Critics' Picks: Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Kid Cudi, and more

Reverend John Wilkins

Bayport BBQ on Sunday 7.10; 7th St. Entry on Monday 7.11

As with the work of his father, Robert Wilkins, the sounds of Memphis and the nearby North Mississippi Hill Country are both integral to Reverend John Wilkins's gloriously authentic country blues and gospel. The elder Wilkins, who played the folk circuit after being "rediscovered" in the 1960s, early on wrote secular songs like "That's No Way to Get Along," which after becoming a minister he reworked as "Prodigal Son," covered by the Rolling Stones on Beggars Banquet and son John on his full-length debut, You Can't Hurry God. The younger Wilkins played guitar on O.V. Wright's huge 1965 crossover hit "You're Gonna Make Me Cry," but turned to the ministry himself and now presides at a church in Como, Mississippi. Wilkins's vocals drip with pure soul on YCHG, his picking and slide work are revelatory, and an intrepid band kicks through scintillating arrangements that reflect both rural Mississippi and Memphis's Hi Records. Wilkins and a band will play two local gigs: Sunday at Bayport BBQ, the burgeoning juke joint on the St. Croix ($20; 8 p.m.; 328 Fifth Ave. N., Bayport; 651.955.6337) and Monday at the 7th St. Entry with Poverty Hash (18+; $8/$10 at the door; 8 p.m.; 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775). —Rick Mason

Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj

Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday 7.6

So they're a duo of sorts now, albeit an unlikely one: carnal producers' canvas Britney Spears and extraterrestrial freakshow femcee Nicki Minaj. Pop has seen stranger bedfellows than this, but the thought of a combined spectacle dedicated to Spears's waning tabloid sleaze, Minaj's still-fresh schizo rhymes, and some weird hybrid of the two is almost too much to bear, a cornucopia of pulsating, irradiated puke. Think about it too hard and it winds up as a Saturday Night Live-esque exercise is one-upswomanship. What the two have in common, besides this tour: that caustic "Til The World Ends" remix, a subconscious jealousy of Lady Gaga, and a deep, almost aggressive sexlessness that's at odds with a large part of what's supposed to make them marketable. Celebrity's a complicated thing. All ages. $49.50-$149.50. 7 p.m. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.726.8240. Ray Cummings

Basilica Block Party

Basilica of St. Mary on Friday 7.8 and Saturday 7.9

Once a year, the Basilica of Saint Mary opens its hallowed grounds to host one of the biggest outdoor rock 'n' roll parties in Minneapolis, as the Basilica Block Party brings in great bands and good times for both young and old alike. This year's lineup, while a bit less edgy than in years past, still has plenty of big names that are sure to draw in a capacity crowd over the course of the two-night event. David Gray, the Jayhawks, Lissie, and Fitz and the Tantrums are among the bands playing Friday night, while Ray LaMontagne, Amos Lee, Gomez, and Drive By Truckers will rock Saturday night, along with plenty of other celebrated national and local acts spread over both evenings. What continues to be a beneficial fundraising event to help restore the Basilica and extend the church's charitable outreach has also become a celebration of good music and (typically) great weather, all set against the backdrop of downtown Minneapolis under the striking summer sky. All ages. $40-$80. 5 p.m. 88 17th St. N., Minneapolis; 612.317.3511. Erik Thompson

Katy Perry

Xcel Energy Center on Saturday 7.9

Of all Madonna's children, Katy Perry is the fastest addiction: The first artist to not leave the Top 10 for a full year, she's all stadium-bright hooks with a disco bounce like United State of Electronica on a Pentagon budget. She's also the hardest crash: "Firework" is at once industrial-strength and appalling, so outsized in its hyped-up soupiness and sledgehammer vocals that its stupid lyrics are spine-tingling. Live, her movie-star expressions make her seem like she's in on whatever joke you take her for, and she prices tickets with the wisdom that pop is for the quick, not just the rich. All ages. $25-$47. 7:30 p.m. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.726.8240. Peter S. Scholtes

Toots & the Maytals

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater on Saturday 7.9

The original Maytals, who had a central role in the formative stages of reggae, are ancient history. But Toots Hibbert and his marvelous voice are still thriving, still negotiating the exquisite turf where piquant Jamaica meets Memphis soul, gospel, and R&B. As sweet as fine molasses but with a fiery, complex, textured bite, Hibbert's singing irrefutably proved reggae got soul decades ago. Leading the latest version of the Maytals on last year's Flip and Twist, Hibbert continues to smartly stray from reggae orthodoxy, flirting with disco, hip hop, funk, and blues, covering Stevie Wonder and Gamble and Huff. But the earthy grandeur of Hibbert's pipes ensures everything stays grounded, the hooks are always alluring, and reggae's primal hitch is never far off. With Natty Nation. All ages. $38. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason

Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys

Wilebski's Blues Saloon on Saturday 7.9

Not only does Rosie Ledet stand out as a rare female zydeco bandleader and wielder of the genre's signature accordion, she's also one of its finest contemporary songwriters and best singers. Ledet's voice would be exceptional in any context, its smokey timbre working nuances particularly applicable to the blues, where she could more than hold her own in the company of Bonnie Raitt or Marcia Ball. She has a nice way with ballads. But things get really steamy when she cranks up her squeezebox, her band weighs in, and she dives into one of her wicked double-entendre workouts like "You Can Eat My Poussière" or sizzles through a cover of Labelle's "Lady Marmalade." $10. 7:30 p.m. 1638 Rice St., St. Paul; 651.331.0929. —Rick Mason

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2 comments
J Mcb77
J Mcb77

Totally disagree with review of britney. Never been her biggest fan but I caught her show and it was awsome as is the till the world ends remix. Whoever wrote that review apparently needs 2 get out more or they are like 80 yrs old.

Brian Beck
Brian Beck

RAY CUMMINGS: I honestly don't think you have any idea of what you are talking about.

 
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