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Janelle Monae, Matt & Kim, and more

Let loose with Matt & Kim in the Mainroom

WEDNESDAY 9.22

Matt & Kim

First Avenue

For a scrappy DIY pop duo, Matt and Kim have enjoyed some pretty substantial success.  Partially thanks to inescapable breakout hit "Daylight" (and partially thanks to a whole lot of web exposure), the pair are everywhere right now—being featured in TV shows and commercials, getting some radio love, and playing at music festivals all over the world. Onstage, they sometimes seem a little baffled by their own popularity, but the confusion only serves to add to the pair's already considerable charm. Their songs are fizzy and sweet, and almost all of them are relentlessly catchy; your brain will have a hard time picking out which chorus it wants to get stuck on. Adding in an impressively long and diverse repertoire of covers would seem like crowd-pleasing overkill if it weren't for the band's instantly disarming likability. It's obvious they're having a blast, and it makes for a live show that promises a gigantic grin with every ticket sold. With So So Glos and Birthday Suits. All ages. $15/$18 at the door. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775 —Ian Traas

Suuns

7th St. Entry

Suuns hail from Montreal, but the starched, pensive sound the quartet showcases on debut EP Zeroes—pinched synthesizers, metronomic drumbeats, electronic textures, gristly yet mannered guitar pyrotechnics—feel distinctly cosmopolitan, an unlikely composite of influences that succeeds despite its obviousness. (Think Radiohead cross-pollinated with Walking With Thee-era Clinic and vintage Krautrock.) While singer/guitarist Ben Shemie, guitarist/bassist Joe Yarmush, drummer Liam O'Neill, and keyboardist Max Henry hold a strong melodic hand, they refuse to place all their cards on the table at once, instead feeding out conceptual strips and streamers that focus the attention more than a compositional full-court press might. There's a nocturnal intimacy and honesty to Suuns' bleak pulsations; the band gives voice and shape to the magical desperation so common to the twilight hours, when emotions seem, impossibly, capable of making anything happen. If they take the stage after 11:52 p.m., watch out. With Land of Talk. 18+. $10. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ray Cummings

THURSDAY 9.23

Suckers

Varsity Theater

As an off-the-wall solo artist, beardo-pop oddball Quinn Walker was doing pretty well for himself prior to launching Suckers a few years back with some pals; his 2008 double album Laughter's An Asshole/Lion Land was promising, even if it was a couple acid freaks short of a Burning Man Festival. Debut Wild Smile, which saw release this past summer, builds on the template the foursome established on last year's eponymous EP: twisty-turvy pop-rock that's hard enough to escape the "whimsical indie-rock" tag but weird enough that it probably won't pop up in a national advertising campaign anytime soon. In other words: Come for the Romper Room toy-piano hooks and post-Darkness falsetto quailing, stay for the stolid melodic girding that supports those elements. Opening for Menomena. 18+. $15. 7 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Ray Cummings

Janelle Monáe

First Avenue

Janelle Monáe's Eraserhead hairdo and gracefully peppy retro-soul hit "Tightrope" (with Big Boi) turned out to be mere tickets to the amusement park that is her debut album, The ArchAndroid, an Afro-Futurist psychedelic pop opera that doesn't live up to its ambitions because nothing ever could. As attuned to Kate Bush as to Lauryn Hill, to Funkadelic as to Lily Allen, the 24-year-old Atlanta R&B diva has made such a rich new funk—from the ragga-like "Dance or Die" to the School of Seven Bells-like "Wondaland"—that she was a natural to cover Prince's "Let's Go Crazy," with Prince in the audience, at this summer's BET Awards. The album has too many orchestral digressions and aimless shows of modulation (think Stereolab! The Musical), but expect them to fall away live, where she's fantastic, paying tribute to James Brown with dance moves as way-out as everything else about her. Opening for Of Montreal. All ages. $25. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Peter S. Scholtes

FRIDAY 9.24

Global Roots Festival: Meklit Hadero and M.anifest

Cedar Cultural Center

Friday's finale of the Cedar's Global Roots Festival will feature a pair of U.S.-based artists with African roots. San Francisco singer/songwriter Meklit Hadero was born in Ethiopia and raised in Brooklyn. Her rangy, glowing voice suggests an enchanting cross among Tracy Chapman, Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, and Joan Armatrading, while her music is an infectious jazz/folk/blues/classical hybrid that also ties in influences from around the world. On On A Day Like This, she follows a knockout version of the Anthony Newley show standard "Feeling Good" with a lovely traditional Ethiopian tune and her own blazing funk-jazz workout "Soleil Soleil." Rapper M.anifest, a.k.a. Kwame Tsikata, is a native of Ghana who has made a name for himself on the Twin Cities hip-hop scene with a polished style and multi-cultural references that, as he says, "represent African with a spectacular street vernacular." All ages. $20. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

SATURDAY 9.25

John Prine

 

Opheum Theatre

If John Prine had never released another album after the now-classic pair that kicked off his career in the early 1970s, contemporary artists would still be scrambling to cover his songs, wired as they are with sharply perceptive and enduring social commentary, wicked humor, and withering cynicism. So the current Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows gathers the likes of Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket, Lambchop, Deer Lick, the Drive-By Truckers, and the Avett Brothers (whose "Spanish Pipedream" has been all over the radio) covering prime Prine nuggets with appropriately gritty, reverent irreverence. Prine, in fact, has been a prolific songwriter (although issuing no new songs since 2005's Fair & Square), turning out multiple gems through the years. And now the genuine arty-fact is touring hard on the heels of In Person & On Stage, on which he runs down more than a dozen of the classics with assistance from friends such as Emmylou Harris, Iris DeMent, and Sara Watkins. Bassist Dave Jacques and guitar ace Jason Wilber will be along with Prine as usual. $52-$61.50. 8 p.m. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason

Laura Veirs & the Hall of Flames

Cedar Cultural Center

Playing music flushed with the sweet haze of midsummer—nature at its ripest—amid the bleakness of a Minnesota winter is what confronted Laura Veirs and her Hall of Flames on their visit last March. Veirs was then ripe herself (giving birth to son Tennessee in April) and undoubtedly knew what she was dealing with, as a former Minnesota resident (while attending Carleton College). Anyway, this is a more appropriate time of year for the material on July Flame, because Minnesota still retains a little of summer's warm glow, but more significantly, harvest time underscores the bittersweet reality of all that lush growth's ultimate fragility. Veirs's pop-folk tunes bloom amid arrangements that find an exquisite hazy-lazy balance on Flame, achieving a quiet intensity akin to the unbridled fertility of the July landscape. Openers Chandra and Leigh Watson's sisterly harmonies negotiate Southern soul tempered by sizable injections of vintage pop, country, noirish folk-rock, blues, and gospel. On their second album, Talking To You, Talking To Me, songs like "Midnight" probe some timeless locale somewhere between Memphis, the Brill Building, and Laurel Canyon, their precipitous harmonies riding billowing organ swells and a stinging electric guitar. Elsewhere, they surf a bossa nova wave, flirt with indie rock, and channel Carole King on "Calling Out." Additional support Led To Sea is the musical alter-ego of Alex Guy, who plays viola and violin, and is often a member of Veirs's Flames. LTS's first full-length album, Into The Darkening Sky, sports elegant, moody chamber pop that oozes and drifts over quirky, atmospheric shoals. Squally outbursts downshift into off-center meditations among the strings and peppery percussion, while Guy muses poetically about ghosts and rust. All ages. $14. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

SUNDAY 9.26

Those Darlins

7th St. Entry

Cowpunk rather than alternative country, rowdy rather than merely hard-bitten, this singing trio (plus drummer) breathes the same blissful mix of nostalgia, empowerment, and bad-girl appeal fueling, say, roller derby. Like the God Damn Doo Wop Band, they have a pinch of girl-group in them, but sound more like three lower-registered Holly Golightlys twanging away about regretful behavior, defending Mama, and nice boys who really should have known better. They're at work on a follow-up to their 2009 self-titled debut on Oh Wow Dang Records, but in true punk spirit are touring behind a 7-inch single, "Nightjogger," which edges into Joan Jett territory. With Turbo Fruits and Henry Wagons. 18+. $10. 8 p.m. 701 1st Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Peter S. Scholtes

Gucci Mane

Epic

Atlanta's Gucci Mane is proof that a certain kind of mindlessness—not having much to say about life as people live it, for instance—can free other parts of the brain for genius. In fact, you get the sense from his songs' brightly painted gangster hedonism that anything autobiographical is just coincidence or a reflection of whatever motions he went through (including real jail time) before returning to his healthiest addiction: making free-associative rhymes along various themes, street or otherwise—vampires, the word "gross," the color yellow. In the nine short months since he released his rap smash "Lemonade" (a riff on all things lemony and mustard-colored inspired by sales of the title drink spiked with codeine syrup, with a chorus sung by children to the tune of Flo & Eddie's "Keep It Warm"), Gucci has issued a half-dozen mixtapes, all filled with tracks that are like song-length versions of Lil Wayne verses (so be warned). With a marble-mouthed drawl that could be a hypnotized MF Doom, he's all impossible achievements (a love affair with money that crosses over into the literal, like "Panama" with the Geico cash-with-googly-eyes) and insults ("I don't want your girlfriend, homie, but my b**** might"). He sandwiches this Minneapolis date on his tour itinerary one night after Mobile, Alabama, and one night before New York, two days before the release of his hotly anticipated third major-label album,

 

The Appeal: Georgia's Most Wanted. 18+. $30-$60. 10 p.m. 110 N. Fifth St., Minneapolis; 612.332.3742. —Peter S. Scholtes

MONDAY 9.27

Sea Wolf (solo acoustic)

Turf Club

The parenthetical clarification means that this is a show by Alex Brown Church, the leader and only constant member of L.A. indie folkies Sea Wolf. The group scored a modest hit in 2007 with "You're a Wolf," woozy chamber pop from Leaves in the River, a full-length debut mindful of the Shins, Bright Eyes, the Left Banke, the Zombies, and a campfire sing-out behind the conservatory. Church's sometimes breathy and slurry vocals coupled with his fondness for Romantic and folkloric imagery can test one's tolerance for preciousness, while his best tunes satisfy one's hunger for smart prettiness. There were more bells and violas, pounding pianos, and nods toward urgency on 2009's White Water, White Bloom, all of which gave a few cuts the second-hand glow of Arcade Embers. But there were some winners too, such as "Turn the Dirt Over," Church's second memorable song about dirt. He's touring with two like-minded openers, Patrick Park and Sera Cahoone. 12+. $12. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Dylan Hicks

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miles
First Avenue

701 1st Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

612-338-8388

www.first-avenue.com


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