Gorillaz, Temper Trap, Sufjan Stevens, and more

WEDNESDAY 10.13

The Drums

Varsity Theater

The Drums' lead single from their debut album is called "Let's Go Surfing," but surfing is probably best understood as a metaphor for escape. Raised in a strictly evangelical household, frontman Jonathan Pierce was prohibited from listening to pop music as a child and was forced to discard any unapproved records his parents discovered in his room. Yet in a deliciously ironic twist, Pierce met future bandmate and guitarist Jacob Graham while attending a Christian youth camp. Only one track on the Drums' debut mentions Jesus by name, but temptation and redemption are recurring themes throughout, even if musically The Drums draws exclusively from secular and British sources—c86 disciples the Wake and their more arena-minded descendents like New Order and the Cure chief among them. Maybe it's short of a revelation to those with a passing familiarity with the era, but Pierce's teen dreams are sacred all the same. Opening for Surfer Blood, with openers the Dewars. 18+. $15. 8 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. Jonathan Garrett

THURSDAY 10.14

The Temper Trap

The Temper Trap, looking too cool for school
The Temper Trap, looking too cool for school
Indie doll Sufjan Stevens
Marzuki Stevens
Indie doll Sufjan Stevens

First Avenue

Let's try an experiment. Put this newspaper aside right now, and see if you can name five bands based in Australia. No rush. We'll wait. If your mental rummage trawl turned up Midnight Oil and INXS, give yourself pounds—then add the Temper Trap to that list. It took the ubiquity of "Sweet Disposition"—if you didn't catch 500 Days of Summer, you've likely seen one of the roughly 500,000 TV commercials pimping this bona fide single—to garner the Melbourne foursome the international attention they deserve. Given front man Dougy Mandagi's commanding, malleable presence and the string of stirring, mammoth anthems on debut Conditions, comparisons to much-feted grandiose pop-gesture masters of the non-American persuasion—your Keanes, your U2s, your Coldplays, your Phoenixes, you get the picture—are pretty much inevitable. Unlike their contemporaries, though, the Temper Trap have a definite sense of restraint—why seize the World Cup-audience-sized hook at the 30-second mark when you can sock it home two minutes in?—and are determined to examine melodic driftwood from more than three different angles before sinking in a carving knife. If you think this band is inescapable now, you ain't seen nothing yet. 18+. $15. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. Ray Cummings

FRIDAY 10.15

Chuck Prophet

Turf Club

Chuck Prophet first came to semi-prominence in the mid-'80s when he joined countrified California rockers Green On Red, and has since pursued a varied career as a singer-songwriter, session man, and producer (Kelly Willis's Translated From Love, for instance). His ninth solo album, ¡Let Freedom Ring!, is bar-band rock of a high order: smart, loud, funny, simple, pissed off, but also sentimental in that last-call sort of way. It's also attuned to Great Recession anxiety and passionately pro-underdog (a typical line: "She was unwanted in 17 states"), most notably on the Randy Newman-meets-Tom Verlaine ballad "You and Me Baby (Holding On)," whose backing harmonies and soaring bridge get me every time. 21+. $13. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. Dylan Hicks

SATURDAY 10.16

Sufjan Stevens

Orpheum Theatre

If you're hoping that someday Sufjan Stevens will actually get back to the 50 States Project (where he set out to make a record dedicated to each state in the U.S.), you could be stuck hoping for a long time. One massive nail in the coffin is Steven's new LP, The Age of Adz, a sprawling, ambitious thing that presents a fractured take on the ultra-delicate sounds that were so prevalent on his breakthrough. Shards of orchestral majesty rub elbows with chintzy electronics and huge choral peaks before the songs dial themselves back, taking up less space and reinterpreting their own themes—it's miles away from Illinois. Sufjan seems to have a knack for the beautifully slight as well as the mind-bendingly complex, and with this most recent record, he's finally showing both sides. Add Stevens' fondness for creating a spectacle to the sheer scale of his newest work, and the idea of missing him on this tour starts to look a lot like regret. All ages. $35. 7 p.m. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. Ian Traas

SUNDAY 10.17

Gorillaz

Target Center

Arguably the biggest cartoon band this side of Kiss, Gorillaz, from the get-go, have been far more interesting musically than the bland roar of the grease-painted crew ever was. On stage, the Gorillaz extravaganza now on tour may rival the vintage Kiss circus, with film, artwork, and stage design created by Gorillaz animation mastermind Jamie Hewlett, leading one observer to call it "pop spectacle done right." Meanwhile, Gorillaz musical mastermind Damon Albarn—late of Blur—backs up the visual hijinks with an increasingly nuanced pastiche of potent cross-cultural artifacts, running the gamut from pop to soul to hip hop and largely making the transition from comics soundtrack to genuine, flesh-and-blood stuff with this year's Plastic Beach. As usual, Albarn assembled an intriguing array of guests to take the helm when he's not etching fine-boned English pop with his Ray Davies-like croon, ranging from sly Snoop Dogg to effervescent De La Soul to soulster Bobby Womack to Lou Reed's arid irony. Juggling gamelan-like exoticism, soul-funk space invaders, lush pop, and wired hip hop, Gorillaz have achieved full dimensionality. Many of those who helped out on Plastic Beach are along on tour, including Mick Jones and Paul Simonon of the Clash, Womack, De La Soul, Little Dragon, Kano, and Bashy. With N*E*R*D. $51.50-$92. 7:30 p.m. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.673.0900. —Rick Mason

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