Dakota Jazz Club

The quietly harrowing atmosphere conjured up by the Cowboy Junkies is so dense, even fleeting contact could seriously bruise your psyche. Shadowy menace lurks in the exquisite dance between Michael Timmins's usually understated but barbed guitar and sister Margo Timmins's languid, darkly haunting vocals. The band first emerged in the late '80s with a striking version of the Velvet Underground's "Sweet Jane," from The Trinity Session, recorded with a single mic in a Toronto church. Nearly 20 years later, the Junkies returned to the church, along with guests Ryan Adams, Natalie Merchant, and Vic Chesnutt for Trinity Session Revisited, proving their hypnotic powers are still intact. Now the band's latest tour arrives on the cusp of an ambitious project that promises four albums in the next 18 months, inspired by the paintings of their friend Enrique Martinez Celaya. Dubbed the Nomad Series, its first volume, Remnin Park, is additionally based on Michael's recent three-month residency in China, the tracks built around found sounds he recorded there. Expect the band to mix old and new material in concert. $35-$45. 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

MONDAY 3.22

Vampire Weekend

First Avenue

Divisive indie-rockers Vampire Weekend
Tim Soter
Divisive indie-rockers Vampire Weekend

Ever since their debut album broke two years ago, Brooklyn's Vampire Weekend have proved to be both one of indie music's most popular acts and easily its most divisive. At the forefront are the openly collegiate pretensions of singer Ezra Koenig, who doesn't shy away from dropping literary references and peopling his songs with Benetton-wearing Ivy Leaguers, and the former Columbia students' airy brand of punk rock liberally mixes West African pop and Caribbean influences. Undeterred by accusations of appropriation and elitism and seemingly endless comparisons to Graceland, the quartet, if anything, only did more to annoy their critics with this year's follow-up, the chart-topping Contra, by ramping up the very same characteristics. Yet putting aside the Auto-Tune, the Very Best cameo, and the silly tennis video (and yes, even the Kid Cudi remix), at heart Vampire Weekend's tunes are often clever, intelligent love songs you can dance to—all in all, a breath of fresh air. With Abe Vigoda. 18+. $27.50. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Jeff Gage

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