Critics' Picks: Mac Lethal and more

Mac Lethal just ate a whole pig and he's ready to throw down

Mac Lethal just ate a whole pig and he's ready to throw down


Kitten Forever

Triple Rock Social Club

Kitten Forever want you to think they're cute. Their Myspace page is adorned with dizzying rows of hearts. Singer Liz Elton can sometimes conjure the voice of a squealing little girl. And sure, maybe they have sweet smiles. But don't let them fool you—this lady trio could kick your ass. This fact is clear about 1.5 seconds into "Fat Crush," which begins with a riotous "One, two, fuck you/WWWAAAAHHH!" Woah. What to expect at their Triple Rock show: eardrum-shattering cymbals, screeching guitars, and vocals like the wailing of a skinned cat. Bring your earplugs and your brass knuckles, 'cause it's gonna be awesome. With Unicorn Basement, Small White, the Vignettes, Hangun Man, Atomic Annie, and Pocket Pussy. 21+. Free. 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis, MN; 612.333.7703. —Erin Roof


First Avenue

Repudiating the "world music" tag that would seem the obvious shorthand for the Denver quartet's sound, DeVotchKa prefer to cling to the more proletarian "pop" designation. But listen to DeVotchKa for even a few seconds, and it's clear the band synthesize so many diverse strains you need a scorecard to sort them out. Mariachi, Balkan rhythms, flamenco, Gypsy melodies, polka, Sicilian folk, and who-knows-what swirl around in an exotic stew held together by Nick Urata's soaring, Orbisonesque, operatic tenor and a knack for fusing it all into anthemic alt-global pop laced with idiosyncratic hooks. This is a band with the guts to tackle covers of the Velvet Underground and the Frank and Nancy Sinatra duet "Something Stupid" on the same EP, while wielding the likes of bouzouki, theremin, sousaphone, and accordion. DeVotchKa, who got a huge break scoring the 2006 film Little Miss Sunshine, were completely independent until recently signing with Anti-, which released their new A Mad & Faithful Telling. Delightful Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat, meanwhile, returns with her own diverse mix, which sweeps from folk-rock to alt-jazz via chamber pop. 18+. $19.50. 7:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason


Mac Lethal

7th St. Entry

There is an entirely different white-boy vibe when it comes to the hip-hop of Mac Lethal—his rhymes are so clearly articulated and annunciated that they take on a persona of their own. Straight out of Kansas City, the barbeque capitol of the Midwest, David McCleary Sheldon became Mac Lethal and began to gain notoriety with his battle rapping skills when he won Scribble Jam back in 2002. A move to Rhymesayers and a couple of albums later, he's on a spring tour that winds itself around the states before bombarding Minnesota border to border in order to satiate our need for sarcastically clever, occasionally political rap that incorporates his bratty, uncouth, and not-so-secretly sensitive charm. And admit it, the poppy soul-funk of "Sun Storm" was a dope track to listen to when you were watching the occasional elimination clips on America's Best Dance Crew. Show up on time, because an opening set by Seattle's Hip Hop soul man Grieves can't be missed. With DJ Sku and Soulcrate. 18+. $8/$10 at the door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Jen Paulson


VHS or Beta

7th St. Entry

What if you threw a fantastic dance party and no one came? Might want to ask Craig Pfunder. His band, the Louisville, Kentucky-based VHS or Beta, have spent the better part of their career touring the country's cozier establishments. This Friday's show will mark the band's second time playing the 7th St. Entry in support of their latest, the underrated Bring On the Comets. But if the band members are getting a bit weary of cramped quarters, they do a good job of hiding it—Pfunder & Co. rarely fail to deliver an evening of pelvis-rattling anthems, glorious dance music infused with a punk-ish snarl. The no-shows don't know what they're missing. The two openers, Tigercity and locals Maps of Norway, both give their bassists starring roles, but don't expect many other similarities between the bands' smooth, disco-tinged funk and ominous coldwave, respectively. 18+. $13. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Jonathan Garrett

Trampled by Turtles


Ignorance and incorrect assumptions had kept me from listening to Trampled by Turtles until I got a mix with their song "Stranger" on it—from that point on my mind was opened up to the fact that they were not a jam band at all. As the Duluth natives manage to meld bluegrass, country, and folk, they avoid fitting into any of those genres singularly. From their wistful, backcountry sounds, the slowdrive progression that ended their 2007 album Trouble was another example of how they inventively evade definition. Friday's show at the Cabooze fixes to be a rousing warm-up to an enviable spring-into-summer adventure on the road with the sheer volume of festivals they're playing—anything from bluegrass fests to the State Fair to events across the sea in Belfast. They'll pack along with them the old and the new and the even newer, with their spot-on banjo, sublime fiddle, mandolin madness, and finely tuned, dreamy harmonies for an amazingly atmospheric rush to the senses. With Pistol Whipping Party Penguins. 18+. $12/$15 at the door. 8 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Jen Paulson

God Damn Doo Wop Band


After a lengthy hiatus, the God Damn Doo Wop Band return to the Hexagon like Arthur from Avalon (or would Col. Bowie from the Alamo be a more fitting analogy?). After a perfect storm of vehicular misfortunes and the untimely departure of vocalist Carissa Coudray, the God Damn Doo Wop Band emerge from hibernation with Annie Holoien (Soviettes, Awesome Snakes) before the mic and their long-awaited vinyl 7-inch under their arms. There are few acts that incite more genteel behavior from such a roughneck crowd, and that's the Doo Wop Band's charm. Through odes to misspent youth and the foolishness of love, the Doo Wop Band proves that beneath every Black Label vest lies the bashful prom wallflower who clung to the gymnasium risers, dimly hoping for a slow dance before the night ran out. With the God Damn Doo Wop Band, we all get a second chance. 21+. 9 p.m. 2600 27th Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.722.3454. —David Hansen


Nancy Drew Crew

Triple Rock Social Club

It's sometimes hard to understand how Nancy Drew Crew, a three-piece hip-hop troupe that evokes the Shaggs on a 909, can manage to be so dry and yet so exuberant and gleeful, all in the same rhyme. MC Smells, Mayhem, and Skullbuster may be winking at their audiences along the way, but their hooks keep fans busy shaking ass and sweating through their Descendents shirts. Theirs is a style of benevolent forthrightness, and in songs like "Feminist Anthem" and "College Incorporated," they manage an act of smirking dissent that is efficiently infectious. Tonight at the Triple Rock, they further flex their altruistic biceps, as money raised will go to the Coalition for Immokalee Workers, an advocacy group that sticks up for the rights of field workers victimized by fast-food plutocrats. Opposing fast food may be a breach of the hip-hop manifesto, but let's not be essentialists. With Single Speed, Guerrilla Blue, and Las Palabristas. 18+. $8. 9 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; 612.333.7499. —David Hansen


The Kills

Triple Rock Social Club

If love really is just a dialogue, as the Kills claim on their latest single "Cheap and Cheerful," it's a good thing that they don't have much use for it. Instead, VV and Hotel, with their sleazy, staccato riffs and tar-stained vocals, articulate pure animal lust. Midnight Boom, their third full-length album, remains splendidly untamed, the pheromones still too powerful to ignore. Though the Armani XXXchange-assisted beats (Alex Epton of Spank Rock), which draw inspiration from schoolyard chants, do misjudge the line between sinister and creepy at times, they rarely distract from VV and Hotel. And the duo's command extends to the stage, where their predatory vignettes are brought to life with sidelong glances and suggestive poses. The tension is palpable, but love's got nothing to do with it. With Telepathe. 18+. $8. 9 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; 612.333.7499. —Jonathan Garrett