Critics' Picks: Starkey, the Darkness, the Best Love Is Free, and more

The Darkness stepping out in the lightness
Marianne Harris

Other Lives/ Halloween, Alaska

7th St. Entry, Thursday 2.09

Between dates with the Vaccines in Europe and opening for Radiohead in the U.S., Oklahoma folk-rock quintet Other Lives bring their rich, evocative sound to the intimate confines of the Entry on a short headlining tour of their own. In all likelihood, this show will be the last chance for local music fans to see the band in such a small venue. Touring in support of their gorgeous recent record, Tamer Animals, the group has crafted a timeless sound that immediately seems familiar, but gracefully reveals added depth and texture with each listen. Some major players in the music industry have fallen for them already, and now here's your chance to start swooning over the band along with the rest of us. The captivating local quartet Halloween, Alaska open the evening, and will complement the intoxicating sounds of the headliners. 18+. $10 adv./$12 door. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Erik Thompson

Heartless Bastards

First Avenue Mainroom, Friday 2.10

The 7th St. Entry proved to be too small a venue for the swelling fan base of Austin, Texas, garage rockers Heartless Bastards, and the show was moved to the Mainroom to accommodate the growing demand. After 2009's dark, introspective The Mountain, frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom took her time in crafting the sanguine, spirited follow-up, Arrow, which is due out a few days after their Minneapolis show. Wennerstrom also reshaped the lineup of the band, bringing back drummer Dave Colvin and bassist Jesse Ebaugh, as well as adding guitarist Mark Nathan to help fill out their sound. While Heartless Bastards' live shows have always been absorbing affairs, this potent new lineup will surely add some raw, refreshing energy to Wennerstrom's already feisty, emotional songs. (All tickets for the Entry show will be honored in the Mainroom.) With Hacienda. 18+. $15. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. — Erik Thompson


7th St. Entry, Friday 2.10

It seems like there are two kinds of music fans these days: those who think all dubstep consists of electro-fusion bass-barf with the tendency to abuse sikk dropz, and those who think that's just true of all American dubstep. But Philadelphia's Starkey nailed down his glitchy, controlled chaos on 2006's Local Headlines EP way back when Skrillex was still trafficking in emo, and he's been going from strength to strength ever since. His successive full-lengths—2008's frenetic, grime-skewing Ephemeral Exhibits and 2010's ravier, more euphoric Ear Drums and Black Holes—traffic in the wobbly bombast and crushing low-end that Stateside audiences have grown to crave, but there's a fine-tuned sense of melodic sweep and percussive sophistication under all that whomp. He's branched out a bit since bro-step broke—the audacious title track of last year's Open the Pod Bay Doors EP sounds like a stealth remix of M83—but everything he's done over the past couple of years is a testament to making the more populist strains of bass music work on pure terms. 18+, $5-$10, 8 p.m. , 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Nate Patrin

The Best Love Is Free

Fine Line, Saturday 2.11

For the third year running, the Best Love Is Free offers a different sort of celebration for Valentine's Day weekend. If candlelit dinners aren't your bag, maybe a classed-up rap show, complete with a free compilation CD, is more your style. As Toki Wright, Culture Cry Wolf, Crunchy Kids, and many more serenade you from the stage, you'll have the opportunity to win prizes from a number of local stores and eateries and perhaps even win best-dressed couple. Couples packages are available. Check the website,, for more info and a huge amount of exclusive videos and interviews from artists who grace the CD. 18+, $10-$12, 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N.,Minneapolis, 612.338.8100. —Jack Spencer


Kitty Kat Club, Saturday 2.11

After a highly promising start on the local scene in the mid-2000s, skilled Brit-pop purveyors the Alarmists slowly fizzled out. By early 2010, gigs were increasingly rare and band membership appeared to be a revolving door. Thankfully the group's sole constant, frontman Eric Lovold, appears to have found sure musical footing once more in a new band, freshly formed quartet Heartbeats. Admittedly, this claim is based on scant evidence—a grand total of one released song. But what a song! The group's first single, "Radio Distraction," features all the same ingredients that initially made the Alarmists so compelling: ear-worm vocal melodies, barbed-wire early-Oasis-reminiscent riffs, and swelling-at-just-the-right-moment synths. Tonight marks the band's live debut and work is already well underway on a full-length album. Why look to England for a new British invasion when homegrown heroes can cook up anglophile rock this good? With Demographics, Me and My Arrow. 21+, $5, 9 p.m. 315 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis. 612.331.9800. —Rob Van Alstyne

The Darkness

First Avenue Mainroom, Sunday 02.12

The Darkness stormed onto the music scene in 2003 with histrionic hair-metal that we'd confidently thought was left behind in the '80s. But the unabashed arena anthems of the English quartet certainly caught the fancy of music fans and critics who wanted to turn back the clocks while they turned up the stereo. After a disappointing second album, frontman Justin Hawkins left the band and checked into rehab, causing the group to break up in 2006. However, the story doesn't end there. They have recently reunited, with Hawkins and all original members in tow, and are supposedly set to release a new record at some point this year. This First Avenue show is part of a small, 13-city tour for the Darkness, who are set to prove to the world that not only do they still have it, but that they never lost it in the first place. With Foxy Shazam and Crown Jewel Defense. 18+. $25. 7:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Erik Thompson

Ana Moura

Dakota Sunday 2.12 & Monday 2.13

Singer Ana Moura is one of the brightest young stars of fado, the haunting, centuries-old Portuguese style whose spirit is roughly equivalent to the blues. Rooted in traditional Portuguese balladry and poetry, fado also incorporates a vital tangle of Arabic, African, and Jewish tendrils, coming together to express the virtually untranslatable notion of saudade, which is akin to a potent mix of longing, sadness, and bittersweet resignation. Moura uses her exquisitely rich voice to probe every nuance and crevice of fado, wringing fathoms of emotion from its enormous reservoir while accompanied by florid acoustic picking. On Coliseu, released in 2011 but recorded live in Lisbon three years earlier, Moura covers fado queen Amália Rodrigues and her own modern fados, ranging from slow and heartbreakingly mournful to far more sprightly stuff. With a background in pop and rock, Moura has performed with the Rolling Stones and been known to do a fado-infused version of the Stones' "Brown Sugar" in concert. And to exploit a local connection, Prince is a fan and backed her on electric guitar at a Portuguese festival several years ago, subsequently also showing up unannounced at at least one U.S. concert. $35. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.5299. —Rick Mason

Playing for Change

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts Sunday 2.12

Producer Mark Johnson traversed the globe recording mainly street musicians singing verses of classic tunes that he spliced into melting-pot nuggets for a documentary and album. Most prominently, Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," anchored by street singers Roger Ridley in Santa Monica and Grandpa Elliott in New Orleans, became a 2009 YouTube sensation. The project's enduring aim is to promote international peace, understanding, music and arts education, and community empowerment through music. The mash of multiple performers and shifting styles on each song could be a mess. But they mostly hang together marvelously, carrying an inspirational spirit echoing many of the lyrics. A second volume, PFC2: Songs Around the World, was issued last year, again with a worldwide cast (augmented by stars Keb Mo, Baaba Maal, Taj Mahal, Stephen Marley, Totó La Momposina), covering the likes of Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, and John Lennon. Now PFC's Back to Our Roots tour kicks off at the Ordway with a 10-piece band led by the sweet soul voices of Elliott and the Netherlands' Clarence Bekker. Other members hail from Congo, Zimbabwe, South Africa, and the U.S., notably bassist Reggie McBride and guitarist Renard Poché. $20-$38, 7:30 p.m. 345 Washington St., St. Paul; 651.224.4222. —Rick Mason

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Related Locations

7th St. Entry

701 1st Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55403-1327


Fine Line Music Cafe

318 1st Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55401


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