Critics' Picks: Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj, Katy Perry, Kid Cudi, and more

The Reverend comes through the Twin Cities for a two-night stand

The Reverend comes through the Twin Cities for a two-night stand

Reverend John Wilkins

Bayport BBQ on Sunday 7.10; 7th St. Entry on Monday 7.11

As with the work of his father, Robert Wilkins, the sounds of Memphis and the nearby North Mississippi Hill Country are both integral to Reverend John Wilkins's gloriously authentic country blues and gospel. The elder Wilkins, who played the folk circuit after being "rediscovered" in the 1960s, early on wrote secular songs like "That's No Way to Get Along," which after becoming a minister he reworked as "Prodigal Son," covered by the Rolling Stones on Beggars Banquet and son John on his full-length debut, You Can't Hurry God. The younger Wilkins played guitar on O.V. Wright's huge 1965 crossover hit "You're Gonna Make Me Cry," but turned to the ministry himself and now presides at a church in Como, Mississippi. Wilkins's vocals drip with pure soul on YCHG, his picking and slide work are revelatory, and an intrepid band kicks through scintillating arrangements that reflect both rural Mississippi and Memphis's Hi Records. Wilkins and a band will play two local gigs: Sunday at Bayport BBQ, the burgeoning juke joint on the St. Croix ($20; 8 p.m.; 328 Fifth Ave. N., Bayport; 651.955.6337) and Monday at the 7th St. Entry with Poverty Hash (18+; $8/$10 at the door; 8 p.m.; 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775). —Rick Mason

Britney Spears and Nicki Minaj

Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday 7.6

So they're a duo of sorts now, albeit an unlikely one: carnal producers' canvas Britney Spears and extraterrestrial freakshow femcee Nicki Minaj. Pop has seen stranger bedfellows than this, but the thought of a combined spectacle dedicated to Spears's waning tabloid sleaze, Minaj's still-fresh schizo rhymes, and some weird hybrid of the two is almost too much to bear, a cornucopia of pulsating, irradiated puke. Think about it too hard and it winds up as a Saturday Night Live-esque exercise is one-upswomanship. What the two have in common, besides this tour: that caustic "Til The World Ends" remix, a subconscious jealousy of Lady Gaga, and a deep, almost aggressive sexlessness that's at odds with a large part of what's supposed to make them marketable. Celebrity's a complicated thing. All ages. $49.50-$149.50. 7 p.m. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.726.8240. —Ray Cummings

Basilica Block Party

Basilica of St. Mary on Friday 7.8 and Saturday 7.9

Once a year, the Basilica of Saint Mary opens its hallowed grounds to host one of the biggest outdoor rock 'n' roll parties in Minneapolis, as the Basilica Block Party brings in great bands and good times for both young and old alike. This year's lineup, while a bit less edgy than in years past, still has plenty of big names that are sure to draw in a capacity crowd over the course of the two-night event. David Gray, the Jayhawks, Lissie, and Fitz and the Tantrums are among the bands playing Friday night, while Ray LaMontagne, Amos Lee, Gomez, and Drive By Truckers will rock Saturday night, along with plenty of other celebrated national and local acts spread over both evenings. What continues to be a beneficial fundraising event to help restore the Basilica and extend the church's charitable outreach has also become a celebration of good music and (typically) great weather, all set against the backdrop of downtown Minneapolis under the striking summer sky. All ages. $40-$80. 5 p.m. 88 17th St. N., Minneapolis; 612.317.3511. —Erik Thompson

Katy Perry

Xcel Energy Center on Saturday 7.9

Of all Madonna's children, Katy Perry is the fastest addiction: The first artist to not leave the Top 10 for a full year, she's all stadium-bright hooks with a disco bounce like United State of Electronica on a Pentagon budget. She's also the hardest crash: "Firework" is at once industrial-strength and appalling, so outsized in its hyped-up soupiness and sledgehammer vocals that its stupid lyrics are spine-tingling. Live, her movie-star expressions make her seem like she's in on whatever joke you take her for, and she prices tickets with the wisdom that pop is for the quick, not just the rich. All ages. $25-$47. 7:30 p.m. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.726.8240. —Peter S. Scholtes

Toots & the Maytals

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater on Saturday 7.9

The original Maytals, who had a central role in the formative stages of reggae, are ancient history. But Toots Hibbert and his marvelous voice are still thriving, still negotiating the exquisite turf where piquant Jamaica meets Memphis soul, gospel, and R&B. As sweet as fine molasses but with a fiery, complex, textured bite, Hibbert's singing irrefutably proved reggae got soul decades ago. Leading the latest version of the Maytals on last year's Flip and Twist, Hibbert continues to smartly stray from reggae orthodoxy, flirting with disco, hip hop, funk, and blues, covering Stevie Wonder and Gamble and Huff. But the earthy grandeur of Hibbert's pipes ensures everything stays grounded, the hooks are always alluring, and reggae's primal hitch is never far off. With Natty Nation. All ages. $38. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason

Rosie Ledet & the Zydeco Playboys

Wilebski's Blues Saloon on Saturday 7.9

Not only does Rosie Ledet stand out as a rare female zydeco bandleader and wielder of the genre's signature accordion, she's also one of its finest contemporary songwriters and best singers. Ledet's voice would be exceptional in any context, its smokey timbre working nuances particularly applicable to the blues, where she could more than hold her own in the company of Bonnie Raitt or Marcia Ball. She has a nice way with ballads. But things get really steamy when she cranks up her squeezebox, her band weighs in, and she dives into one of her wicked double-entendre workouts like "You Can Eat My Poussière" or sizzles through a cover of Labelle's "Lady Marmalade." $10. 7:30 p.m. 1638 Rice St., St. Paul; 651.331.0929. —Rick Mason

Little Feat

Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater on Sunday 7.10

Any band around 40-plus years like Little Feat has endured its share of upheaval. The death of co-founder and lead singer Lowell George in 1979 resulted in the Feat's temporary demise. With the death, due to liver cancer, last August of founding drummer Richie Hayward, the band lost the incomparable instigator of its signature maelstrom of rhythm intrigues. But Little Feat, renowned as a ferocious live band, sails on, fueled by its potent, always intoxicating Southern comforting mash of swamp rock, blues, country, boogie, rockabilly, and R&B. The band still sports longtime members Bill Payne, Paul Barrere, Kenny Gradney, Sam Clayton, and Fred Tackett, with Gabe Ford taking over on drums. All ages. $33. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason


Cedar Cultural Center on Monday 7.11

The Peruvian band Novalima create a compelling fusion of traditional Afro-Peruvian music (the vital sound of an often neglected minority), other Peruvian folkloric elements, contemporary electronica, and additional technical wizardry. Judicious juggling of the programming ensures that the roots prevail, resulting in a sinuous array of dozens of rhythms bubbling to the surface throughout Novalima's third album, Coba Coba, stretching from old Creole waltzes to soca to cutting-edge club grooves. Numerous guests expand the core Novalima nonet, contributing horns, raps, more percussion, and vocals to complement Milagros Guerrero's sultry leads. The result is a teeming cauldron of irresistible past and future sounds. Opening will be Peña, the more traditional, also fascinating Afro-Peruvian band based in the Twin Cities. All ages. $18/$20 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

Kid Cudi

Target Center on Tuesday 7.12

Ohio-Brooklyn sing-rapper Kid Cudi might be the artiest hip-hop figure yet to headline the Target Center, having gone from the solitary-space-station-jogger hypnosis of his Drake-like 2008 smash "Day 'N' Nite" (which began life as a 2007 mixtape track) to recording depresso trip-hop as striking as last year's "The End," which featured fellow Clevelander and opener for this tour, Chip Tha Ripper. Live, he brings a good band. All ages. $39.50-$49.50. 7:30 p.m. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.673.0900. —Peter S. Scholtes