Critics Picks: Bruce Springsteen and more

Faux redux
Matt Porath



Varsity Theater

Sherwood issue no apologies for their pop-chart aspirations, which is good, because mass appeal means never having to say you're sorry. Diligently filling their major-label supply list, these SoCal natives bring the requisite synth strings and glittering guitar hooks to the power-pop pantheon, adding just enough navel contemplation to make your younger sister swoon. It might take a trained ear and an eagle eye to tell Sherwood's Nate Henry from, say, Yellowcard's Ryan Key. But bust out your jeweler's lens, and it's obvious that Sherwood are the most melodic act yet to be green-lighted for mass production on MySpace Records. With three years of tireless touring and the hardest working autofriender on Facebook, Sherwood have the business savvy and musical sophistication to ensure more daily profile views than any band that ever performed by the light of a thousand raised cell-phones. With Houston Calls, the Higher, and We Shot the Moon. All ages. $12/$14 at the door. 5 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —David Hansen


Thao Nguyen

Triple Rock Social Club

There's a freewheeling, can't-stop-won't-stop joy to Thao Nguyen's brand of indie pop that makes We Brave Bee Stings and All—the Washington's new album, with backing band the Get Down Stay Down—one of 2008's most addictive debuts thus far. Word-drunk, lyrically incontinent, and handy with a hypersonic hook, Nguyen riffles through musical styles like Quentin Tarantino tries on grindhouse rags. She's got her C&W in your bossa nova, her power-pop in your trad Hawaiian fare. Blues, big band, and straight-up rock play into the equation as well. Yet Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down's most significant achievement might be their willingness keep the proceedings so quick, sweet, and dirty that they leave you wanting more: Their 11-song album clocks in at around half an hour, no minor feat in a music marketplace where singles and ringtones threaten to dominate. In their canny view, even the most rousing, relentless choruses deserve to be repeated only once—if that. Thao Nguyen opens for Xiu Xiu. All ages. $10/$12 at the door. 5 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Ray Cummings

Faux Jean original lineup reunion

Uptown Bar

All skinny ties and tailored trousers, Faux Jean are perpetually prepared for any photo op they may come across on their way from the Triple Rock to the Turf Club. How those English accents found their way to the Gopher State is anyone's guess, but a minor Anglo affectation hasn't kept the six-piece from being one of the most infectious local bands ever to spell color with a "u." With a pop sensibility well-informed by the chrome and suede days of Warhol's factory and London's swinging '60s, Matty Schneider's snotty croon and Al Weier's detuned heroin strum give us a good idea of how Lou Reed and John Cale might have looked in Versace. No need to fret if you forgot to roll out the red carpet for tonight's show at the Uptown—in all likelihood, Faux Jean brought their own. $7. 9 p.m. 3018 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.823.4719. Also Saturday at the Turf Club, 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —David Hansen


Big V's

Method of Destruction? More like Midway of Destruction. Thrash metal legends M.O.D. are set to destroy the heart of St. Paul's Midway at the intimately dirty Big V's tonight. There may be no better way to slough off the last vestiges of this brutal winter than by mixing sweat, spit, and booze with some hardcore punks. Also on the bill are locals In Defense—if you want to know what to expect from them, check out their video of a performance/hostile takeover at a Taco John's in Eau Claire. "Fierce" doesn't even begin to describe this lineup. Expect shredding guitars, shredded jeans, sleeveless jean-jackets, and enough metal studs to make an airport security person's head explode. With Daigoro and Kill Mosh Fuck Destroy. $10. 9 p.m. 1567 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.645.8472. —John Henry


Lost in Prague CD-release show

Triple Rock Social Club

Remember a few years back when Deftones lead singer Chino Moreno decided he needed to try to garner more credibility with critics and teamed up with former Helium frontwoman Mary Timony for the godawful Team Sleep project? Well, don't expect hardcore/metal hybrid Lost in Prague to take a walk down that path anytime soon. That's not to say LIP are short on "credibility." Their music seems somehow even darker and more foreboding than their contemporaries', which could owe to the oppressive winters we suffer through here. While it isn't necessarily the most original genre to try to make a go of (there seem to be approximately 133,000 nu-metal bands releasing albums during any given week), Lost in Prague seem like they could have a better shot than most. They don't pound their potential audience over the head with what, from other bands, often proves to be too much riffage for one person to handle. With Throw the Fight, 2 Sweet, and Smilin' Liar. All ages. $10. 5 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Pat O'Brien


Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band

Xcel Energy Center

The second leg of Springsteen's Magic tour brings the E Street crew back to St. Paul, still riding high on the album's resurrection of classic Jersey Shore thunder and brimstone. The former billowed up out of Magic's monster hooks and the rolling waves of Clarence Clemons's sax, Max Weinberg's drums, and Roy Bittan's piano. The latter flowed from Springsteen's anguished depiction of black magic rotting the national spirit in song after song on the album, an unsettling, adeptly nuanced portrait of a country adrift with lunatics at the helm. With the election season offering renewed promise for routing the bastards, the fall tour under his belt, and Patti Scialfa back for emotional and vocal support, count on Bruce and the boys to be even more fired up than they were in November. $67-$97. 7:30 p.m. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.726.8240. —Rick Mason


The Raveonettes

First Avenue

Torn between grungy dissonance and sugary pop conceits, the Danish duo of Sune Rose Wagner and Sharin Foo tilted precipitously toward the latter sound on 2005's Pretty in Black, whose bubbly girl-group confections stirred consternation among those expecting more darkness on the edge of Copenhagen. Their new Lust Lust Lust (Vice) is a major correction, with ominous, brooding gusts of troubled beauty dominating. The music is still marbled with pop affectations, but they're leavened with doses of sheer irony, yielding an unsettling, hallucinatory quality. The opening track, "Aly, Walk with Me," is laced with acid-edged noire guitar lines that slice across a melodramatic hip-hop pulse before erupting in clouds of noisy anguish. Pop giddiness reaches a peak on the catchy but still haunting "You Want the Candy." But all the threads of surf guitar and Ronettes vocals teasingly strewn throughout the album only snipe at its grim, dominant image of love doomed from its first lustful ache. $15. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason


Bon Jovi

Xcel Energy Center

When you set your personal best on that YMCA Stairmaster, Bon Jovi was there. When you made the half-mile drive home from Grumpy's Northeast with a belly full of rail whiskey, Bon Jovi was there. And when you finally stormed out of your deadbeat boyfriend's apartment and into your Ford Taurus resolutely clutching an armful of books and underwear, Bon Jovi was there. "Living on a Prayer." "Bed of Roses." "Blaze of Glory." These are battle hymns of the modern age, and they have survived every breakup, blacked-out karaoke performance, and shower sing-along you've thrown at them. Though the enthusiasm with which you once bellowed the chorus to "Wanted Dead or Alive" may feel foolish now that you're all grown up, remember this when you look back upon your life—the times when you saw only one set of footprints in the sand, it was then that Bon Jovi carried you. $49.50-$131.50. 7:30 p.m. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.726.8240. Also Wednesday, March 19 —David Hansen

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