Art-A-Whirl, Henry Rollins, and more: Critics' Picks

Theatrical hard-rockers Coheed & Cambria
Davey Wilson


The Knitters

400 Bar

An offshoot of the arty L.A. punk band X, the Knitters have put out two albums in a quarter-century. The first, Poor Little Critter on the Road, came out in 1985, when the concept of a rock band—and punkers no less—going full-bore country was a genuine novelty. As such, the Knitters (and a few other bands, like the Mekons) were way out ahead of the alt-country movement, which was in full swing by the time the Knitters released The Modern Sound of the Knitters in 2005. A similar shtick reigns on both: Ex-spouses John Doe and Exene Cervenka do their best to emulate George Jones and Tammy Wynette, Dave Alvin from the Blasters adds a certain rockabilly strum und twang, the originals have a dusty authenticity, and covers of the likes of Merle Haggard and brothers Delmore and Stanley are sincere and often glowing, while drummer D.J. Bonebrake and bassist Jonny Ray Bartel toss a little thrash into their country gallops. Considering the jumble of roots at X's core, the Knitters were never all that much of a stretch. The multiple dynamics at work in their music remain eminently worth hearing. 18+. $17/$20 at the door. 9 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. —Rick Mason


Coheed & Cambria

First Avenue

It's true that Coheed & Cambria have toured with groups like Slipknot and Linkin Park, but don't hold that against them. While they often get lumped in with more popular acts on the darker end of the mall-rock spectrum, their big riffs are balanced with aspirations that are loftier than those of their peers. The members of C&C obviously worship at the altar of Rush, animating their songs with knotty progressive touches and an overarching narrative that ties all of their albums together. But all of the technical knowhow and conceptual daring wouldn't mean a thing if the band was boring to watch, and luckily, that's not the case. Leader Claudio Sanchez is a powerhouse, pulling off vocal theatrics and guitar heroism through a mass of sight-obscuring hair, while drummer Chris Pennie manages the band's tricky time changes after earning his stripes as a founder of Dillinger Escape Plan. Blending imagination, talent, and sonic brawn, C&C are worth a closer look. With Circa Survive and Torche. All ages. $25/$27.50 at the door. 5 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas


Henry Rollins

Pantages Theatre

To Henry Rollins, the term "spoken word" is pretentious; he just gets up on stage and talks. If that seems uneventful, consider that Rollins is a punk icon, activist, author, and actor who has been travelling the world for decades, collecting life experiences and molding them into engaging material for his one-man tours. You could call him a dilettante, but his wealth of job titles suggests that the man is an entertainer, pure and simple—a commanding presence full of ink, muscle, and charisma. While Rollins may have mellowed slightly in comparison to his younger, more desperate days, he maintains a level of coiled-spring intensity that other storytellers wish they had; he's able to flip between jokes and deadly serious subject matter with a combination of finesse and verbal dynamism that feels completely natural. Now he's 49 with graying hair, but you could never mistake Hank for your grandfather, because, really, your grandfather's stories were never this interesting. All ages. 8 p.m. $26.50. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.373.5600. —Ian Traas

Rebirth Brass Band and Jack Brass Band


New Orleans's funkified brass-band sound will get addressed from both ends of the Mississippi on this latest Louisiana-Minnesota horn summit. The Crescent City's Rebirth was, along with the Dirty Dozen, at the forefront of the street-corner players who revolutionized the NOLA brass-band tradition in the early 1980s by injecting copious doses of jazz and funk, and ratcheting up the tempos to sometimes breakneck speed. Rebirth co-founder Kermit Ruffins left for a solo career long ago, but brothers Philip and Keith Frazier still lead a blazing krewe through New Orleans standards and lots more. This spring the Rebirth have been featured in the HBO series Treme, based on their home turf. The Twin Cities' Jack Brass Band isn't quite as venerable as Rebirth but has been around for a decade. The Jack's musicianship is top-notch, and they've done a nice job juggling standards and sympathetic new compositions. Last year's Fourth Movement suggests a little northern coolness in the sleek arrangements as the bristling nine-piece hi-Jacks soul and R&B nuggets from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Rick James, and Prince, hauls them downriver, and gives them prime second-line treatment. Most significantly, the Jack have gotten plenty of respect down yonder, garnering positive reviews of their performances and recordings. 18+. $14/$17 at the door. 8:30 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Rick Mason


Benefit for Tattoo Bob


Memory Lanes/Turf Club

Bob Flom: You may know him as Tattoo Bob. He's slung you drinks at the Uptown, Hex, Donnie Dirk's, and Nick & Eddie. What you may not know about Bob is that he employed his spitfire personality to conquer multiple myeloma, a cancer of the white blood cells, a couple of years ago, only for that crap to come back. This, of course, makes those of us who think Bob's the bee's knees real mad. What to do? Bob likely doesn't want your doe-eyed sympathy—he's Tattoo Bob!—but his friends have organized two benefit shows. On Saturday at Memory Lanes, Buildings, Telepathos, and the Blood Shot will dole out varieties of grungy, shoegazey psych-metal rock. On Sunday at the Turf, expect something entirely different: a hootenanny-style lineup featuring G-Biz, Trim Reaper, Sharp Teeth, Brian Herb Band, the Hostages, Hastings 3000, and more. 21+. $5-$10 suggested donation at each. 9 p.m. 2520 26th Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.721.6211 and 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. Also Sunday —Nikki Miller

Art-a-Whirl at the 331

331 Club

This all-day local music extravaganza should not be missed. The vord Mules' Pigpen-filthy, whiskey-splattered blues-rock is a thing of absolute beauty live, where it sounds even more dangerous and unpredictable. Halloween, Alaska have slowly become this city's authority on epic dream-pop, but theirs has razor-sharp claws and lyrics that make you want to do more with yourself than you're doing, no matter what it may be that you do. And no band has made more noise (both literally and figuratively) in the past 12 months than Red Pens. The boy-on-guitar/girl-on-drums thing seemed to have been done to death, but it's never been like this. They're amazingly loud (like a shop class held on an airport runway) but they are a pop band at heart, and the songs are structured as such (read: you'll find yourself dancing a bit as your teeth rattle around inside your skull). And then there's the rest of the lineup: Chris Koza, the Dynamiters, Zoo Animal, Minneapolis Dub Ensemble, the Alpha Centauri, the Roe Family Singers, and Man Is Doomed. None of these bands really has much left to prove, but they don't know that yet and it's to everyone's advantage. Noon. Free. 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.331.1746. —Pat O'Brien


Stick Men

The Cedar 

If you don't scour YouTube for mid-'80s King Crimson vids, or read guitar magazines, you'd be forgiven for not knowing about the Chapman Stick. The Stick, revered for nearly 40 years in string-bending cognoscenti circles, consists of a wide guitar-like fret board tapped with two hands. The hands are able to roam free of each other, allowing for a wide range of rhythm, embellishment, and harmony. King Crimson's Tony Levin and session man/instructor Michael Bernier have been longtime boosters of the Stick, reveling in the instrument's unconventional sonic toolbox. Performing as Stick Men (with Crimson percussionist Pat Mastelotto), they lay out a technically stunning, cheerfully indulgent program on their latest, Soup. There're some charming nods to prog's wooly past (Stravinsky's "Firebird," anyone?) and some channeling of Crimson bandmate Adrian Belew's word-association vocalizing on the title cut, but there are also bracing instrumentals to tempt the open-minded, like the undulating, plaintive "Inside the Red Pyramid" and the busy, crushing "Relentless." All ages. $25/$28 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Cecile Cloutier

Christian McBride and Inside Straight

Dakota Jazz Club

Even before ending his brief stay at Juilliard to join Roy Hargrove's band, Christian McBride was an in-demand bassist, playing dozens of sessions as well as being a member of Bobby Watson's band. Two decades later, McBride is universally acknowledged as one of the great bassists of our time. He's also a bandleader, a versatile session player with contributions stretching from Chick Corea to Natalie Cole to Sting, a composer, an arranger, a jazz educator, a radio host, and an activist on multiple fronts. McBride's current quintet, Inside Straight, was assembled for a date at New York's Village Vanguard in 2007. In contrast to some electric McBride projects in recent years that ventured into funk, hip hop, and fusion, Inside Straight is an all-acoustic, essentially straight-ahead outfit that blithely references jazz tradition while moving forward via melodically charged tunes. On board are revered pianist Eric Reed, drummer Carl Allen, saxophonist Steve Wilson, and young vibes up-and-comer Warren Wolf Jr. On last summer's Kind of Brown, McBride's glorious wooden tone and imaginative runs anchor a sound that slyly incorporates elements of the blues, gospel, swing, and bop. There's a bright, lively romp through Freddie Hubbard's "Theme for Kareem," with Wilson particularly shining on alto, in tribute to the late trumpeter, and a scintillating new version of "Shade of the Cedar Tree," which McBride wrote with pianist Cedar Walton in mind. The album concludes with a lovely duo take on the standard ballad "Where Are You?" with Reed's delicate piano and McBride's elegant bowing engaged in a languid dance. $30 at 7 p.m.; $20 at 9:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. Also Monday —Rick Mason


Local Natives/Suckers


400 Bar

Gorilla Manor, the ambitious debut album from the Los Angeles quintet Local Natives, is in one sense a pastiche of prevailing indie-pop elements, each song characterized by complex arrangements that ebb and flow, shift directions and rhythms, and invoke often impressionistic lyrics that flirt with deeper meaning. Quick contemporary comparisons suggest Grizzly Bear (massed vocals), Los Campesinos! (group ethos), My Morning Jacket (guitar figures), and Animal Collective (polyrhythmic pulse). But Local Natives manage to establish their own identity by putting it all together in consistently interesting ways. The three-part harmonies, for instance, vary from ragged shouting to soaring falsetto cloudbursts to swirling call-and-response chattering to stuff just short of classical choral. And that can be in a single song: "Sun Hands," for instance, is an appropriately catchy dose of sunny spirit that also sports a neat psychedelic guitar rave. Despite splinters of juju guitar and the odd reggae beat, it would be a stretch to attribute full-blown Afrobeat or other global influences to the band. But these guys like to stretch things, and Local Natives' restlessness makes compelling music. Brooklyn-based label mates Suckers, meanwhile, have their own unbridled pop ambitions. The quartet's forthcoming full-length debut, Wild Smile, is equally dense with grand, euphoric pop whose lush arrangements often suggest the touch of a postmodern Brian Wilson. At the same time, these Suckers are not averse to middling, inebriated sing-alongs like "It Gets Your Body Movin'," perfect for audience-band bonding amid fractured whistlers' choruses and intimations that ambulatory ambitions might prove problematic. 18+. $8/$10 at the door. 8 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. —Rick Mason

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400 Cedar Ave. S.
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