Lykki Li, Deer Tick, the Civil Wars, and more

Merrill Garbus brings her powerful pipes to First Ave
Anna MCampbell


First Avenue on Saturday 11.12

Merrill Garbus is an avant-pop collagist who holds together the wildly eclectic pieces of her idiosyncratic sound with her powerful, elastic voice, which itself has inspired diverse comparisons to Aretha Franklin, Bjork, Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, and Yoko Ono. As tUnE-yArDs, Garbus (assisted by bassist Nate Brenner) wields a ukulele, kitchen-pantry percussion, loops, and other digital gizmos to create a careening, intricately and quirkily textured mash of rhythms and melodies that ricochet from pop to hip-hop to folk to Africa to Jamaica and way beyond. W h o k i l l, tUnE-yArDs' sophomore album, is overtly eccentric but has a purposeful underlying logic, referencing everything from doo-wop to Afrobeat and avant-noise while addressing sex, murder, politics, and cultural conundrums. It's unique, even visionary, and already has stirred album-of-the-year buzz. Opening will be the Twin Cities' Howler and Pat Jordache, who used to collaborate with Garbus before she moved to Oakland. 18+. $15. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Rick Mason

The Civil Wars

State Theatre on Wednesday 11.9

The conflict at the core of the Civil Wars' debut, Barton Hollow, is an obsessive yearning for what's just out of reach, usually revolving around love that's doomed, slipping away, unattainable, or fundamentally debilitating. The songs of the Wars duo—Californian Joy Williams and Alabaman John Paul White—are permeated with haunting tension. Their slow, spacious ballads are awash in quiet desperation. Even the realized relationships are fraught with ambiguity such as in "Poison & Wine": "I don't love you but I always will." Williams and White traipse through this emotional minefield enveloped in skittish close harmonies and a mostly acoustic, country-folk sound with pop leanings. Catharsis comes only from the title track, a raw, howling blues arising from an apparent violent release of that mounting tension. Opening will be Milo Greene, a California band whose complex harmonies suggest '60s folk-pop with an indie tilt. All ages. $20-$23. 8 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.339.7007. —Rick Mason

Lucinda Williams

First Avenue on Wednesday 11.9

A lifetime of hard experience still resides in the soulful cracks and crevices of Lucinda Williams's expressive drawl. But the emotional tumult that fueled many of her songs turned to bliss when she found true romance with Minnesota native Tom Overby. The couple married onstage at First Avenue two years ago, and Williams now returns to the scene of the nuptials, band in tow, following a trio of solo gigs at the Dakota last February. Her latest album, appropriately dubbed Blessed, emphatically disproves fears that happiness would derail Williams's muse or her instinctive Americana blend of blues, country, rock, and folk. Genuine love songs like "Kiss Like Your Kiss" and "Sweet Love" do turn up on Blessed, but so do the lacerating "Buttercup" and songs with a wider emotional and philosophical range than Williams had previously tackled. With Blake Mills. 18+. $30. 7:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Rick Mason


Varsity Theater on Thursday 11.10

In a less musically fragmented era, Aaron Bruno's face would be plastered on magazine covers everywhere. (Remember magazines?) As AWOLNATION, Bruno writes huge, Oxycontin-addictive hybrid-pop anthems that are all but stamped "designed for mass consumption." Clichés, ardor, and over-earnestness abound; there are blistering industrial-napalm sprees and sensitive acoustic interludes and hep beatsmithery and Gorrillaz imitations. That it's all totally convincing and heartfelt augurs well for this project's future, but there's something sad about a world in which Deadmau5 is feted to death and a shoot-for-the-moon debut like Megalithic Symphony barely rates a blink from the culture at large. With Middle Class Rut and Twin Atlantic. All ages. $15. 5 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Ray Cummings

Pert Near Sandstone (CD-release show)

Cabooze on Friday 11.11

Given its polar clime, Minnesota wouldn't seem to be bluegrass territory. But it is, as evidenced by Pert Near Sandstone, the new-timey string band whose adept, breakneck picking rivals any of their Southern kin while adding their own contemporary spin. With this show the Pert Near boys will be celebrating the release of their fifth album, Paradise Hop, offering a fresh selection of originals plus a couple of traditional tunes given Sandstone treatment. On "All Night Long" that means a new final verse with a wry bit of modern slang from Nate Sipe. The new tunes boast the exuberant drive and rousing energy of a timeless, serious picking session. But their lyrics often deal with 21st-century angst, like that of the frazzled character in J. Lenz and Kevin Kniebel's "Save Me." There are some local references, too, like the 35W collapse in Sipe's "Sad When That Great Bridge Went Down," giving some Northern specificity to Southern mountain music. With Rumpke Mountain Boys and the Union Suits. 18+. $10/$12 at the door. 8:30 p.m. 917 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.6425. —Rick Mason

Shonen Knife

7th St. Entry on Friday 11.11

Shonen Knife had been preaching the puke-cute punk gospel for a good decade before Kurt Cobain started wearing their T-shirts. Members have come and gone over the years, but this button-adorable Japanese pop group's modus operandi remains (blessedly) unchanged. And who can blame them? If your forte is writing crisp, diamond-hard three-chord songs about concrete animals that come to life and rocket trips and scarfing down chocolate and secretly being a cat, why fix what isn't broken? Earlier this year, they cut a cover album titled Osaka Ramones, which pretty much says it all. With Heavy Cream and the Blind Shake. 18+. $12/$14 at the door. 9 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Ray Cummings

Deer Tick

Triple Rock Social Club on Saturday 11.12

For their fourth album, Divine Providence, Rhode Island's Deer Tick downplay the folk and country influences that informed some of their previous work in favor of skuzzy rock 'n' roll for young alcoholics and the people who loan them money. The results are mixed, sometimes too second-hand even by the honorable standards of keep it simple, stupid. "Main Street" takes its beat from "Be My Baby" and assembles its chorus ably enough from Rolling Stones titles, but nicks everything else from Paul Westerberg; it's like a four-minute request to put on an old Replacements record. On the other hand, "Miss K." stands with some of leader John McCauley's better songs, and one suspects that the rowdier tunes (the Ramones-y "Let's All Go to the Bar," for instance) will do the job in their natural environment. With Guards and Thomas Hardy. 18+. $16. 8 p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Dylan Hicks

Lykke Li

First Avenue on Sunday 11.13

Lykke Li has said in interviews that her art is about escaping reality, but that's hard to believe given that her music looks to document the heartache and giddy joy of being in love. The little-girl innocence that appeared on debut Youth Novels has almost entirely disappeared as Li has given in to her sex drive, caring less about romance than lust. But even if the subject matter is purely physical, the diminutive Swedish singer can flip between pop-kissing exuberance and wallflower introversion with a voice that feels equally suited to both—it just depends on what mood she's in. She smolders when she restrains herself and shines when she stretches out, so her audience wins in every case. With First Aid Kit. 18+. $25. 7 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8388. —Ian Traas

Use Current Location

Related Location

First Avenue

701 1st Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55403


Sponsor Content


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

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >