331 Club

This all-day local music extravaganza should not be missed. The vord Mules' Pigpen-filthy, whiskey-splattered blues-rock is a thing of absolute beauty live, where it sounds even more dangerous and unpredictable. Halloween, Alaska have slowly become this city's authority on epic dream-pop, but theirs has razor-sharp claws and lyrics that make you want to do more with yourself than you're doing, no matter what it may be that you do. And no band has made more noise (both literally and figuratively) in the past 12 months than Red Pens. The boy-on-guitar/girl-on-drums thing seemed to have been done to death, but it's never been like this. They're amazingly loud (like a shop class held on an airport runway) but they are a pop band at heart, and the songs are structured as such (read: you'll find yourself dancing a bit as your teeth rattle around inside your skull). And then there's the rest of the lineup: Chris Koza, the Dynamiters, Zoo Animal, Minneapolis Dub Ensemble, the Alpha Centauri, the Roe Family Singers, and Man Is Doomed. None of these bands really has much left to prove, but they don't know that yet and it's to everyone's advantage. Noon. Free. 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.331.1746. Pat O'Brien

SUNDAY 5.16

Stick Men

The Cedar 

If you don't scour YouTube for mid-'80s King Crimson vids, or read guitar magazines, you'd be forgiven for not knowing about the Chapman Stick. The Stick, revered for nearly 40 years in string-bending cognoscenti circles, consists of a wide guitar-like fret board tapped with two hands. The hands are able to roam free of each other, allowing for a wide range of rhythm, embellishment, and harmony. King Crimson's Tony Levin and session man/instructor Michael Bernier have been longtime boosters of the Stick, reveling in the instrument's unconventional sonic toolbox. Performing as Stick Men (with Crimson percussionist Pat Mastelotto), they lay out a technically stunning, cheerfully indulgent program on their latest, Soup. There're some charming nods to prog's wooly past (Stravinsky's "Firebird," anyone?) and some channeling of Crimson bandmate Adrian Belew's word-association vocalizing on the title cut, but there are also bracing instrumentals to tempt the open-minded, like the undulating, plaintive "Inside the Red Pyramid" and the busy, crushing "Relentless." All ages. $25/$28 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. Cecile Cloutier

Christian McBride and Inside Straight

Dakota Jazz Club

Even before ending his brief stay at Juilliard to join Roy Hargrove's band, Christian McBride was an in-demand bassist, playing dozens of sessions as well as being a member of Bobby Watson's band. Two decades later, McBride is universally acknowledged as one of the great bassists of our time. He's also a bandleader, a versatile session player with contributions stretching from Chick Corea to Natalie Cole to Sting, a composer, an arranger, a jazz educator, a radio host, and an activist on multiple fronts. McBride's current quintet, Inside Straight, was assembled for a date at New York's Village Vanguard in 2007. In contrast to some electric McBride projects in recent years that ventured into funk, hip hop, and fusion, Inside Straight is an all-acoustic, essentially straight-ahead outfit that blithely references jazz tradition while moving forward via melodically charged tunes. On board are revered pianist Eric Reed, drummer Carl Allen, saxophonist Steve Wilson, and young vibes up-and-comer Warren Wolf Jr. On last summer's Kind of Brown, McBride's glorious wooden tone and imaginative runs anchor a sound that slyly incorporates elements of the blues, gospel, swing, and bop. There's a bright, lively romp through Freddie Hubbard's "Theme for Kareem," with Wilson particularly shining on alto, in tribute to the late trumpeter, and a scintillating new version of "Shade of the Cedar Tree," which McBride wrote with pianist Cedar Walton in mind. The album concludes with a lovely duo take on the standard ballad "Where Are You?" with Reed's delicate piano and McBride's elegant bowing engaged in a languid dance. $30 at 7 p.m.; $20 at 9:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. Also Monday —Rick Mason

MONDAY 5.17

Local Natives/Suckers

400 Bar

Gorilla Manor, the ambitious debut album from the Los Angeles quintet Local Natives, is in one sense a pastiche of prevailing indie-pop elements, each song characterized by complex arrangements that ebb and flow, shift directions and rhythms, and invoke often impressionistic lyrics that flirt with deeper meaning. Quick contemporary comparisons suggest Grizzly Bear (massed vocals), Los Campesinos! (group ethos), My Morning Jacket (guitar figures), and Animal Collective (polyrhythmic pulse). But Local Natives manage to establish their own identity by putting it all together in consistently interesting ways. The three-part harmonies, for instance, vary from ragged shouting to soaring falsetto cloudbursts to swirling call-and-response chattering to stuff just short of classical choral. And that can be in a single song: "Sun Hands," for instance, is an appropriately catchy dose of sunny spirit that also sports a neat psychedelic guitar rave. Despite splinters of juju guitar and the odd reggae beat, it would be a stretch to attribute full-blown Afrobeat or other global influences to the band. But these guys like to stretch things, and Local Natives' restlessness makes compelling music. Brooklyn-based label mates Suckers, meanwhile, have their own unbridled pop ambitions. The quartet's forthcoming full-length debut, Wild Smile, is equally dense with grand, euphoric pop whose lush arrangements often suggest the touch of a postmodern Brian Wilson. At the same time, these Suckers are not averse to middling, inebriated sing-alongs like "It Gets Your Body Movin'," perfect for audience-band bonding amid fractured whistlers' choruses and intimations that ambulatory ambitions might prove problematic. 18+. $8/$10 at the door. 8 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. —Rick Mason

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