Critics Picks: KRS-ONE and more



Blitzen Trapper

7th St. Entry

Having trouble reconciling your classic-rock guilty pleasure with your avant-garde sensibilities? Well, Blitzen Trapper may be what you've been waiting for. Playing a fluid, eclectic mix of alt-country, '70s rock, and the latest in indie-pop taste-making, the Portland, Oregon, natives are hard to pin down—and that's entirely on purpose. Blitzen Trapper's latest effort, Wild Mountain Nation, combines off-kilter beats with a knack for melody and harmony, while playing hopscotch through the aforementioned genres. But somehow, along with the revivalist spirit behind their reinterpretations of classic sounds, an updated current flows through their efforts, creating a crisp, clean effect despite the emporium of detail in each song. If you find yourself yearning for the Grateful Dead or Led Zeppelin as much as you are intrigued by the newest evolution in indie pop, Blitzen Trapper may be your ticket to ride. With Fleet Foxes and Themes. 21+. $8. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Desiree Weber

Gay Beast

Big V's

Gay Beast is the fiercest animal-themed band. They're not Ponys or Panthers or even a Band of Horses—they're straight-up beasts. They don't pussyfoot around with the music, either; they've got wacky song titles like "2 Borgs for Every Borg" and time signatures stuck in warp drive. In general, the boys sound like they've been sucking on live wires regularly since forming in 2005. Gay Beast's three members play post-punk-tinged noise rock in the vein of Lightning Bolt, but with better vocals, and have biting guitars that would make Gang of Four weak in the knees. If this beast is anything like its music, I'm guessing it has several rows of teeth. Beware. With Carla Bozulich's Evangelista and To Kill a Petty Bourgeoisie. $5. 8 p.m. 1567 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.645.8472. —Erin Roof


Jesse Malin/De Novo Dahl

Varsity Theater

The rock 'n' roll troubadour has always evoked a certain romanticism. Jesse Malin is no exception, with his knack for Springsteen-esque lyricism and city-gritty themes of love, loss, longing, and redemption. After an eight-year tenure as frontman of glam-punks D-Generation, Malin has been a solo artist equally as long. His new record of all covers, On Your Sleeve, features genre-crossing selections, from Sam Cooke's "Wonderful World" to Harry Nilsson's "Everybody's Talkin'." His version of the Hold Steady's "You Can Make Him Like You" was one of the songs that stood out among Malin's originals at his Fine Line performance in July. However, a bit of confusion remains. While he takes the first leg of his tour stateside, technically Sleeve is only being released in Europe and the U.K. this month. It'll be a shame if it isn't gracing the merch table on Thursday. De Novo Dahl opens with their seriously catchy indie pop, undoubtedly wearing their trademark quirky matching outfits. 18+. $12/$14 day of show. 8 p.m., 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Jen Paulson

Hot Buttered Rum


The northern California quintet Hot Buttered Rum like to call themselves a rock band in bluegrass disguise. Armed with mandolins, banjo, upright bass, and fiddle, but no drums, HBR have the bluegrass aspect down. Some songs have a rock structure, and the boys often conjure up an approximation of rock energy, especially in the flesh and on their latest collection, Live in the Northeast. But there's also lots of improvisation, plenty of elements that originated in the Appalachians, and assorted weirdness, leaving HBR somewhere between jam band, new grass, and modified jug band. In fact, Northeast features a cool cover of the Grateful Dead's "Cumberland Blues," a spot of psychedelia on "Spider," a quirky country-rock ballad in "Queen Elizabeth," and a fierce reggae run on "Return Someday," sporting a raging electric-guitar-like solo by fiddler Aaron Redner. For good measure, HBR manage a palatable version of one of the most annoying songs of all time, Leo Sayer's "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing," which for once didn't make me feel like puking. With Sans Souci Quartet. 18+. $10/$12 at the door. 8 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Rick Mason




Teacher, poet, lecturer, and Blastmaster. What you might not know about the legendary hip-hopper KRS-ONE, however, is that he's one of the best MCs that ever did it live. Like a true professional, the former BDP member has spent more than 20 years perfecting his stagecraft. It'll be worth the ticket price alone to see what gems (recent or classic) he'll pull out of his enormous hat. Perhaps a few key cuts from last year's invigorating Marley Marl collaboration, Hip Hop Lives? Maybe a healthy dose of BDP's best work from the late '80s? Or an in-depth lecture on the dangers of meat eating? Never one to hide his ferocious appetite for mic supremacy or his willingness to battle any and all whack suckers, KRS's passion ensures that whatever dude comes with tonight, best believe it will be live. $25. 9 p.m. 107 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.465.0440. —Jordan Selbo


Fuck Buttons

Triple Rock Social Club

I imagine Andrew Hung and Benjamin John Power are the kind of people who keep a pile of Hallmark cards for every occasion stashed in their kitchen drawer. Sure, they play noise music—but it's noise music with heart. It's aggression with a glass of milk. Sprawling and expansive, echoing and oscillating, Fuck Buttons balance pulsating noise with softer, more polite tones. The duo works within strict confines, with glacial drone and well-posed repetition that manages to not feel worn out after the ninth minute. Even though Street Horrrsing is 94 percent instrumental, the tones themselves are soaked in so much emotion. This could be the soundtrack to the impending apocalypse, and somehow they make it feel okay. With Caribou. 21+. $12/$15 day of show. 9 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; 612.333.7499. —Erin Roof



First Avenue

With Pennzoil-slick punk production and political sensibilities that seem informed by irate high-schoolers copping a drag on cigarettes outside Cosmic Charlie's, Pittsburgh power-punks Anti-Flag seem hell bent on making themselves an easy target for the knuckle-tattoo set who still remembers seeing Minor Threat at the Entry. But however skin-deep you find their political stances, they have focused the frustrations of the nation's adolescents into political outrage, and they keep their fans thinking hard enough to scan the front page of the Wall Street Journal on their way to the Wedge. So what if you've grown up? Remember when a band actually made you take your fist out of your pocket and put it in the air? Sure you do. So be a sport and don't spoil the fun. With Street Dogs, the Briggs, and Fake Problems. $15/$17 at the door. 5 p.m. 701 First Ave. N, Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —David Hansen