El-P, DeVotchKa, Santana, and more

El-P's Cancer 4 Cure is one of 2012's finest hip-hop releases
Timothy Saccenti

El-P/Killer Mike

Fine Line Music Cafe, Thursday 7.5

Ten years ago, El-P dropped his brilliantly abrasive solo debut, Fantastic Damage, while Killer Mike's show-stealing verse on Outkast's "The Whole World" had him pegged as the next Dungeon Family member to rule Southern rap. If you told someone back then that both artists would become collaborators within a decade, then go on to deliver a one-two knockout for underground hip hop's hottest summer in ages, they'd either be dubiously skeptical or justifiably geeked. El-P's Cancer 4 Cure and Killer Mike's El-P-produced R.A.P. Music were released within a week of each other back in May, so it's understandable if the two albums already feel like inseparable companion pieces, even if they're each their own thing. Cancer 4 Cure and its prisoner-of-NYC atmosphere are delivered with a Ginsberg-via-Rakim relentlessness that ducks drones over Brooklyn, turns relationships into interrogations, and promises not to snitch on a domestic abuse victim's murderous revenge. Where that album's claustrophobic stress is done justice by El-P in fuzzed-out Iommi-on-synths mode, R.A.P. Music has the producer go classic head-knock Bomb Squad style. And nine years after Killer Mike called himself "new school Ice Cube" on Monster highlight "Rap Is Dead," he's finally got his AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted to batter down doors. 18+, $17-$20, 8 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis, 612.338.8100. —Nate Patrin


Varsity Theater, Thursday 7.5

Occupying a compelling no man's land on the IDM scene, the elegant instrumental works of Tycho (a.k.a. San Francisco's Scott Hansen) are too gently paced to qualify as dance-floor fodder, yet so brightly melodic it would be misleading to classify them as ambient background music. Tycho's latest full-length, Dive, continues Hansen's penchant for deftly blending subtly kinetic synth-driven wordless pop ("Coastal Brake") with more melancholy and down-tempo sonic explorations (the woozy and aptly titled "Adrift"). Which side of Hansen's musical personality he chooses to emphasize at the Varsity Theater should determine whether the crowd opts for slow, head-bobbing contemplation or more boisterous booty-shaking. With Onuinu. 18+, $15, 8 p.m., 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Rob Van Alstyne


Weesner Family Amphitheater, Friday 7.6

The baroque pop cabaret of DeVotchKa has been captivating Twin Cities audiences for years, and this outdoor show at the zoo will only enhance the worldly sound of the beloved Denver quartet. After touring extensively for their most recent effort, 100 Lovers, the band landed a high-profile opening slot for the Magnetic Fields throughout the month of April. They are hitting the road in July for a few headlining dates of their own, in between a show at Milwaukee's Summerfest, a Winnipeg Folk Festival performance, and opening up for the Avett Brothers at Red Rocks. Local folk-pop quartet Caroline Smith and the Goodnight Sleeps complement the headliners. All ages. $31-$43.50. 7 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Erik Thompson

Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit/Communist Daughter

First Avenue, Friday 7.6

Thoroughly Southern by both birth and abiding inspiration, Alabaman Jason Isbell invests his songs with a strong, Faulknerian literary streak and a sound derived from such Dixie keystones as Muscle Shoals, Memphis, Skynyrd, country, and bluegrass. Once part of the Drive-By Truckers' songwriting and guitar juggernaut, Isbell established the 400 Unit — named for a mental health institution — as a more versatile outfit equally adept at soaring, Southern rock anthems, honky-tonk, swamp crawls, and Muscle Shoals soul. Isbell's lyrics are strong on sense of place and characterization, often tackling contemporary twists on enduring themes like broken relationships, grief, alienation, and hard times. His latest solo album is last year's Here We Rest, the title adopted from an outdated Alabama state motto. Opening will be the local neo-folkie band Communist Daughter, whose new EP, Lions & Lambs, is due out July 10. More on them on page 37. 18+, $12-$14, 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Rick Mason



Grand Casino Hinckley, Saturday 7.7

It no longer feels like yesterday (it was 1999, people) that guitar impresario Carlos Santana kicked his career into a new gear with the collaborative album Supernatural. Sure, Rob Thomas had plenty to do with it, but the Santana legacy is alive in a way that has grown past a crusty classic-rock slate. In May, Santana released Shape Shifter, a mostly instrumental trek that'll be fuel for a whole lot of air-guitar riffing from the audience. This is the opening date of Santana's tour, so it should be a rapturous start. $35-$75, 9 p.m. 777 Lady Luck Dr, Hinckley; 800.745.3000. —Reed Fischer


The Young

Triple Rock Social Club, Sunday 7.8

The Austin, Texas, quartet the Young generated quite a buzz and delivered on the promise of incendiary live shows with their scorching 2010 debut record, Voyagers of Legend. The raucous group caught the attention of the legendary Matador Records, who happily signed the burgeoning band and just released their second LP, Dub Egg, in May. Their new songs build on the churning riffs and melodies featured in their earlier work, with a more urgent edge to the current material. With Ex Nuns and Wild Child. 18+, $7, 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Erik Thompson


Nicolay and the Hot at Nights

Honey, Monday 7.9

Over the past decade, Dutch-born producer Nicolay, a.k.a. Matthijs Rook, has been linked up with North Carolina MC Phonte for the Foreign Exchange, a project rooted in puristic hip hop yet tinted with down-tempo electronica and liquid R&B. But now, Nic, behind keyboards and synthesizers, is also making the rounds with Raleigh-based jazz trio the Hot at Nights, whose improv-heavy, occasionally near-psychedelic output is highlighted by Matt Douglas's sax stabs and Chris Boerner's eight-string ax-slinging. Following a short set of tracks from the Nights' beautifully recorded Nice Talk LP, the pair's recent shows have included material off everything from Nicolay's solo City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya to their collaborative Shibuya Session EP, not to mention covers of Sufjan Stevens's "Come On! Feel the Illinoise!" and Joe Jackson's New Wave smash "Steppin' Out." 18+, $15, 8 p.m. 205 E. Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.746.0304. —Mike Madden

Victor Wooten Band

Dakota, Monday 7.9 + Tuesday 7.10

Among the most acclaimed and versatile bassists working today, Victor Wooten has played everything from jazz to bluegrass, along with R&B, funk, rock, and fusions of all of the above. A longtime member of Béla Fleck's avant-everything Flecktones, Wooten has also played with the likes of Stanley Clarke, Branford Marsalis, Dave Matthews, and Bootsy Collins — in addition to leading his own groups and accumulating five Grammys along the way. As a bassist, Wooten is a virtuoso, creating incredible grooves blissfully crisscrossing and mixing up a limitless expanse of genres. These performances will focus mostly, but not exclusively, on new material due for release on two new albums this September. One, Words & Tones, will feature female vocalists on each track, including Me'shell Ndegeocello, Saundra Williams, Divinity Roxx, and Krystal Peterson. The other, Sword & Stone, will feature all-instrumental versions of the same material. His touring band includes a quintet of his usual, multi-tasking associates, who will constantly swap instruments (including horns), plus Peterson doing vocals. $40 at 7 p.m. $30 at 9 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Rick Mason


Le Tout-Puissant Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou

Cedar Cultural Center, Tuesday 7.10

"Le tout-puissant" means "almighty" en français, and that's not hyperbole in terms of Orchestre Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou, a 40-something-year-old sextet of polyrhythmic Afro-funk masters from the West African nation of Benin. The group's sound is a roiling mix of scintillating rhythms, blazing horns, stinging electric guitar, bubbling keyboards, emphatic call-and-response vocals, and grooves wicked enough to make James Brown proud. Rooted in the traditions of Benin's myriad ethnic groups and the rhythms and themes associated with Vodun's deities, the band is also influenced by the Agoudas (descendants of Brazilian slaves who returned to Africa in the late 19th century), Afro-Cuban music, Afrobeat from Fela's Nigeria, plus American soul and R&B. Even ardent fans of the group's original blasts of frenetic funk assumed the project's demise until its sudden resurgence, including its first tour outside Africa in 2009 and a new album, Club Cotonou, last year. $30-$35. 7:30 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason


Varsity Theater, Tuesday 7.10

Confidently straddling the worlds of adult alternative pop music and West Coast country, Lissie made a big splash in 2010 with her debut album, Catching a Tiger. With a brassy voice reminiscent of Neko Case, Lissie sounded comfortable belting out atop both slinky, rhythmically-oriented pop ("When I'm Alone with You") and sunny '60s girl-group salutes ("Stranger"). Largely in hiding since wrapping up two years of nonstop touring in August 2011, Lissie re-emerges tonight with her band ready to spotlight tunes from her forthcoming sophomore album, set to be recorded this fall and released next spring. 18+, $18, 8 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis, 612.604.0222. —Rob Van Alstyne

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to the top stories, events and offers around town.

  • Top Stories


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >