Walker Art Center, Saturday 11.10

Formerly half of the experimental collage-pop duo the Books, Nick Zammuto leads a new quartet that goes by his surname and takes the fundamental elements of the Books to a new dimension. Many of the tracks on last spring's eponymous debut are more songlike than the Books' material, built around vocals — albeit often electronically altered — and less fragmented. Although thoroughly eccentric, unlikely pop hooks lurk in the whimsy, angling through a surprisingly organic array of samples, electronics, and regular instrumentation, densely layered like "Weird Ceiling," pointillistic like "YAY," or at large in a funky robotic funhouse like "Zebra Butt." Eluvium is Matthew Cooper, whose ambient electronic compositions can morph from symphonic to static, conjuring evocative atmospheres that shift on textural and melodic cues somehow tied to pop. $20, 8 p.m. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. —Rick Mason

Bruce Springsteen

Xcel Energy Center, Sunday 11.11 + Monday 11.12

The tenor of Bruce Springsteen's post-election arrival in St. Paul could either be celebratory release if Obama wins, or a desperate search for meaning if Romney seizes power. Stumping for Obama through the fall while segments of his "Land of Hope and Dreams" accompanied the Giants' delirious run to World Series victory, Springsteen embodied the spirit and underlying theme of virtually his entire body of work. Glimmers of inspiration lurk amid the wreckage on those backstreets, reject the forces of darkness (on the edge of town), and forge ahead to the promised land. That, of course, is reflected in the band's always evolving set lists, which lately have been peppered with rousing anthems like "No Surrender" and a smattering of the hard-times songs off this year's Wrecking Ball along with nuggets as far back as "Spirit in the Night." The late saxophonist Clarence Clemons's spot has been filled — reportedly admirably — by nephew Jake Clemons, part of a five-horn contingent of E Streeters, who still prove it all night. $70-$100, 7:30 p.m. 199 West Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 800.745.3000. —Rick Mason

Bettye LaVette

Dakota, Monday 11.12 + Tuesday 11.13

Despite scoring a couple of hits on the R&B charts when she was a teenager in the early '60s, Bettye LaVette was barely even a rumor for the next four decades. She finally burst on the scene with the 2005 Anti release I've Got My Own Hell to Raise, and she's been living up to the title's claim ever since, astonishing with her soulful pipes and her ability to wring every iota of emotion out of a lyric. After thoroughly reinventing the British invasion songbook last time out and releasing an autobiography (A Woman Like Me), LaVette is celebrating 50 years in show biz by touring behind her latest collection of blues, gospel, and soul-drenched covers, Thankful N' Thoughtful. Besides the Sly Stone title track, standouts include a gritty New Orleans blues run through Tom Waits's "Yesterday Is Here," a tough ramble into Neil Young's "Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere," and two versions of Ewan MacColl's "Dirty Old Town" rewritten to reflect her native Detroit: one nostalgic but bitter, the other languid and full of sadness. $45, 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.5299. —Rick Mason

The Magnetic Fields

First Avenue, Tuesday 11.13

On Love At the Bottom of the Sea, the Magnetic Fields dusted off synthesizers for the first time in a dozen years, returning to the synth-pop sound that carried the band through the 1990s as well as to the band's old label, Merge. Despite numerous side projects, leader Stephin Merritt seems most at home in the quintessential pop haze set adrift by those ABBA-dappled synths, toying with words and trying to crack cosmic jokes. Bottom, for example, kicks off with "God Wants Us to Wait," the narrator suddenly uttering Michele Bachmann inanities when things have progressed to a certain urgency. Next there's "Andrew in Drag," a catchy ditty about the oddly unattainable "only girl I'll ever love." The laughs, puns, and non-sequiturs continue to fly, "mariachi" somehow rhyming with "Liberace," along with comic irritations, infatuations, and gyrations all bathed in synth emanations just clever enough not to be cheesy. 18+, $30, 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Rick Mason

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Minnesota Concert Tickets

Concert Calendar

  • November
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  • Mon
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  • Wed
    26
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