Critics' Picks: Foo Fighters, Lindsey Buckingham, Braids, and more

Dave Grohl (left) launches the Foo Fighters' tour in the Twin Cities

Dave Grohl (left) launches the Foo Fighters' tour in the Twin Cities

Foo Fighters

Xcel Energy Center on Wednesday 9.14

Dave Grohl's outsized personality and genuine charm have allowed him to easily escape the vast shadow cast by Nirvana in order to forge his own musical path with Foo Fighters. And while Grohl has become an affable, energetic frontman in his own right since leaving his trusty drum kit behind, the band would always be thought of as an offshoot if their songs weren't so strong. Grohl and his gang of Foos have crafted an impressive back catalog filled with anthemic, affecting numbers that seem to be born for stadium singalongs, and the fact that Grohl appears to be having the time of his life each time he steps onstage injects his rousing songs and spirited performances with a natural exuberance that proves to be impossible for his fans to resist. This stop in St. Paul should only add to the long list of great local shows that Grohl has been a part of over the last 20 years. With Rise Against and Mariachi El Bronx. All ages. $32.50-$52.50. 7 p.m. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.726.8240. —Erik Thompson


7th St. Entry on Thursday 9.15

Just as the coldest, most unbearable part of winter grabbed us all by the throat, Braids' Native Speaker (thankfully) popped up on the radar. Crystalline guitars cascaded everywhere, tiny tropical drums peeked out from the background, and Raphaelle Standell-Preston's surging vocals held the whole thing together. It sounded like a beach party on the moon when snowstorms made it impossible to imagine life outside your little corner of the Arctic, and for that, it deserves special praise. Now that summer's over (shudder) and the cold looms closer, it's high time to be reminded that you can have your own spacy beach blowout any time you want, if you have the right help. With Pepper Rabbit and Painted Palms. 18+. $10. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Ian Traas

Lindsey Buckingham

Pantages Theatre on Friday 9.16

Buckingham began his solo career with 1981's Law and Order, led by the gorgeous single "Trouble" and full of the sort of candied eccentricity that marked his rococo triumphs on Tusk. Another highlight is 1992's Out of the Cradle, whose prodigious melodies and harmonies largely overcome some of L.A.'s blandest tones. Buckingham's new album, Seeds We Sow, displays some of his questionable tendencies—vocals that can rival Darth Vader for breathiness, drum programming that makes one pine for Mick Fleetwood, some overwrought lyrics—but comes through with lovely Beach Man choruses like that on "When She Comes Down," a cool cover of the Stones' "She Smiled Sweetly," and lots of impressive finger-picked guitar. The emphasis will very much be on solo material, but quite likely you'll hear "Go Your Own Way," "Tusk," and a few other Fleetwood Mac favorites. All ages. $43.50-$53.50. 8 p.m. 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Dylan Hicks

Red Pens (7-inch-release show)

Turf Club on Saturday 9.17

The fiery local duo Red Pens have been setting audiences ablaze with their ferocious live shows for years now. But in the short amount of time it took Howard Hamilton and Laura Bennett to captivate the Twin Cities music scene, they have teased their rabid fans with only one blazing full-length and a subsequent follow-up EP. Thankfully, they have been active in the studio once again, and are set to celebrate the release of their latest 7-inch with this performance at the Turf Club. The two stellar new tracks, "Next Summer" and "I Run This," both churn with the fuzzed-out urgency and restless energy that we've come to expect from the ardent twosome. Here's hoping that new songs keep flowing from the band, and they don't keep us waiting too much longer for a second LP. With Safewords and Sulk. 21+. $7. 9 p.m. 1601 University Ave W., St Paul; 651.647.0486. —Erik Thompson

John Hiatt and the Combo

Guthrie Theater on Monday 9.19

Ace songwriter John Hiatt has been cranking out memorable songs and great albums so consistently for so long (more than 30 years), it's almost too easy to take him for granted. But then a new set of tunes snares you with rootsy charms, combining with the realization that Hiatt still floats a bit under the radar despite being covered by a vast swath of artists ranging from Ronnie Milsap and Three Dog Night to Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan, and Iggy Pop. Hiatt's latest collection, Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns, sports a car tune and a train tune, but the overall feel is a kind of smoldering angst. Most songs are saturated with a sense that things just ain't right ("I've been here before but I don't know this place/I've been here with you but I can't see your face"), simmering with unsettling restlessness, then occasionally flaring up as in the seething "Damn This Town." Hiatt's soulful howl is in fine shape throughout, and as usual the Combo (drummer Kenny Blevins, guitarist Doug Lancio, bassist Patrick O'Hearn) nails the wiry mix of rock, country and blues. All ages. $40-$42. 7:30 p.m. 818 S. Second St., Minneapolis; 612.377.2224. —Rick Mason


First Avenue on Tuesday 9.20

For roughly 15 years, beginning in 1982 and ending in 1997, Swans were an uncompromising corpus, a church of pernicious experiments, browbeating meditation, and remarkable sonic exploration. With their music rooted in the meditatively brutal post-punk and no-wave of their birth decade, the band fast incorporated more dynamic elements into their music—saxophone and acoustic guitar and dark country tremolo, and proper singing, even—gouging out a profoundly affecting, beautifully morose nook all their own. The band's svengali and only consistent member, Michael Gira, re-emerged last year with My Father Will Guide Me Up a Rope to the Sky, the band's first record in 13 years and an inarguably septic corrective to a decade domestically partnered to auto-tune and analog blip and self-reflexive toe-dip. Reports from their recent shows describe them as religious-level experiences, otherworldly seances of Gira's focused, alarmingly relatable worldview. Get converted. "To think, is a sin." With Sir Richard Bishop. 18+. $20. 7:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Andrew Flanagan

Ballaké Sissoko and Vincent Segal with Sidi Touré

Cedar Cultural Center on Tuesday 9.20

The Cedar's annual Global Roots Festival opens with a tasty dose of Malian blues, but with a French twist. Guitarist and singer Sidi Touré is from Gao, Mali, and although his noble family discouraged his musical endeavors, he eventually became the lead vocalist for several regional orchestras. As a guitarist, he plays a variation of Songhai blues in a similar vein as the great Ali Farka Touré (although no relation). But on Sahel Folk, Sidi Touré plays strictly acoustic guitar, collaborating with friends in a recording made at his sister's house. The result is hauntingly immediate and intimate, Touré's singing strikingly soulful while his picking is warm and hypnotic. Ballaké Sissoko, also from Mali, is a master of the kora who has collaborated with many others including the great kora player Toumani Diabaté. But Sissoko's Chamber Music project with French cellist Vincent Segal is like no other. Segal plays with great sensitivity, imparting a measure of European classical music to the proceedings, but in a manner that enhances the essence of Sissoko's entrancing Malian blues. All ages. Free. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

James Farm

Dakota Jazz Club on Tuesday 9.20 and Wednesday 9.21

An all-star-caliber collaborative band, James Farm features four outstanding members of jazz's younger generation, each leaders in their own right: saxophonist Joshua Redman, pianist Aaron Parks, bassist Matt Penman, and drummer Eric Harland. The group's professed aim is to take a "song-based" approach to jazz while incorporating a variety of contemporary influences, a formula for disastrous muzak in the wrong hands. But this quartet manage it quite brilliantly on thier eponymous debut. All four's compositions flirt with melodies enough to warrant the "song" tag as well as tapping elements of rock, funk, soul, electronica, and more, yet never compromise with the sense that this is serious jazz absorbing other influences, not to be confused with fusion. The smart, restless improvisations, meanwhile, carry the concoction to a different plane. Harland propels most of the material with slippery urgency that varies in textural intensity from a gospel-tinged ballad like Parks's "Bijou" to his own frenetic workout "I-10," while Redman shines throughout without stealing the spotlight. $40 at 7 p.m.; $30 at 9 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason