Orpheum Theatre, Saturday 9.29

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. —Rob Van Alstyne

Laetitia Sadier

400 Bar, Sunday 9.30

Thee Oh Sees get that sinking feeling
john dwyer
Thee Oh Sees get that sinking feeling

So much of the mystery of Stereolab — the band's insouciant radical poetry, its melancholic optimism — was wrapped up in French-born lead singer Laetitia Sadier, who has continued solo since the group announced its indefinite hiatus in 2009. On her new and second album, Silencio, Sadier keeps the nonplused, jazzy modulations and Occupy politics of old, but gets economic with song structure, upping the rock on "Next Time You See Me" (which clocks in at 2:43) and funk on "Fragment pour le future de l'homme," which contains easily the coolest synthesizer solo of the decade. With Orca Team. 18+, $10, 7:30 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.244.5563. —Peter S. Scholtes

Esperanza Spalding

State Theater, Sunday 9.30

Esperanza Spalding is an outstanding singer, jazz bassist, composer, arranger, and producer whose genre-spanning work draws inspiration from a kaleidoscopic palette. And she is the first jazz artist to win — much deservedly in 2011 — the Grammy for best new artist. Her current tour, featuring an 11-piece band, is based on this year's Radio Music Society, which focuses on jazz in a pop context laced with soul, funk, and R&B, and designed as a companion to 2010's jazz/classical/Brazilian hybrid Chamber Music Society. Sometimes suggesting the hipper edge of Steely Dan or, more often, Weather Report (including a riveting, angular cover of Wayne Shorter's "Endangered Species"), Radio Music employs a deep cast of jazz heavy hitters to pop-ularize jazz ideas. $33-$73. 7:30 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason

Grizzly Bear

First Avenue, Monday 10.1

Each Grizzly Bear album feels like a further refinement of its predecessors, which is amazing, since even early material smacked of meticulous attention to sound design. It's a band that seems to have its own feng shui, each sound placed in exactly the right space to allow its energy to flow undisturbed. That said, new album Shields feels even more agonized over than ever, with complex songs that slide gracefully from haunted to jaunty without losing its perfect poise. That Grizzly Bear manage to hold the same poise in a live setting is remarkable, and even if the music reads as "low-key", their performance remains a thrilling balancing act to behold. With Lower Dens. 18+, $35, 7:30 p.m., 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas


400 Bar, Monday 10.1

Amber Papini manages the seemingly impossible task of making ennui and aimlessness sound invigorating (and occasionally downright alluring) on the debut album by her excellent Brooklyn-based trio Hospitality. Using her tiredness with twentysomething rootlessness in the Big Apple as lyrical inspiration in buoyant, jangly songs like "Eighth Avenue" and "Liberal Arts," Papini eloquently bemoans dreary social and professional prospects in an understated alto ("So you found the lock/But not the key that college brings/And all the trouble of a B.A. in English literature/Instead of law or something more practical") and set to a sharply uplifting musical backdrop replete with the occasional bright blasts of brass. Angst-ridden music has rarely sounded so instantly ingratiating. With TEEN and the Joseph Bell. 18+, $8, 8 p.m., 400 Cedar Avenue S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. —Rob Van Alstyne

« Previous Page