Sage Francis, the Fleshtones, and more

Flanagan, Andrew

WEDNESDAY 5.19

The Twilight Sad

Triple Rock Social Club

If My Bloody Valentine is the loudest live band, the Twilight Sad may be the most intense, thanks to their brooding frontman, James Graham. Though Graham rarely engages the audience, preferring to sing while staring off to one side, he's nonetheless a commanding presence and provides a much-needed visual anchor for the band's ominous squalls. A Scottish brogue as thick as his might be distracting with sparer arrangements, but when backed by guitarist Andy MacFarlane's molten feedback, his accent actually serves as a welcome folksy counterpoint. Last year's Forget the Night Ahead lacks its predecessor's volcanic peaks, but what it sacrifices in scale it gains in power: Songs like "Made to Disappear" and "The Neighbors Can't Breathe" find the rhythm section adding their own driving, assertive stamp. No one would describe the Twilight Sad as controlled, but Night certainly proves them capable of tightening their grip. Opening for Japanese instrumental rockers Mono. 18+. $12/$15 at the door. 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Jonathan Garrett

THURSDAY 5.20

The Fleshtones

Lee's Liquor Lounge

Almost 35 years since starting out in the wilds of Queens and soon after landing on the wild stage of CBGB, the Fleshtones are still out in the garage thrashing out raw, perhaps surprisingly vital rock 'n' roll ensnared in a serious time warp. The Fleshtones' world is fast, short, and exuberant, the party-hearty hooks hitched to Keith Streng's snarly, fuzzed-out guitar, muscular propulsion from drummer Bill Milhizer and newcomer (well, early '90s) bassist Ken Fox, and raucous yowls—plus the odd Farfisa organ workout—from Peter Zaremba. The Tones' patented, self-described Super Rock contains virtually nothing post-1967, but plenty of juicy stuff from before, running from Lee Dorsey to the Rascals to the Kingsmen, MC5, Mitch Ryder, and Paul Revere and the Raiders. Decades after they should have burned out, the Fleshtones are still an adrenalin rush showing no signs of abating. Catch 'em in the Flesh at Lee's. With the Anonymus and Fuck Knights. 21+. $10/$12 at the door. 9 p.m. 101 Glenwood Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.9491. —Rick Mason

FRIDAY 5.21

Sage Francis

First Avenue

No one MC defines indie hip hop better than Sage Francis. The unlikeliest of natives from Providence, Rhode Island, he owns his own label (Strange Famous), his fans are mostly urban white kids, and, most importantly, he walks the line lyrically between indie and mainstream, boasting about a conquest here but then getting all touchy-feely and maybe even tossing in a goofy pun or two there, all the while delivering his thoughts, whims, and proclamations in a stoned, poetry-slam-like tone. And right there—which is admittedly right about at the beginning—is where people diverge. There is the camp who think he's an extremely lucky pothead/knucklehead and those who think he's playing the role of extremely lucky pothead/knucklehead, while in reality Francis is a canny, whip-smart, lyrically gifted MC who can spit rhymes with the best of the best of them. He's in town on the heels of his latest release, Li(f)e, and while it's not as strong as his other works, it's still interesting and might have a long payoff. Now it's up to you to decide if the naysayers had it right all along, or if this is an album that nobody will understand until the next one. With Free Moral Agents and B. Dolan. 18+. $17/$18 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775.—Pat O'Brien

SATURDAY 5.22

Josiah Wolf

7th St. Entry

Delivered by a man, "My apartment smells like divorce" is hardly an objective sentiment. It could suggest olfactory presences or absences as easily as it might transcend that sort of literalism. Surfacing halfway through Jet Lag, the shaken-not-stirring debut from Why? member Josiah Wolf, that plainspoken lyric is little more than an encapsulation of what the album is about. Jet Lag doesn't so much swagger in its olly-olly-oxen-free as it drags its Chucks through aftermath remorse, a wallow of acoustic dither and total-recall regret, of telling pre-splitsville moments re-examined. Wolf's songwriting mein mirrors that of his brother, Yoni, so: more run-on sentences than verses proper, more confessional than fitted to chordal strictures that are purposefully elastic anyway in a questing Silver Jews/Mountain Goats style. Wolf isn't lobbying for pity votes here; he's just rooting through the wreckage, trying to figure out what caused his life to crash and burn. With Dark Dark Dark. 18+. $8. 9 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ray Cummings

SUNDAY 5.23

The Tallest Man on Earth

Varsity Theater

Let's get the silly stuff out of the way first: Kristian Mattson (a.k.a. the Tallest Man on Earth) isn't really all that tall. But his majestic songs are indeed colossal, even if they are performed solely by a man and his battered guitar. Mattson's music is striking in its simplicity, and the unvarnished nature of his sound only serves to add to its appeal. The Swedish singer is touring behind his recently released gem The Wild Hunt, which should (in a just world) end up on many year-end 'Best Of' lists. And while his stellar recording output is enough to make a lasting impression on music fans everywhere, it's performing live where Mattson truly shines and his stately songs take flight. Though the Dylan comparisons continue to shadow him, Mattson wears the burden like a badge, even cheekily name-checking "Boots of Spanish Leather" on his excellent new single, "King of Spain." The plush confines of the Varsity Theater should be the perfect setting to witness one of the best songwriters in modern music spinning his searching tales of love and loss. 18+. $12. 8 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Erik Thompson

MONDAY 5.24

Buzzcocks

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