Critics' Picks: Zoo Animal, Dillinger Four, and Lyle Lovett

Genre-bending virtuosos Kronos Quartet come to the Walker

Genre-bending virtuosos Kronos Quartet come to the Walker

Kronos Quartet

Friday 2.4 and Saturday 2.5 at Walker Art Center

For 30-some years, the quintessentially maverick Kronos Quartet has been redefining chamber music, roaming from classical music to the avant garde via jazz, rock, and a seemingly endless array of global sounds, both ancient and startlingly contemporary. Besides virtuoso performances by the four string players, including founder John Harrington, Kronos regularly commissions works from cutting-edge composers and collaborates with musicians from every corner of the globe, the mind-boggling stretch covering Jimi Hendrix to Ornette Coleman, Chinese pipa ace Wu Man, Argentinian Osvaldo Olijov, minimalist Terry Riley, and opera soprano Dawn Upshaw. That only scratches the surface. Kronos will perform two very different shows at the Walker: Friday's repertoire will be from its latest CD, Floodplain (Nonesuch), which includes works from fertile regions of Iraq, Serbia, India, Palestine, and beyond. Saturday's performance will emphasize Kronos's stylistic diversity, covering rock, jazz, and classical pieces from the likes of Gorillaz, Minnesota native Maria Schneider, Bryce Dressner of the National, and Missy Mazzoli. It's essential music from an iconic ensemble. $30 ($25 Walker members) single show; $45 both shows. 8 p.m. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis, 612.375.7600. —Rick Mason

Zoo Animal, Red Pens, and Gospel Gossip

Thursday 2.3 at Loring Theater

A trifecta of local talent comes together this week to help christen the recently rebranded Loring Theater (formerly the Music Box) on Nicollet Avenue, which has reverted to its original name just in time for the building's 90th anniversary. Minimalist rock trio Zoo Animal and wall-of-sound duo Red Pens dominated our Picked to Click poll in 2009, while shoegaze-influenced post-punk trio Gospel Gossip was a runner-up in 2008; all three acts have stared the perils of the "Picked to Click curse" dead in the eye and proven themselves to be prolific, powerhouse live acts who have long since bulldozed over the "buzz band" label. While they can individually be seen headlining other clubs around town, tonight's theater gig will be a rare chance to catch all three on one stage, and it's guaranteed to be an airtight (and loud) show. All ages. $13. 7 p.m. 1407 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.871.1414. —Andrea Swensson

Peter Wolf Crier and Retribution Gospel Choir

Thursday 2.3 at Cedar Cultural Center

Last year proved to be quite a good one for both Retribution Gospel Choir and Peter Wolf Crier, as each put out records that received plenty of well-deserved accolades, while their riveting live shows took them all around the world, consistently winning over new fans in the process. And 2011 should prove to be no different, as these Minnesota-based bands are rolling through the familiar stomping grounds of Minneapolis (a city both groups understandably played quite a bit in 2010), in the middle of a successful joint U.S. tour together. They should find a passionate, enthusiastic crowd awaiting them at the Cedar, one that has supported each of them right from the start. I also wouldn't be too surprised if, after touring so extensively, the bands have worked up a new song or two that might surface in their set, giving us all a glimpse into what they have in store for us next. All ages. $12. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Erik Thompson

John Scofield Trio

Thursday 2.3 at Dakota Jazz Club

Among a handful of the key jazz guitarists of his generation, John Scofield also is one of its most versatile. His numerous projects run the jazz gamut from prickly free escapades through swing to fluid balladry, but he also loves to work a groove and has done extensive explorations of fusion, gnarly funk, and R&B, sneaking in a share of rock influence along the way. In the last couple of years, Scofield has gotten a lot of mileage out of his fascinating Piety Street project: gospel standards reinvented New Orleans-style with second line funk master George Porter. Now, with a ballads album reportedly on the way, Scofield returns with his frequent jazz trio collaborators, agile electric bass innovator Steve Swallow and kinetic drummer Bill Stewart. $40 at 7 p.m.; $30 at 9:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

Dillinger Four and Paint It Black

Friday 2.4 at Triple Rock Social Club

It feels like it's summer in...February. With hectic personal schedules, D4 have limited their recent local shows to annual July 4th events. However, with Philly hardcore idols Paint It Black on a rare mini-tour, Dillinger Four are going to shake off the rust and share the bill. Odds are favorable that Erik and Billy will look very drunk, Paddy will say something ridiculous, and Lane will twirl many a drumstick. Typically sets contain scattered material that covers the band's entire catalog, going all the way back to the mid-'90s. Like D4, Paint It Black (ex-Lifetime and Kid Dynamite) don't hit the road often—this being their first time in Minneapolis since 2005—and the band bring a powerful brand of hardcore fueled by their pummeling rhythm section and quick guitar work with just enough melodic breakdowns to keep it moving along. 18+. $12. 9 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Loren Green

Dean Magraw & Marcus Wise (CD-release)

Saturday 2.5 at Cedar Cultural Center

Longtime friends and collaborators, and virtuosos on their respective instruments, tabla player Marcus Wise and guitarist Dean Magraw recorded How the Light Gets In, their second album (after a 25-year hiatus), while Magraw was fighting a grave illness and dealing with a bone marrow transplant. It was a dark time, but Light's music shines with a radiance emanating from the brilliant synchronicity of their quiet but thrilling play. Entirely improvised and, as Wise says, "listening for the music between the notes of each other's voices," tabla and guitar essentially become different dimensions of the same instrument, probing fathoms of the soul while transcending East and West, light and dark, for the mysteries in between. Poet Robert Bly will also appear at this album-release concert. All ages. $12/$15 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

Lyle Lovett & John Hiatt

Monday 2.7 at State Theatre

These two masterful songwriters, quirky characters, and especially vital forces of musical nature have been doing these sort of intimate song-swapping shows periodically for more than 20 years. Armed with acoustic guitars and deep reservoirs of memorable songs, both Lovett and Hiatt have ample room to roam in their respective catalogs, each etched with roots running from country to blues. Lovett's tend more to the surreal, along with evocative (and often metaphoric) sketches of the windswept western landscape, infused with western swing and chamber folk. Hiatt is more of a classic storyteller whose myriad roots entwine a rock 'n' roll heart. The pair's between-tunes banter could be as entertaining as the music, but make sure you hydrate beforehand, since Lovett's witticisms are as notoriously dry as the Mojave. $43–$78.50. 7:30 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason

James Hunter

Monday 2.7 and Tuesday 2.8 at Dakota Jazz Club

The best male neo-soul singer to emerge from Britain this century started out in the pubs as Howlin' Wilf (a name seemingly culled from This Is Spinal Tap), even while still a railroad worker in Colchester. With splendid R&B pipes and an uncanny ability to channel the likes of Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, and even James Brown's yowl, James Hunter eventually emerged with his own persona, albeit one comfortably ensconced in the aura of the '50s and '60s. His two U.S. releases—People Gonna Talk, The Hard Way (the last from 2008)—were highly addictive revelations, his originals naturally slipping among the classics, driven by honking horns and his own bristling guitar work, informed by jump jazz and seminal funk. Hunter returns leading his six-piece band. $40. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason

The Decemberists

Sunday 2.6 at State Theatre

The last two times that the Decemberists have come through Minneapolis, it was in support of their elaborate prog-rock opera The Hazards of Love, with the band playing the album in its entirety each time, only revisiting their older material during the extended encores. This time around, there aren't any high-minded concept albums to support, just the understated majesty of their brilliant new record, The King Is Dead, an album which finds the band indulging their R.E.M. proclivities as well as hearkening back to their whimsically diaphanous early work. Not only do we get to hear these gorgeous new songs performed live for the first time in the area, but a more flexible set list will allow for a comprehensive sampling of the band's outstanding back catalog. An often overlooked aspect of the Decemberists' live show is the fact that frontman Colin Meloy, despite the self-seriousness of his bookish songs, is actually quite funny onstage, continually providing witty asides that will only add to your enjoyment of the performance. But the stellar songs are clearly the main draw here, brought to life by the supremely talented group of musicians that will be joining Meloy (sadly, though, no Peter Buck or Gillian Welch, who contributed significantly to the new record), including Nickel Creek violinist Sara Watkins, who will be handling the majority of Welch's vocal parts on the new songs. All ages. $32.50. 6:30 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Erik Thompson