The xx, Major Lazer and Rusko, and more


As Tall As Lions

Varsity Theater

With billowy clouds of synths building into thundering rampages of driving drums and guitars, quiet musings abruptly shifting into soaring sonic flights of fancy topped off by Dan Nigro's cascading vocals, plus the odd ethereal chorus and boho jazz trumpet accent, As Tall As Lions' sound is as eclectic as it is ambitious. The Long Island quartet's intensely textured drift, complete with multiple time signatures in many songs and frequent changes in mood(iness), owes a substantial debt to the progressive-rock era. ATAL's third album, last August's You Can't Take It With You, roams from quirky, earthy ambience to sparkling, stratospheric pop pastiches, while Nigro, somewhat skeptically, muses about finding meaning in life. A boozy, R&B vibe surfaces on one tune, "We's Be Waitin'," but Nigro undercuts its effectiveness by ludicrously singing through a megaphone. Opening is the Cincinnati duo Bad Veins, an indie-pop outfit with an improbably big sound thanks to a vintage reel-to-reel dubbed Irene. Singer-guitarist-keyboardist Benjamin Davis writes bristly tunes with sometimes grandiose hooks, his yearning vocals grappling with Irene's looming orchestrations, while Sebastien Schultz brings it back to earth with his gritty drumming. 18+. $12/$14 at the door. 7 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Rick Mason


Surfer Blood

Japandroids, you know, lightin' stuff on fire
Japandroids, you know, lightin' stuff on fire

Location Info


The Varsity Theater

1308 4th St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Category: Movie Theaters

Region: University

7th St. Entry

This could be your little brother's band: youthful and almost embarrassingly honest, stitching together an album in an off-campus apartment with cheap microphones and Pro Tools. Before they took on the Surfer Blood moniker and started popping up all over the web (and our own Current), the band went by Jabroni Sandwich, a name that sounds as much like an inside joke as it does that half-baked college jam group that your roommate swore was "really talented." But forget all that—the Florida band has managed to craft a debut (AstroCoast) full of cheery, winning guitar pop that's far more accomplished than their beginnings would have you believe. With the overt Beach Boys and Pavement influences, the songs seem tailor-made to hit indie fans at gut level, but these guys seem too eager, too sweet for brazen posturing. No knowing smirks for this band, just huge hooks and that sunny vibe that you've been itching for since the onset of spring. With Turbo Fruits. 18+. $9. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas

Julian Casablancas

First Avenue

It's hard to believe it was almost 10 years ago that the Strokes dropped Is This It. The band's Lower East Side chic was equally as important as the minimalist punk rock they played, and at the heart of their image and sound was singer Julian Casablancas, whose effortless bravado and coolly unhinged vocals not only embodied the quintet's style but also provided them with a bona fide sex symbol. Having started so superbly, however, the band's two follow-ups were almost inevitably let downs, leaving everyone to seek out solo projects. Casablancas dropped his, Phrazes for the Young, last fall, and while it carried much of the old Strokes sensibilities and a little of the attitude, it was also more adventurous, with songs like "11th Dimension" and "Glass" draped in '80s electro pop. With a new Strokes album due this year, there may be more reason than mere nostalgia to look forward to Casablancas's return. With Funeral Party. 18+. $20/$22 at the door. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Jeff Gage




New Orleans's Galactic long ago took on the task of taking Crescent City funk to new dimensions, and they have succeeded with audacious panache: fusing the second line and Mardi Gras Indian rhythms with acid jazz, hip hop, rock, even flirting with the avant-garde. The departure of Theryl DeClouet some years ago left the band without a singer, but Galactic never faltered, enlisting a slew of guests who have helped them soar even higher. Galactic's new Ya-Ka-May is a ferociously funky foray along the levee, picking up a formidable cross section of New Orleans musical royalty, including Irma Thomas, Allen Toussaint, Bo Dollis, John Boutté, Trombone Shorty, and the ReBirth Brass Band. But the stellar contributions don't supersede the groove or the track as a whole, each a remarkable quilt of past, present, and future Big Easy. On top of that, Galactic pay tribute to bounce, a local street-party variation of hip hop that builds off New Orleans trad rhythms, with guest shots from such bounce artists as Katey Red and Sissy Nobby. Galactic will have a couple of pretty spectacular guests at the Cabooze: scintillating singer and percussionist Cyril Neville of the mighty Neville Brothers, and Corey Henry, the ReBirth's trombone player. Opening will be T Bird and the Breaks, a smokin' funk and R&B band out of Austin, Texas. Their juicy, horn-driven sound, mostly featuring lead singer Tim Crane's originals, suggests a Texas roadhouse band deeply informed by James Brown. 18+. $20/$22 at the door. 8 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Rick Mason

The xx/jj

Varsity Theater

Despite only being teenagers at the time, the xx demonstrated remarkable maturity and diversity on their self-titled debut last year. The London trio's indie rock bears more than a little R&B influence, mixing in a surprising dose of Aaliyah with more predictable traces of the Cure. While their minimalist bent, which borders on downright shyness, is plenty seductive, what's most alluring about the band is the chemistry between the male and female vocalists: The soulful exchanges between Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft provide enough sparks to allow the xx's music to crackle and hiss without ever sneaking beyond their carefully reigned-in affections. Returning to Minneapolis after playing the Triple Rock last fall, the xx are joined by the similarly capital-letter-averse jj. The Swedish duo created a buzz last year simply by revealing next to nothing about their identity, so it will be intriguing to see how they stack up in the flesh. With Nosaj Thing. 18+. $14. 8 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Jeff Gage



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