Ben Folds's piquant piano-pop has always been at his best when balancing snark and sincerity in equal measure. His standout records, like 2005's Songs for Silverman, covered varied emotional terrain, deftly weaving caustic commentary on conservative America ("Jesusland") with moving eulogies to dearly departed friends ("Late" ) and wry self-analysis ("Sentimental Guy"). Reunion album The Sound of the Life of the Mind teams Folds back up with bassist Robert Sledge and drummer Darren Jesse for the first Ben Folds Five album since 1999's Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, and falls just short in its laudable effort to follow Silverman's dynamic example. When the trio stops revisiting the fuzz-bass boisterousness of BFF's earliest albums and gets down to business, however, they're still capable of cranking out truly classic pop (as evidenced by the elegantly ambling "Hold That Thought"). With Kate Miller-Heidke. All Ages, $40, 8 p.m., 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007.
Sat., Sept. 29, 8 p.m., 2012