Craig Minowa and his wife, Connie (who can often be seen live-painting on stage during their performances), are expecting a baby this October. The band will be on hiatus until spring, but before they take a break they just had to cram in a few more performances; in addition to Sunday's show, Craig Minowa will take over the Current this Thursday, August 20, for an episode of Theft of the Dial, in which Minowa will spin songs and act as a guest DJ. Cloud Cult will be joined at the Cabooze by Halloween, Alaska and the Daredevil Christopher Wright. 18+. $20/$22 at the door. 4 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Andrea Swensson

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