Critics' Picks: Foo Fighters and more

Black Lipsalicious
Daniel Arnold


Foo Fighters

Target Center

Despite missing out on the prime prizes, the Foos were in great form at the Grammys, picking up awards for best rock album and hard rock performance (amid five nominations) and performing with an orchestra conducted by Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones. They quickly resumed touring behind last fall's Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace (RCA), which spawned the nominations and displays in full bloom the contrasts of Dave Grohl and company. There's the band's fire-breathing, punk-metal, eager-to-flex-its-muscles aspect, which rises to the fore on tunes like "Erase/Replace," its hooky chorus notwithstanding. Then there's its reflective, even gentle acoustic wing, represented by the folky, fingerpicked instrumental "Ballad of the Beaconsfield Miners." In between are abundant melodic conceits that beckon alluringly to listeners, as well as tunes that encompass both facets, such as "The Pretender," with its chamber quartet asides and incendiary core, and the breezy "Summer's End," with its gathering thunderheads of grungy guitar amidst sweet cherry wine. The way the Foos work their split personality yields their most interesting stuff. With Serj Tankian and Against Me! $45. 7:30 p.m. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.673.0900. —Rick Mason


Black Lips

7th St. Entry

The Black Lips have a way of catching you off guard, even though you've seen and heard most of it before. They look like run-of-the-mill hipsters with the skinny jeans, unkempt hair, and occasional ironic mustache (seen it). The music sounds like 1967 San Francisco (heard it). But unlike most other bands in this vein, their take sounds authentic, as if their records have been lost in the back of some long-forgotten corner of a warehouse for the last 40 years. But this is where they catch you looking at the third strike: Even the mighty Brian Jonestown Massacre sometimes gets sidetracked by musical stylings that came after the music they mostly peddle (bits of early-'70s arena rock seep into their brand of '60s psychedelia), but the Black Lips seem to have never, ever even once paid attention to anything that was released before 1963 or after 1970. Their stunning, 99 3/4 percent pureness is unrivaled in any genre and is something to marvel at, to be sure. $13/$14 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Pat O'Brien

The Hives

First Avenue

There was a time not too long ago when Howlin' Pelle's absurd boasts and puffery might have been mistaken for fact. In 2001, following the success of singles "Main Offender" and "Hate to Say I Told You So" and rumors of a hugely lucrative record deal, the Hives looked poised to become the commercial juggernaut of the so-called garage rock revival. Instead, the White Stripes stole the crown. While the Hives of 2008 may not enjoy the international superstardom of Mr. and Ms. White, they haven't exactly retreated into oblivion, either. (Whatever did happen to the Vines, anyway?) These five Swedes have managed to carve out a nice little niche, trotting across the globe every few years to promote a collection of new songs—essentially thinly veiled rewrites of their earlier hits. Sure, the songs might be showing some signs of wear, but Howlin' Pelle's manic enthusiasm ensures that nobody leaves their shows without a stupidly satisfied grin. The perpetually on-the-verge Donnas open. 18+. $17/$20 at the door. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jonathan Garrett

A Whisper in the Noise CD-release show

Varsity Theater

With haunting orchestral arrangements and compositions as elegant as soap carvings, A Whisper in the Noise's new release, Dry Land, can sound a little overdressed for the tweeters that came stock with your 1991 Dodge Dart. They seem better suited for something more ornate. An eroding Victrola, perhaps? Often sounding like the score to an Edward Gorey book, vocalist and lead songwriter West Thordson's moody string and piano arrangements suggest the desolation and vastness of Victorian moors. Like Catherine Earnshaw before him, Thordson occasionally gets lost in his own meanderings (the children's choir accompanying him on a cover of "The Times They Are a Changing" undermines his otherwise remarkable finesse). But his works always raise the neck hairs, and Dry Land, which drops tonight in the opium-den finery of the Varsity Theater, evokes from its antique, dusty vinyl atmosphere a despair that is chillingly modern and all too near. With Humanboy. 18+. $5/$7 at the door. 7 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —David Hansen


Eclectone Records Fifth Anniversary Party

Varsity Theater

Minneapolis has its own Little Engine That Could in Eclectone Records. Singer-songwriter Martin Devaney's baby touts itself as a co-op and a sort of "anti-record-label record label." Its roster is fairly diverse, but the acts share the same basic goals and ideals: good songs, sharp lyrics, and a general distaste for both the flavor-of-the-month mentality and the corporate machine. What easily could have been operated as a sort of pet project is now a small powerhouse celebrating its five-year anniversary with a roster showcase featuring, among others, the somber, socially conscious alt-country of Dan Israel, explosive Bowie apostles Little Man, country-infected indie rockers Big Ditch Road, local writer Jim Walsh's alter ego the Mad Ripple, and Devaney's brand-spanking new band, the GBV-influenced Crossing Guards. $6/$8 at the door. 8 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Pat O'Brien



Big V's

Kazutaka Nomura is probably not a guy you want to solicit for small-talk or pickup tips. He goes by the stage name PWRFL Power (a handle that inadvertently brings to mind Northeast whimsy-merchants Little Wings, who released an album titled Soft Pow'r last year) and bangs away solo on acoustic guitars while babbling on about self-actualization, pets, girls, and how one is never too old to learn how to play the drums. To the world at large, Nomura's broken-English, man-child folk shtick will register as buffoonery or mental instability; to the K Records faithful and fellow travelers, it might as well be PCP-laced catnip. Actually, if you can embrace or look beyond rhetoric like "Let me teach you how to hold chopsticks/My dad used to beat me up because I was holding them wrong/And I don't wanna beat you up because you're so pretty," his searching, lithe fretwork figures are their own graceful, delicate, callused-fingertips reward. Self-Evident headlines. With Capillary Action and the Yoleus. $6. 9:00 p.m. 1567 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.645.8472. —Ray Cummings


Altas Sound

Triple Rock Social Club

Experiencing Let the Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel, the debut CD from Deerhunter frontman Bradford Cox's Atlas Sound project, is a lot like wandering into a benignly psychedelic Candy Land blizzard or tumbling down an illuminated, kaleidoscopic mineshaft with no bottom. All control is relinquished to Cox's immersive, often outré armada of treated sonics, fluffed vocalisms, and a delightfully overcarbonated atmosphere. Sounds sorta similar to Deerhunter, but on his lonesome, Cox cuts out much of the dance-y pound and ornamental, Jolly Rancher noise that characterized Fluorescent Gray and Cryptograms; in their place is a floaty, almost Eno sense of amazement, as if these deep-soaking songs were as stunned by beauty as listeners can't help but be. "Gone are the days of wine and roses/They just make me nauseous now," he moans over the chugging, cavernous pulse of "Ativan"; in all likelihood, he spoke a few years too soon. With White Rainbow and Valet. $10. 9 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Ray Cummings


Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars

Guthrie Theater

Although the musicians of Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars endured a hell unimaginable to most of us, they now create heavenly music whose fundamental message is the unbeatable troika of peace, love, and understanding. Most of the band's members met in a refugee camp in Guinea, having been forced into exile by a decade-long civil war at home. When peace was restored, the group returned to Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, and were reunited with lead singer and songwriter Reuben Koroma's former band, the Emperors, and together recorded their debut album, Living Like a Refugee (Anti-). Although obviously informed by their horrendous experience, Refugee transcends bitterness, riding a buoyant blend of roots reggae, traditional Sierra Leonean music, and bits of regional Afro-pop such as juju and highlife. Irrepressible joy flows through the Stars' warm, percolating rhythms and effervescent vocals, tied to a uplifting spirit that has made them worldwide ambassadors for peace and reconciliation. $22.50. 7:30 p.m. 818 Second St. S., Minneapolis; 612.377.2224. —Rick Mason

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