Critics' Picks: Foster the People, Wilco, Beirut, and more

All the Pretty Horses' J Evan LeFreak and Venus DeMars
Marcus Metropolis

Kyuss Lives!

First Avenue on Wednesday 11.30

Propelled by some successful and spontaneous reunions at a few recent festivals, three quarters of the classic Kyuss lineup from the Blues for the Red Sun era have once again joined forces to bring the sound of the desert to frigid Minneapolis. Stoner-rock pioneers John Garcia, Nick Oliveri, and Brant Bjork join with guitar player Bruno Fevery (set with the daunting task of replacing Queens of the Stone Age frontman Josh Homme) to become Kyuss Lives!, returning to the heavy-as-all-hell back catalog that essentially helped define an entire scene of Southern California rock music. The new incarnation is actually working on new material, apparently with Homme's blessing, but this tour will be strictly culled from their string of early-'90s releases, which have aged surprisingly well and continue to pull in new fans. If giant riffs and cavernous drums are your thing, come see the legends in action. With the Sword. 18+. 7 p.m. $25. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Jack Spencer

Laura Marling

Cedar Cultural Center on Thursday 12.1

At 21, English neo-folk singer-songwriter Laura Marling already has inspired considerable acclaim in the U.K. thanks to a trio of startlingly accomplished albums in which her trad-leaning music, hauntingly visionary lyrics, and rich, shadowy voice evince a maturity belying her age. Although thoroughly entwined in English folk's ancient tendrils, Marling's maverick muse drifts to folk-rock, jazzy intimations clearly influenced by Joni Mitchell, and even punk, the prevailing banjo, cello, and acoustic guitar giving way to turbulent electric guitars and biting vocals that stop just short of a howl. The latter happens on the harrowing "The Beast," which with the stark, unsettling tale of sexual toxicity "Night After Night" is at the center of her latest album, A Creature I Don't Know. Marling grapples throughout with weighty subjects like mortality, betrayal, evil, and anger while her music simmers with toil and trouble. But by the end of Creature she tosses all her "rage to the sea and sun," a jaunty purging of angst reminiscent of Sandy Denny-era Fairport Convention, clearing the slate for a career that appears boundless. With the Bello Duo. All ages. $14/$16 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

Venus DeMars & All the Pretty Horses (CD-release show)

Triple Rock Social Club on Friday 12.2

The legendary Minneapolis glam-punk band All the Pretty Horses have a rather tumultuous but storied past, with many different members coming and going throughout their 15-plus-year run before founder Venus DeMars officially decided to bring an end to the band back at the start of 2006. After releasing a solo album, DeMars thought the timing was right to reform the band in '07, this time with a reinvigorated lineup. Sticking with the power-trio formation that has always worked so well for A.T.P.H. (with Jazz Angel on drums and J Evan LeFreak on bass), they are back with their first record with this lineup, 10 Bones, and set to celebrate the release in style with a show at the Triple Rock. And, in addition to the standard CD, the band will also be making a limited-edition double-LP available to their fans at the show. DeMars always puts on an experimental, theatrical live performance, and with a fresh new batch of tunes and an inspired new lineup, All the Pretty Horses should once again capture the fancy of Twin Cities music fans. With Hastings 3000 and the Japhies. 18+. $10. 9 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Erik Thompson


First Avenue on Friday 12.2

Five years ago, when Zach Condon rose quickly through the indie ranks, he was just 19 years old. A hugely talented multi-instrumentalist with a wonderfully rich voice, Condon used his gifts in service of an Eastern European sound that his band shared with a number of other bands. That Balkan flavor could feel like a gimmick at times, so it's for the best that recent efforts have seen Beirut applying those touches with a less heavy hand while making songwriting the priority. Condon's grown, but he's managed to keep the flourishes that made him unique. It's resulted in music that feels rustic and modern simultaneously—old-world charm delivered with young ambition. With Perfume Genius. 18+. Sold out. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Ian Traas

Kinky Friedman

400 Bar on Saturday 12.3

Multi-fanged Texas rattler and jen-u-whine lone star legend Kinky Friedman writes mysteries starring himself as the crime-solving sleuth, dabbles in politics to the extent that he attracted 12 percent of the vote in the 2006 Texas gubernatorial race, and hawks his own brands of cigars and tequila. But his roguish reputation is hinged on the venomously hysterical songs he wrote back in the '70s for a band he led called the Texas Jewboys. Rabidly politically incorrect, Friedman gleefully offended vast swaths of society with ditties like "They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore," "Top Ten Commandments," the anti-feminist "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven And Your Buns in the Bed," and his ode to the Texas Tower sniper, "The Ballad of Charles Whitman." They were properly construed as wildly satiric, but Friedman's persona complicated the sense of how far his tongue extended into his cheek, where it vied for room with his ever-present stogie. And the controversies persist even now. In August, Friedman created a Texas cyclone when he seemed to endorse Rick Perry for president despite having ridiculed him widely during the '06 campaign. His intent is still subject to debate. But the Kinkster is more likely to be endorsing tequila when he makes this rare Minnesota appearance during his 2011 Hanukkah Tour, performing solo and promising all the hits. 21+. $40. 8 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. —Rick Mason

Foster the People

First Avenue on Sunday 12.4

At this point it's pretty safe to say that "Pumped Up Kicks" is the crossover smash of the year. Foster the People's debut single is omnipresent on the radio dial and beyond—it's impossible to get away from. But why would you want to? The young band lends an undeniable good-time feel to everything they touch (even while they're singing about running from gunshots). Foster the People's disco-lite sports razor-sharp hooks while utilizing a bag of tricks that modern dance-music producers have dipped into for years, and the combo has made them stars overnight. The massive appeal of "Kicks" showcases just a fraction of their potential; there's an appeal to the band that reaches beyond immediacy. With Poliça. 18+. Sold out. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Ian Traas


State Theatre on Tuesday 12.6 and Wednesday 12.7

Wilco is a little like baseball—you probably know the rules, but the diehard fans see skill and nuance that are impossible to convey to the casual crowd. Jeff Tweedy and company have become a full-blown American institution, and their fans are tracking stats, keeping up with the band on a micro level. Now that the music landscape is even more filled with scores of tiny genres and outsized attitudes, it's comforting that Wilco exists, continuing to make music that feels like it's been around forever and will find its audience long after current trends burn out. Wilco will doubtlessly keep playing for their fans, and they won't even ask for a stadium to do it in. With Nick Lowe. All ages. $44. 7:30 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Ian Traas

Tower of Power

Dakota Jazz Club on Tuesday 12.6 -Thursday 12.8

Seriously soulful, furiously funky, and tighter than Scrooge McDuck at a misers' convention, the blazing horns of Tower of Power have been setting a standard for wickedly incendiary, muscle-flexing R&B for 43 years. Tower of Power's rousing, formidable Oakland soul has supported and inspired the likes of Sly Stone, Santana, the Rolling Stones, and Aretha Franklin in addition to scoring such indelible hits as "What Is Hip?" and "You're Still a Young Man." Anchored by a solid core of original members, including founding saxophonists Emilio Castillo and Doc Kupka, the 10-piece outfit still roars with a precision and power that defies the years and continues to rocket audiences out of their seats. Thus, Tower of Power fanatics demanding a three-night stand at the Dakota. The magic is convincingly captured on 40th Anniversary, a live CD/DVD recorded at the Fillmore with multiple Tower of Power alumni, and 2009's collection of classic soul covers, Great American Soulbook. $45-$70. 7 and 9 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday; 8 and 10 p.m. Thursday. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

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