Best New Bands, the Killers, Adele, and more

The Killers ponder: "Are we human, or are we dancers?"

The Killers ponder: "Are we human, or are we dancers?"


Best New Bands of 2008

First Avenue

Reliable entertainment whether or not bands survive long enough to provide "I was there" stories, First Avenue's annual best-new-local-music showcase looks especially promising this time around. The namesake singer of Caroline Smith and the Good Night Sleeps is another remarkable quavering voice in local acoustic freak-folk and pop, but one with especially accessible songs. Lookbook do down-tempo indie-electro, but with a similarly stringing female singer. Kristoff Krane is an art rapper with his own distinct melodic sense. Bouncer Fighter have loads of sophisticated tunes beneath head-clearing amounts of keyboard and guitar noise. And the Dynamiters will be recognizable from a half-dozen other acclaimed local alt bands. 18+. $7. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N, Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Peter S. Scholtes



The Battle Royale

7th St. Entry

The Battle Royale sound like a shifting who's who of indie-pop groups, and that's just fine. Think backslide-y riffs a la Built to Spill, sliding into Shins-like echoey vocals, shifting into Ryan Adams countrified twang, and wait, there's totally some synth-y Timberlake thrown in there, and harmonica! This all tumbles together with the soaring, if less self-reverent, positivity exuded by bands like Arcade Fire and the New Pornographers, and the nursery-rhyme innocence and hug-ability of Mates of State. Is enthusiasm the new black? It might be, and that's also fine. These guys really want to be there, and it rubs off. We need you, Battle Royale, and thank you. With somewhere-in-Wisconsin's the Trapper Schoepp Band and Afternoon Records labelmates-slash-Wilco dead-ringers the Wars of 1812. 18+. $6. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jessica Chapman FRIDAY 1.16.

Franz Nicolay

Triple Rock Social Club

Chances are, you know of Franz Nicolay, the dapper Brooklyn gypsy punk frequently found pop-eyed and hitting high notes behind the Hold Steady's keyboard, but you probably thought all he did in his downtime was wax that much-discussed mustache. Turns out the work of a full-time Renaissance man is never finished, what with stints as a multi-instrumentalist for several apocalyptic-cabaret orchestral outfits (the World/Inferno Friendship Society, Guignol) and as founder and fellow chamber composer for hire of the nonprofit Anti-Social Music collective. Somewhere in there, Nicolay managed to record a solo album; titled Major General, it successfully combines his fetishes for polished fist-pumping rock and revivalist theatrics, and it will be showcased in what we hope will be the most raucous manner possible at the Triple Rock this Friday. The tough broads and boys behind the '60s sock-hop sounds of the God Damn Doo Wop Band join. 21+. $10. 9 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Haily Gostas



A Benefit for Chad Weis

First Avenue

It wouldn't be entirely absurd to expect a few unannounced guests to show up at First Avenue's Benefit for Chad Weis, especially given the ridiculous list of talented musicians he's worked with during his career. The current lineup of announced guests includes Mason Jennings, Cloud Cult, Trampled by Turtles, Haley Bonar, and the Pines, but the list of artists Weis has worked with as a producer, engineer, and manager reaches as far as Ben Kweller and as close to home as Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps. Weis underwent emergency surgery two months back, removing a rare fungal mass that had broken down both his nasal bones and those protecting his brain. As Weis's health insurance is only covering a tenth of the bill, Mason Jennings has made the plea, "Let's help get Chad back up and running! Please come join us for a wonderful night filled with music, love, and hope." Even putting the necessity and humanity of the night's focus aside, the lineup is brilliant enough to guarantee that no one in attendance will leave dissatisfied. 18+. $15/$20 at the door. 5:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Chris DeLine

Charlie Parr

Lee's Liquor Lounge

Duluth-based country-blues musician Charlie Parr returns to Minneapolis, playing Lee's Liquor Lounge this Saturday night. The one-off show comes in preparation for his forthcoming tour of the U.K. and Ireland this spring. His efforts overseas will be in support of Roustabout, his most recent album, which will see international release next month. Unleashed in November, the album was recorded on location in "living rooms, garages, barroom basements, and empty storefronts," a modern-day field recording if there ever was one. A self-taught guitarist, Parr has been deconstructing the genre since he called Minneapolis's West Bank home in the mid-'80s. A prime example of his interest in finding the gray areas of music can be heard in his collaborative efforts in Devil's Flying Machine, a band that combines a jazz percussionist and a DJ in creating a hybrid of sound drunk with back-country swagger. For Saturday's show Parr will be joined by the "Hard drinkin' fast pickin' fingerlickin' bluegrass" sextet the Johnson Family Band. 21+. $6. 9 p.m. 101 Glenwood Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.9491. —Chris Deline



The Killers

Northrop Auditorium

Nevada's Killers aspire to be your '80s everything, baby—your U2, your Cars, and your New Order rolled into one shiny, fist-pumping, post-millennial package. They want your complete worship, your undivided adoration, your perpetual patronage. The band has the synthesizer chutzpah and guitar-hook chops to pull it off, but Brandon Flowers—despite his sugar-rush quiver of a voice and "Mr. Brightside" notwithstanding—lacks a lyrical, er, killer instinct. There's no shame in bringing in a little hired help to transform your gaggle of fashion-on-the-edge misfits into a sleek, lethal, unit-shifting machine; it happens all the time. The Matrix helped Liz Phair go pop, Dyke Van Parks put poetic platitudes in Brian Wilson's mouth and Smile was the result, producer Matt Serletic had a bit more than a hand in Matchbox Twenty's last couple of hits. Day & Age is quite a bit of arena-primed fun, but come on, Brandon. "Are we human/Or are we dancers"? Are you for real, dude? If you really expect us to be waiting with bated breath for the presidential term between your All That You Can't Leave Behind and your How to Dismantle an Atom Bomb, you've gotta do better than that. With M83. All ages. $46.50-$58.50. 7:30 p.m. 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.624.2345. —Ray Cummings




Fitzgerald Theater

It's tempting to call Adele Adkins this year's Amy Winehouse. After all, a serious buzz has blossomed into genuine phenom status with last summer's release of Adele's debut, 19. Four Grammy nominations in heavyweight categories (Record of the Year, Song of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Female Pop Vocal Performance) have followed. Both Adele and Winehouse are from the U.K., both have over-the-top voices, both tap a certain retro vibe. But Adele—still only 20—sets herself apart with an apparently fully formed versatility that fuses those retro threads of soul, R&B, folk, and Britpop with a contemporary sensibility. Plus, she's already an impressive writer, filling 19 with a teenager's love obsessions, but with insight beyond her years and punctuated by stylish lines. Her musical arrangements are even more enthralling. And her voice can not only match Winehouse's in sassy power but also casually toss off a seemingly endless array of emotion-laden nuances and textures ranging from squeaks and sultry purrs to stormy, broad brushstrokes. Opening will be another impressive neo-soul U.K. singer: Cornwall native James Morrison stirs a lot of blues and R&B into the strong originals on his second album, Songs for You, Truths for Me. Morrison's raspy voice suggests a finer version of Rod Stewart's, and he can rock out like the former Face, too, especially on the current single, "Nothing Ever Hurt Like You." All ages. $20. 7:30 p.m. 10 E Exchange St., St. Paul; 651.290.1220. —Rick Mason