Critics' Picks: Wiz Khalifa, Rihanna, Florence & the Machine, and more

Bob Mould

Dakota Jazz Club on Wednesday 6.15

Bob Mould grew up in a working-class family in upstate New York, where, as he writes in his new autobiography, See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, music was an oasis from his sometimes supportive, sometimes abusive father. He remembers stacking 45s on the record player, studying the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees, whose melodies and harmonies he'd later fuse with the sound of a space-shuttle launch on Hüsker Dü's deathless '80s landmarks and on lesser but still excellent records with Sugar. Written with consultation from Michael Azerrad, author of the absorbing indie-rock history Our Band Could Be Your Life, the autobiography covers his time in dysfunctional families and bands, his late coming out and integration into the gay community, and his slow, difficult path to "self-acceptance, wholeness, and freedom." Mould is far from nostalgic, so expect this solo show to emphasize material from recent, guitar-led albums such as Life and Times and Body of Song, though you never know what he'll pull from his rich catalog. $25. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. Dylan Hicks

Wiz Khalifa

Cabooze Outdoor Plaza on Thursday 6.16

It's a good thing that Wiz Khalifa's outdoor showing at the summer-standard Cabooze Plaza is an all-ages event, since the rapper has an inexplicably young following that hangs on (and sings along with) each of his intensely blunted lyrics. Even though his breakthrough track "Black and Yellow" was ubiquitous around the end of the football season and has now been remixed into a faceless oblivion, Wiz is too laid-back and lit up to personally make the tireless rounds that his single has. He's content to set the wheels in motion and let them spin him to the top. With Big Sean. All ages. $35. 6 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. Ian Traas

Rihanna

Target Center on Thursday 6.16

With a voice like a buzzing neon light, Rihanna shows that a hard woman is good to find on pop radio, where dance-floor instruments become morning coffee of the subconscious. Yet good as she sounds on last year's Loud, there's a sense of drift since 2009's cathartic Rated R, a dead end in continually upping the ante on other people's escapism. (Covering Prince's "Darling Nikki" in concert only points out the problem.) Her hit list is peerless, however, and her opener, Cee Lo Green, is a smile broad and brash enough to span Goodie Mob and NBC's The Voice. All ages. $21.75-$101.75. 7:30 p.m. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.673.0900. Peter S. Scholtes

The Cave Singers

7th St. Entry on Thursday 6.16

A Seattle trio of erstwhile rockers, the Cave Singers cut the electricity upon forming in 2007 and dove headlong into an amiable, relatively laid-back variety of trad folk and folk-blues, sporting a touch of pop and given a curious edge via Pete Quirk's reedily textured lead vocals. But with the recent release of No Witch, the group's third album, the Cavers have again plugged in for a sound that's rawer, grubbier, greasier, and darker, influenced by haunted Appalachia, punk rock, and North Mississippi hard blues. The precipitous duel between Quirk's ragged pronouncements and Derek Fudesco's wild guitar over Marty Lund's flailing drums on tunes like "Black Leaf" and "No Prosecution If We Bail" suggest the Stones in Muscle Shoals or Led Zeppelin's rootsier tangents. With Laarks. 18+. $12. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason

James Cotton Band and Charlie Musselwhite

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater on Thursday 6.16

This is a rare opportunity to catch on the same bill two veteran blues harmonica masters, both with recent superb albums on Alligator that prove they're still in their prime. Both can wail with impressive firepower on the mouth harp, but their prowess in defining the blues through technical mastery and visionary passion really sets them apart. Charlie Musselwhite sings and plays with equal fervor on The Well, an extraordinary collection of autobiographical songs that eloquently detail such traumas as his struggle with alcoholism (the jazzy "Dig the Pain" and the title cut) and his mother's murder (the remarkably philosophical duet with Mavis Staples, "Sad and Beautiful World"). James Cotton, taught by Sonny Boy Williamson, was instrumental in defining modern blues harmonica while playing with Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters. On Giant, Cotton is a shining beacon of virtuosity while leading a great band anchored by members of Baton Rouge's musical Neal clan. All ages. $33. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason

Sondre Lerche

Fine Line Music Café on Friday 6.17

If there's a talented singer-songwriter who's lucky (or good) enough to get worldwide exposure at a young age, it's almost a given that they'll squander their initial goodwill, but Sondre Lerche has sidestepped the usual pitfalls with hard work. Lerche's seventh album is out now, and though he's tried on and discarded a number of sounds, he remains ever tasteful and polite, making the kind of music you can bring home to Mom. He's easy to like (maybe even love), and while his lack of sudden gestures may not grow his fan base by bounds, it will keep the ones he has very happy. With Nightlands and Kishi Bashi. 18+. $15/$17 at the door. 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Ian Traas

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