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Critics' Picks: Big Trouble and more

The Ying Yang Twins in an ATL Community Players production of Rashomon

THURSDAY 3.06

Big Trouble

Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater

To celebrate the release of their cleverly titled EP, Crescent Moon Is in Big Trouble, the local all-star group of Twin Cities musical staples Big Trouble bowls through Bryant-Lake on Thursday, giving anyone who likes music a chance to satisfy her craving for it. Too broad for you? Sorry, but it's hard not to recommend Big Trouble to anyone at all, what with members deriving from TC staples such as Heiruspecs, Martin Devaney, and Joanna James, with enticing guests always a possibility, and with a musical vocabulary that runs the gamut of shit you're likely to hear on the Current (and that's mostly a compliment). As an extra tasty icing on this four-layer cake, MC Crescent Moon lends his formidable vocal presence to the release and show. Let's review then: a group of maestros with an eclectic and far-reaching repertoire? Check. A killer on the mic? Check. Smiles on the faces of everyone from hippie-dippies and hipsters to backpackers and knapsackers, all uniting in harmony under the banner of good music? Check please, I'm there. $9. 9:30 p.m. 810 W. Lake St.; Minneapolis; 612.825.3737. —Jordan Selbo

Big Head Todd & the Monsters

First Avenue

Big Head Todd & the Monsters keep company with Crash Test Dummies and Blind Melon as the deposed monarchs of the non-confrontational, melodic pop that kept the mid-'90s in a powerful sleeper hold. Sure, some of the fans that made Sister Sweetly a platinum seller in 1993 have long since tapped out, but, like Chris Benoit, Big Head Todd doesn't let go just because you go limp. You might have been unconscious for it, but the Monsters have spent the last decade keeping up the rigorous touring regimen that first earned them a cult following in the late '80s, keeping their tirelessly devoted fans happy with a brand of blues rock that borrows a cup of salt from the jazzman down the hall. So what if Sister Sweetly is best known in the 21st century for its saturation of Cheapo's "Recent Arrivals" racks? At least it sold once. With Paul Kelley. 18+. $23/$25 at the door. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —David Hansen

FRIDAY 3.07

Consolation Champ CD-release show

400 Bar

Modesty has always been a cornerstone of acoustic folk music, but these local folkies definitely undersell themselves in their band name. Far from musical also-rans, Consolation Champ have an everyman earnestness that is at once endearing and challenging. Theirs is a free-range sound that can take them from simple, sincere claw-hammer folk to an impassioned, detuned strum that evokes Jeff Magnum at his most plaintive. As Magnum proved, a sour note here and there never hurt anyone, and Consolation Champ's songs are often strengthened by running sharp. Lobos Pattern, their forthcoming new CD, drops tonight at the 400 Bar right before a month-and-a-half-long tour to the Mojave, a place where many a life lesson has been taught by many a spectral half-nude Indian. Here's hoping Consolation Champ leave their "aw shucks" humility in the desert. Hey, it worked for Jim Morrison. With the Builders and the Butchers.18+. $5/$8 at the door. 8 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. —David Hansen

SATURDAY 3.08

Gutter Twins

First Avenue

Greg Dulli, of Afghan Whigs fame, seems to be in a nostalgic mood lately. Last year, his old band was the subject of a retrospective, and to mark the occasion, the Whigs reconvened to record two new tracks for inclusion on the album. This year, Dulli has returned to the label that launched his former band's career, rejoining the Sub Pop stable as one half of the Gutter Twins. The group features not one but two '90s alt-rock luminaries, the other being former Screaming Tree and current serial collaborator Mark Lanegan. The duo's debut record, Saturnalia, delivers the dark, smoldering torch songs you would expect, albeit perhaps not in the way you would expect. Guitars are replaced by foreboding string arrangements that prove quite the complement to Dulli and Lanegan's whiskey-soaked, back-alley tales. This is certainly familiar terrain for Dulli, but fortunately, nostalgia and novelty are not mutually exclusive. With Great Northern. 18+. $12/$15 at the door. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jonathan Garrett

Ying Yang Twins

Trocaderos

Don't front—if you really went to a rap show to hear intricate lyrics full of subtle metaphor and internal rhyme structures, you'd bring your headphones and crash in the corner. For the rest of us, dropping 25 duckets for the live version is a chance to reenact some sweaty bedroom gyrations and get funky in public (although it's usually dark in da club, mercifully); if you're real lucky, you might just get sardined against a dime piece with some class, or at least a decent bump. Swinging over to us from a stop in Wisconsin's frigid wasteland (devoid of all things hip-hoppy), the Ying Yang's "Spring Break Concert" is the ideal venue to work off all that cabin-fever dead-skin build-up. I suspect that in this classy venue, the Twins will be even more raucous than usual, leaving me to do the easy part—chant along to their stupid choruses, twerk to the booty beats, and ice grill every sucker who dares step on my 10-dollar sneakers. With J Kwon, Meech, and Mike Page. 18+. $25. 8 p.m. 107 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.465.0440. —Jordan Selbo

Murzik CD-release show

Kitty Cat Klub

After all of the initial "Oh, these guys sound like—" comparisons end and it's conceded that Murzik don't really sound that much like anything else out there right now, the real enjoyment can begin. Sure, they will forevermore be lumped in with bands in the vein of Gogol Bordello and DeVotchKa, but they aren't nearly as overt as the former or as luminously beautiful as the latter (in a good way). In short, they aren't trying so damn hard to be something, anything. Their sound, which employs a delicate mixture of accordions, bells, and a glockenspiel along with your more "traditional" instruments, is unquestionably the stuff often referred to as "gypsy music," but it's also subdued and minimalist, yet never boring or part of the background din. And there is hardly a more appropriate space in which to celebrate their CD release than the lush, Roarin' '20s-inspired confines of the Kitty Cat Klub, which, coupled with Murzik's music, should make everyone believe that time travel is possible. With James Apollo and Black Audience. 9 p.m. 315 14th Ave. SE; Minneapolis; 612.331.9800. —Pat O'Brien

MONDAY 3.10

Yellowcard

Station 4

Yellowcard, a Florida power-punk quintet aptly named after minor soccer offenses, are the biggest thing to happen to the violin since Henny Youngman, and from the sound of their 2004 chart topper "Ocean Avenue," they get as much mileage out of the instrument as Youngman did. Like Carrot Top at the Luxor, Yellowcard have taken up a seemingly endless residency in the Billboard rock charts alongside fellow MySpace Featured Artists Jimmy Eat World. Though their squeaky-clean profile might make their anthems of the disenfranchised a bit hard to swallow, the rest of them goes down like a capful of Pepto Bismol. Yellowcard distort their guitars the way Diesel distresses their jeans, and with the furious fiddling EQ'ed into a piercing chirp, Yellowcard are here to take some starch out of Stradivarius's death shroud. In soccer, two yellow cards gets you ejected, so one can forgive them for not rocking too terribly hard. With the Spill Canvas, Play Radio Play, Treaty of Paris. All Ages. $18. 5 p.m. 201 E. Fourth St. St. Paul; 651.298.0173. —David Hansen

TUESDAY 3.11

A Fine Frenzy

Varsity Theater

Alison Sudol, more commonly known as A Fine Frenzy, has a knack for writing the kind of sweeping, piano-driven pop epics that would fit so well playing over the climax scene of a Hollywood dramedy—you know the scene: someone getting their comeuppance or triumphing over adversity of some sort. And while movie scenes like that are so common we hardly notice them anymore, one of A Fine Frenzy's songs would bring said scene up a notch or two, certainly. Sudol takes much inspiration from, and makes sideways references to, literary giants such as C.S. Lewis and E.B. White, showing she isn't just another pretty face with a piano in tow trying to take Tori Amos's quickly tarnishing crown away. The dreamlike lyrics are threaded together in odd, surprising ways and take such unexpected turns that it's impossible not to be reminded of the fuzzy, off-kilter thoughts that drift through our own heads during slumber. The difference is that Sudol has conjured the bravery to tell the world about hers. 18+. $12/$14 at the door. 7 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Pat O'Brien


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