Critics' Picks: Madonna, Crystal Castles, Dan Deacon, and more

Go see Dan Deacon and get that high-five in person
Shawn Brackbill

Dan Deacon

Cedar Cultural Center, Saturday 11.3

If you're searching for an impossible-to-forget concert experience, go see Dan Deacon. The lovable Baltimore weirdo has a knack for getting the audience involved in his shows, which might lead to you holding hands with a stranger during a deranged prayer or wasting the competition in an impromptu dance-off. The music ranges from bizzaro dance cuts to more cerebral fare, but regardless of what he's playing, Deacon rarely performs anywhere except right in the middle of the crowd. Something becomes clear after seeing him on the floor coordinating crazy stunts while performing music that's oddly rousing: Deacon both is and is not on your level. With Height With Friends, Chester Endersby Gwazda, and Alan Resnick. All ages, $14-$16, 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Ian Traas

Father John Misty

Fine Line Music Cafe, Wednesday 10.31

It seemed incredibly dumb for Josh Tillman to leave his post as Fleet Foxes' drummer, which is exactly what he did last January. But before he'd even joined up with the Seattle-based folkies, the 31-year-old Tillman had proven capable of a productive solo career by releasing four albums of stern, modest folk of his own. This year catches Tillman performing as Father John Misty, and his first album under the moniker, Fear Fun, marks a shift in sound, with quicker, fuller songs that feature country linings and sturdy hooks in addition to the sense of dry humor that made Tillman a crowd favorite at Fleet Foxes gigs. Also, the strum-happy rambler "I'm Writing a Novel" is one of the funniest songs of the year. Also, note the first word in the album's title and the fact that Tillman's coming to town on Halloween. With La Sera. 18+, $15, 8 p.m., 318 First Ave., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Mike Madden

Crystal Castles

First Avenue, Thursday 11.1

When the debut album dropped, the list of people who saw longevity in Crystal Castles was short. The car-crash pileup of 8-bit synths, micro-edited drums, and punk vitriol was sharp enough to thrill, but it seemed destined for a mayfly's lifespan. Fast-forward a few years and the duo has rolled over to expose a dreamy side that no one thought existed. Bigger surprise: That side is gorgeous, a perfect foil for the band's brattier tendencies. Now there's a third album on the horizon that seems to braid both sides into something as ferocious as it is alluring, drawing you in with mystery and fog before the jaws snap shut. Evolution should always feel so dangerous. With Kontravoid. 18+, $32.50, 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. — Ian Traas

Benjamin Gibbard

Woman's Club Theater, Thursday 11.1

Gossip mongers hoping that Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard's debut solo album, Former Lives, would delve into his recent split from Hollywood starlet Zooey Deschanel for songwriting fodder will undoubtedly be disappointed. Rather than a snapshot of recent personal upheavals, Former Lives collects scattered songs written over the past eight years, a point conspicuously played up in its accompanying press materials, all of which practically scream, "Don't you dare assume these songs are about my recent divorce." The record is great regardless of what emotional travails inspired it. Working outside of the confines of a band frees Gibbard and to set his clear-eyed tenor atop previously unexplored sounds, from the pedal-steel powered country-pop of "Broken Yolk in Western Sky" to the McCartney-indebted piano balladry of "Duncan, Where Have You Gone?" With Advance Base. All ages, $32.50, 7 p.m. 410 Oak Grove St., Minneapolis; 612.813.5314. —Rob Van Alstyne

Sleigh Bells

First Avenue, Friday 11.2

Sleigh Bells have made the most of their penchant for excess. Mixing rap beats pushed so far into the red that you probably checked your speakers for damage with metal guitar shredding and vocals that shouted and cooed in equal measure, the duo sounded like some righteous party where the cheerleaders hooked up with the headbangers. Now it sounds like they've swapped the beer for, um, ADD medication. Sleigh Bells returned this year with Reign of Terror, which took everything special about the band and stuffed it into a smaller box — resulting in songs that retained the fun but had new focus. Maybe we'll get lucky and see they've put the same effort into their live show. With Araabmuzik. 18+, $25, 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas

Laurie Anderson

Walker Art Center, Friday 11.2 + Saturday 11.3 + Sunday 11.4

On the cusp of a pivotal national election, performance artist Laurie Anderson arrives at the Walker's McGuire Theater for three presentations of her latest solo endeavor, Dirtday!, in large part a meditation on the disunited state of the United States. Inspired in part by the Occupy Wall Street movement, Anderson has described Dirtday! as "a dreamscape of words" about the country's "aspirations and regrets," a theme in one form or another that has run through much of Anderson's career, from her surprising flirtation with popular success to her most avant-garde work. She'll tell stories, relate humorous and sobering anecdotes, play her violin, and try to make sense of things before the dirt really hits the fan a few days later. Sold out. 8 p.m. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. —Rick Mason


Xcel Energy Center, Saturday 11.3 + Sunday 11.4

There's something irresistibly right about Madonna's self-confidence. Her old songs get better with time. Her sometimes desperate-sounding new ones ("I'm Addicted," "I'm a Sinner") are better already. She still sells out arenas 27 years after playing the St. Paul Civic Center with the Beastie Boys. The old fake wisdom that her provocations were cheap has long since given way to the accumulation of great melodies, which she sings attentively as if they're just within reach, and the acknowledgment that she's been good for the culture. Vocally she's forever pulling back, which evokes prayer and seduction, and maybe blank space for projection. But her naughty presence will be missed when she leaves, whether popularity is her canvas or her patron, her playground or her physical therapy. For a dancer and pop star, that's a distinction without a difference. With Paul Oakenfold. $47-$357, 7 p.m. 199 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651.265.4800. —Peter S. Scholtes

Milo Greene

Varsity Theater, Sunday 11.4

Given the runaway success that greeted Local Natives' debut album a few years back, it was inevitable that a second wave of indie acts featuring vaguely tribal rhythms and heavy interlocking harmony vocals would soon follow. Among the best of them is Los Angeles quintet Milo Greene. Their self-titled debut album has a softer and more subdued feel, with the band's four vocalists/multi-instrumentalists constantly shifting roles to little effect in terms of changing the band's overall sound. A polished and poppy affair befitting its major-label backing, Milo Green's debut actually works best when it eschews tricky time signatures to serve up straightforward and minimalist balladry like "Wooden Antlers," which wisely shines the spotlight on the band's strongest vocal asset, lone female singer Marlana Sheetz. With Bahamas. 18+, $13-$15, 7:30 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Rob Van Alstyne

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