Critics' Picks: Three 6 Mafia, Grimes, Balkan Beat Box, and more

EMA: Party in the USA
EMA: Party in the USA
courtesy of the artist


7th St. Entry, Thursday 3.08

Erika M. Anderson has successfully shed her innocuous South Dakota upbringing and managed to make quite a name for herself in the indie-music world. In recent years, she played with the noise-rock outfit Amps for Christ, and then formed the languidly experimental Gowns with the Mae Shi's Ezra Buchla. After Gowns disbanded, she set off on her own as EMA, and that's when her career truly took off. EMA arrived on a massive wave of hype and hyperbole, with a fragile, intoxicating voice and a diaphanous sound that easily captured the attention of the taste-makers. In the past, her uneven live show had yet to match the stirring elegance of her critically lauded full-length, Past Life Martyred Saints, but EMA is at her most seasoned for this visit. 18+. $12. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —erik Thompson

Corrosion of Conformity / Torche

Triple Rock Social Club, Thursday 3.08

Some of the finest metal created south of the Mason-Dixon line is currently confined to one thrilling tour. Corrosion of Conformity rep North Carolina with hard, sludgy riffs that grasp a newfound intensity on their new, self-titled disc. With bassist Mike Dean taking over vocal duties from now-departed Pepper Keenan, the lineup is back to what it was when the band started shredding 30 years ago. Opening up is the equally heavy Miami-Atlanta crew of Torche, who lighten the mood only slightly with singer-guitarist Steve Brooks's humor, and the occasional Guided by Voices cover. 18+, $18, 7 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Reed Fischer

Julianna Barwick

Walker Art Center, Thursday 3.08

"Ethereal" is a word overused by music writers, but seldom is it more apt than in the case of Julianna Barwick. The Brooklyn-based artist essentially creates audio stained-glass windows with her sharp, rapturous voice and loads of loops. Although The Magic Place, her first full-length, is the sort of album that'll prick the ears of ambient and new age devotees, we're talking Enya on really good acid here. Could there be a better accompaniment for wandering through the Perlman Gallery? Perhaps in the afterlife. Free, 6 p.m., 7 p.m., and 8 p.m. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. —Reed Fischer

Tab Benoit's Swampland Jam


Cajun bluesman Tab Benoit is known not only for his gritty, bayou-soaked songcraft, but also for his ardent environmental activism, trying to protect those bayous from washing into the Gulf of Mexico. His Voice of the Wetlands All Stars bring together virtually every strain of music found in southern Louisiana, many of which also spice up his blues-centric solo projects. They'll likely also seep into Swampland Jam, which is the formidable trio of Benoit, Beausoleil fiddler (and leader) Michael Doucet, and zydeco accordionist Chubby Carrier (leader of his Bayou Swamp Band). Doucet turned up on three songs on Benoit's latest album, 2011's Medicine: the moss-draped acoustic lament "Long Lonely Bayou," a swinging version of Augie Meyers's "Can't You See," and the rousing swamp rocker "Mudboat Melissa." New Orleans's Anders Osborne co-wrote most of the songs and matched fiery guitar licks with the Stevie Ray-influenced Benoit, who should stir up an especially tasty red-hot roux with his Louisiana compatriots at the Cabooze. 21+, $18-$20. 9 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Rick Mason

Three 6 Mafia

Epic, Friday 3.09

For a good portion of the '00s—roughly the span that covered 2000's definitive UGK collaboration "Sippin' on Some Syrup," 2005's biggest hit "Stay Fly," and their 2006 Oscar win for "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp"—Memphis's Three 6 Mafia went from regional heroes to one of the biggest Southern rap acts going. Then came the distractions: the reality TV sideshow Adventures in Hollyhood, and a series of album delays—2008's Last 2 Walk spent a year in limbo; the unreleased Laws of Power is two and a half years past its original fall '09 release date. For years now, DJ Paul and Juicy J have spent more time doing solo joints and collaborations with other rappers than putting out new material as a team. But Triple 6's grassroots history and mastery of their long-standing formula have kept their style away from mercenary trend-chasing, and it's aged well—amped-up, shouty club rap with firecracker digital snares and horror-flick melodies will always be in style, and nobody does it better. With Ying Yang Twins. 18+, $25, 9:30 p.m. 110 N. Fifth St., 612.332.3742. —Nate Patrin

Very Small Animal CD-Release Show

Amsterdam Bar and Hall, Saturday 3.10

The local roots-folk quartet Very Small Animal are finally set to give their fans something tangible to connect with at the record-release show for their debut EP, Starlings. The earnest young group have slowly been cultivating quite a devoted following in the Twin Cities due to their impassioned, stirring live shows, which feature stark, affecting arrangements and genuine lyrics. This evening should be an enjoyable one, with the band not only having their EP on offer, but also providing crayons and limited-edition coloring books inspired by their lyrics available so everyone can "channel your creative inner child." It's a free, full night featuring a bill composed solely of talented local acts, so come early and stay late to celebrate with all the bands. With Sleeping in the Aviary, Brian Just Band, and Oak Ribbons. 21+. No cover. 9 p.m. 6 W. Sixth St., St Paul; 612.285.3112. —Erik Thompson

Lady Antebellum / Thompson Square / Darius Rucker


This exhibition of corporate Nashville at its most commercially potent sports three acts that have mastered amiable hit-making. Not surprisingly, they've also racked up massive sales and a slew of awards, including the 2012 country album of the year Grammy for Lady Antebellum's Own the Night, making it two in a row (following 2011's Need You Now). Own the Night is dominated by MOR pop ballads in which Charles Kelley and Hilary Scott trade romantic utterings with modest hooks. A bit of spunk surfaces on "Friday Night," and there are brief appearances of dobro and fiddle as reminders that this is supposed to be country. Thompson Square—the married duo of Keifer and Shawna Thompson—rock out more than Lady Antebellum, but creep only marginally closer to actual country on their eponymous debut, which hasn't discouraged nominations for a variety of country awards, mostly for the single "Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not." Darius Rucker also was familiar with putting competently fashioned pop up the charts as lead singer of Hootie & the Blowfish, a strategy he's continued in his country-leaning solo career. His likable baritone addresses country standbys whiskey and the southern state of mind on his latest, 2010's Charleston, SC 1966, featuring more steel guitar on one track than his tourmates' entire albums. $29.50-$54.50. 7 p.m. 600 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.673.1600. —Rick Mason

Balkan Beat Box

First Avenue Mainroom, Sunday 3.11

Balkan Beat Box drive people crazy worldwide with their sinuous horns and percussion and socio-politically driven Gypsy rock, reggae, and dancehall songs. Bursting out of New York City's underground music scene in 2005, the Israeli-born expats Ori Kaplan (ex-Gogol Bordello), Tamir Muskat (ex-Firewater), and Tomer Yosef as frontman have cultivated wild onstage energy via an amalgam of Greek, Arab, Balkan, and Bulgarian music. With the new release Give, they expand beyond Mediterranean borders to infuse African, Asian, and South American electronic club-music influences into their already potent sound. With Palenke and Soul Tribe. 18+, $2, 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Cyn Collins


7th St. Entry, Tuesday 3.13

Pop manufacture has never been an easy task, but leave it to the young to figure out a fresh take. The 23-year-old Grimes has already assembled three synth-tickled albums, and the latest, Visions, is one of 2012's catchiest thus far. With lead single "Genesis" showing her playfulness with a barrage of different vocal effects, and "Oblivion" cutting as sharp as the Knife did a few years back, this is pixie-ish fun that could foster dance-like movements from the audience. Fun fact: Grimes (real name Claire Boucher) attempted to sail a houseboat down the Mississippi River, Huckleberry Finn-style. Not so fun fact: Subsequent engine trouble, and the Minneapolis Police Department, kept it from happening. With Born Gold, and Elite Gymnastics. 18+, SOLD OUT, 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Reed Fischer

courtesy of the artist
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