Critics' Picks: Schoolboy Q, Dr. Dog, Yacht, and more

Schoolboy Q

Varsity Theatre, Saturday 2.18

Though frequently compared with labelmate Kendrick Lamar, Los Angeles' Schoolboy Q is beginning to make some big noise of his own. His latest album, Habits and Contradictions, is grittier and more rough around the edges than those of his counterparts in the Black Hippy collective (Lamar, Ab-Soul, and Jay Rock). Pulling from his gang-affiliated past, Q crafts songs about drug-slinging and street violence, but it's his unpredictable charisma that sets him apart from traditional West Coast gangsta rap. His flow cuts sharply between smooth styling to unhinged mania at any given moment. He can zoom in to deal with the intensely personal or zoom out to reveal the bigger picture. This rare Minneapolis appearance stands to be a live rap highlight of the year. With the Tribe and Big Cats! and Audio Perm. 18+, $15-$20, 8 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis, 612.604.0222.Jack Spencer

Hugh Masekela

Dakota, Wednesday 2.15 And Thursday 2.16

Even in the darkest days of apartheid, when Hugh Masekela was in exile from his South African homeland, he infused his music with the effervescence of hope and joy. His high-flying flugelhorn and trumpet became beacons of destiny. So it shouldn't be a surprise that celebration flows like fine wine through Masekela's new album, Jubulani (Razor & Tie), inspired by the traditional wedding music and dances remembered from his youth. The songs are full of advice, support, cautions, regrets, and an abundance of love as well as bittersweet realizations, such as those of the boy who lost his best friend when his sister married and moved far away. The music, Masekela's blend of jazz and the myriad sounds of South Africa, is enthralling. His sterling horn pierces the scintillating rhythms, and his charismatic vocals exude warmth and wisdom while ululations rise from the chorus. Infectious jubilation will reign as this genuine legend leads his core, six-piece band at the Dakota. $30-$40. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 7 & 9 p.m. 612.332.5299. —Rick Mason

Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires

Fine Line Music Cafe, Thursday 2.16

For decades, Charles Bradley had all of the charisma, vocal chops, and emotion of the R&B greats—but none of the visibility. Last year's No Time for Dreaming (Daptone/Dunham) is a breakthrough debut achievement for an artist of any age, let alone a guy in his 60s who might have toiled away in obscurity as a James Brown cover act forever. The hunger in this man's voice is something that comes once in a generation, and aside from Brown, Al Green, and Otis Redding, there are few who dare tread where Bradley goes when he sings. 18+, $17.50-$20, 7:30 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis 612.338.8100. —Reed Fischer

YACHT

7th St. Entry, Thursday 2.16

YACHT's blissed-out dance party is one-of-a-kind. Mystical founder Jona Bechtolt and semi-recent vocal addition Claire L. Evans have worked hard to keep their ebullient sound growing more buoyant and propulsive with every release, including last year's Shangri-La. Their synthesizer-based tracks overflow with good-time lyrics and dynamic beats, but if you're digging too deep for meaning—beyond a return to youthful innocence—you're clearly missing the point. With Wiping Out Thousands and Bobby Birdman. 18+, $12-$14, 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775.Erik Thompson

Dr. Dog

First Avenue mainroom, Friday 2.17

Philadelphia-bred Dr. Dog have been on a steady rise into higher-fidelity rock over the past decade. Their latest collection, Be the Void, is a collection of loose, rollicking rock songs that aptly fit their spirited live shows. After cutting their teeth in opening slots for My Morning Jacket and the Black Keys, Dr. Dog put on a live show that's got everything a fan of classic Dylan, the Beatles, or the Band could want—and it's actually happening in 2012. With Purling Hiss. 18+, $21, 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Erik Thompson

Lizz Wright & Kurt Elling

Orchestra Hall, Saturday 2.18

Though the calendar says the lovers' holiday has passed, this pair of elite contemporary jazz vocalists aim to keep the romantic fires aglow with a joint appearance dubbed Be My Valentine. Both Lizz Wright and Kurt Elling, who will perform separately, are highly distinctive and original song interpreters whose idiosyncrasies consistently offer fresh insight into eclectic material. Georgia native Wright's roots are in gospel, and that spirit colors her wider forays into jazz, blues, and soul. On 2010's Fellowship, her powerful, dusky voice tackled a few gospel standards as well as tunes from Jimi Hendrix, Eric Claption, Gladys Knight, and Meshell Ndegeocello. Chicago's Elling uses his marvelously elastic baritone to extract fathoms of nuance from a vast array of jazz, pop, and rock, with striking arrangements mostly credited to Elling and pianist Laurence Hobgood. Last year Elling covered the likes of King Crimson, the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, and Miles Davis on The Gate (Concord), which by the time of this concert could very well have won this year's Grammy for best vocal jazz album. $25-$65. 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 8 p.m. 612.371.5656. —Rick Mason

The Jayhawks

State Theatre, Saturday 2.18

The earth-shifting significance of last fall's Mockingbird Time (Rounder) was the full-fledged resurrection of Minneapolis's own Jayhawks. Gary Louris and Mark Olson hadn't both appeared on a Jayhawks album since 1995's Tomorrow the Green Grass. But the return of the wayward Olson meant not only the revival of the Louris-Olson songwriting tandem and the duo's critical vocal harmonies. It puts back to full strength one of the definitive bands of its era and genre. Whether they're dubbed country-rock, alt-country, or Americana, the Jayhawks rank—sometimes uncannily—right alongside premier bands of a prior generation, especially Buffalo Springfield and the Flying Burrito Brothers. And it's not just Louris and Olson (see the duo's tentative 2008 disc Ready for the Flood). Without bassist Marc Perlman, keyboardist Karen Grotberg, and drummer Tim O'Reagan, the Jayhawks' dusty, leathery whine would fall a few feathers short. With innovations in songwriting, if not wholesale approach, Mockingbird doesn't merely revive the past but is a nice progression in the Jayhawks' rootsy context. $32.80 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 7:30 p.m. 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason

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