Critics' Picks: Subhumans, Jeff Beck, House of Pain, and more

String Theory Music Festival

Various locations on Thursday 4.14-Sunday 4.17

Here's where the strings come in, indeed. With eight concerts spread over six different venues, the expansive String Theory Music Festival rolls through Minneapolis and St. Paul with varied, exploratory, string-laden sounds that can surely suit anyone's taste. Featuring performances from Owen Pallet (Final Fantasy), Nat Baldwin (Dirty Projectors), Tom Hagerman (DeVotchKa), and locals Dessa, Chan Poling, and Martin Devaney, there is plenty to draw in the genteel indie kids. But there is also a plethora of refined classical acts to appeal to the more traditional music fan, with the acclaimed JACK Quartet, Victoire, Missy Mazzoli, and Nadia Sirota all set to deliver stunning sets showcasing the enchanting, emotive power of bowed-string instruments. The four-day event will also feature many other captivating performances, a student recital, and workshops and classes dedicated to informing and enhancing the string experience. Sponsored by the McNally Smith College of Music, the String Theory Music Festival will certainly be a showcase for many profound, poignant compositions from truly talented, world-class musicians, and will bring a rightful spotlight on the beguiling sound of the subtle strings. At the Walker Art Center, History Theatre, Southern Theater, Artists' Quarter, MPR's UBS Forum, and McNally Smith. All ages. Free-$25. Full schedule and details at southerntheater.org. Erik Thompson

The Mighty Clouds of Joy

Victoire perform at the History Theater as part of the String Theory fest
Stephen S. Taylor
Victoire perform at the History Theater as part of the String Theory fest

Dakota Jazz Club on Wednesday 4.13 and Thursday 4.14

Although grounded in the African-American church, the transcendent power of gospel eclipses religion through the sheer visceral power of the music to induce listeners to shake it mercilessly while being transported to another plane. One of the jewels of gospel royalty, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, have been raising a righteous ruckus for more than a half century, led by the miraculous, raspy, soul-drenched howl of Joe Ligon. The traditional scintillating harmonies and call-and-response patterns are still the core of the Mighty Clouds' music. But over the years the group repeatedly has been an innovator: adding full instrumentation, choreographed moves worthy of the Temptations, elements of funk and even disco, and collaborating with secular artists. The current seven-piece Clouds have more than enough power to raise the Dakota's roof and inspire more secular praising of Jesus than a dozen Tea Party rallies. $40 at 7 p.m.; $25 at 9 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

Subhumans

Triple Rock Social Club on Thursday 4.14

It seems like we can't go a year without one old-guard punk band or another pulling together for a new tour, but almost none of them have the pedigree of U.K. hardcore legends the Subhumans. While the band took a detour into longer, pseudo-progressive songs in their later years, the fact that this tour features an original lineup all but promises a set full of the shouty, straight-ahead stormers that the group is best known for. Socially aware and politically outspoken, the Subhumans aren't looking to get rich, just for one more chance at spreading their message and reconnecting with their fans. With MDC, Varix, and Brain Tumors. All ages. $12. 7 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. Ian Traas

Golden Smog

Fine Line Music Café on Friday 4.15 and Saturday 4.16

Alt-rock-meets-alt-country supergroup Golden Smog are returning to the stage for their first local show in nearly three years. The last time they performed in the Twin Cities, they opened for then-President-Elect Obama at one of his rallies at the Target Center; this time, they're taking over the intimate Fine Line for a two-night stand that's being billed as "two very different nights of music." Wilco's Jeff Tweedy won't be in tow for these shows, but the rest of the band's core members will, including Marc Perlman and Gary Louris (the Jayhawks), Dan Murphy (Soul Asylum), Kraig Johnson (Run Westy Run, Iffy), and Jody Stephens (Big Star). With Gospel Gossip opening Friday night, and Red Pens opening Saturday. $25. 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. Andrea Swensson

Jeffery Broussard & the Creole Cowboys

Wilebski's Blues Saloon on Saturday 4.16

Youngest of the 11 children of the late, notable accordionist and Lawtell Playboys bandleader Delton Broussard, Jeffery Broussard made a name for himself in his early 20s as a member of Zydeco Force, a key instigator of the starkly contemporary nouveau zydeco movement. More than 20 years later, Broussard has come full circle as a keeper of the traditional zydeco flame with his Creole Cowboys. Their newly released Return of the Creole (Maison de Soul) is a roots-savvy collection of not only country-style zydeco—or la-la—with great covers of Clifton Chenier and Boozoo Chavis, but also Cajun ("Allons Lafayette"), Louisiana blues (Tabby Thomas's "I Love Big Fat Women"), and Creole, Broussard setting aside his accordion and picking up his fiddle for a wonderful cover of Canray Fontenot's "Old Carpenter's Waltz." This is the real deal. It'll make you laugh, cry, and dance up a storm. With Everett Smithson. 7:30 p.m., $10. 1638 Rice St., Maplewood, 651.331.0929. —Rick Mason

Low

First Avenue on Saturday 4.16

Even as larger and larger audiences embrace Low, they will always be a beloved Minnesota band—and no matter how far they travel, the striking surroundings of their Duluth home continue to color their music. Even as frontman Alan Sparhawk keeps expanding his sound with Retribution Gospel Choir, he still has plenty of riveting musical ideas left to explore with Low, as evidenced by their stirring new record, C'mon. And no matter how intoxicating their albums are, Low really transform their songs in a live setting, consistently delivering stunning performances that regularly leave audiences breathless and transformed. Plus, they typically save a little something extra for their local gigs, showing some added love to fans who have been so supportive of them from the start. With Halloween, Alaska. 18+. $20. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Erik Thompson

House of Pain

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