The best Twin Cities concerts this week: 2/20-2/26

The best Twin Cities concerts this week: 2/20-2/26

Plenty of shows going on in this last full week in February. Friday and Saturday prove to be the most busy. Friday, indie rock band Eels takes the First Avenue stage while psych poppers Ruby Suns play at the 7th Street Entry. ZZ Ward will be playing to a sold-out crowd at the Varsity and California band Why? mark their return at The Cedar Cultural Center the next day. And do not sleep on the E-40 (above) and Too $hort combo of classic West Coast rap Saturday night. Get out and make the most of February, it's not leap year, so you have like 8ish days or something.
Wednesday 2.20.2013

Toro Y Moi
Fine line Music Cafe

Having first gained blogosphere prominence as part of the chillwave craze of 2010, Chaz Bundick has spent the years since guiding his musical project Toro Y Moi away from that genre's sonic signifiers of lo-fidelity, murky synthesizers, and distorted faraway vocals. His latest album, Anything in Return, is a sleek and sexy slab of futuristic R&B that sparkles and thumps in equal measure. Bundick is growing into a confident and commanding singer, with his voice pushed to the fore more than ever before on jittery yet anthemic disco-pop nuggets like "Harm in Change." Thankfully past eccentric tendencies aren't entirely buffed away, as space-age slow jams like the woozy "So Many Details" make abundantly clear. With Sinkane, Dog Bite. 

18+, $15, 8 PM

International Guitar Night: Martin Taylor, Celso Machado and Solorazaf
Dakota Jazz Club
Stunning Guitarists
AA, $40 7 PM, $30 9 PM

Thursday 2.21.2013

Mary Gauthier
James J Hill Library

Like fellow Louisiana native Lucinda Williams, Mary Gauthier sings with a molasses drawl moist with glistening droplets of emotion and has an extraordinary ability to etch pain and hardship into noirish Southern gothic fables. There's a stark eloquence in her poetry ("Clouds are spreading like bruises on the evening sky") and sinewy elegance in her haunting alt-country music, usually streaked with fiddle and steel. Gauthier writes finely detailed, metaphor-rich tunes about hobos, death row, drinking, and life on the fringe, often using her own circumstances as raw material. Her last studio album, The Foundling, for instance, revolves around questions of identity arising from her adoption as an infant. On her latest, Live at Blue Rock, recorded in Texas, Gauthier leads a lean trio through a smart assortment of her most memorable tunes, delivered with fearless intimacy and the raw power of naked emotion. Trampled By Turtles' Dave Simonett will also perform --Rick Mason
AA, $20, 8 PM

Friday 2.22.2013

ZZ Ward with Martin Hartley
Varsity Theatre
Bluesy Attitude
16+, SOLD OUT, 7 PM

First Avenue

Now 17 years removed from his alt-rock radio hit "Novocaine for the Soul," Mark Oliver Everett and his chameleonic band Eels have the luxury of recording for a sizable and fervently devoted fan base that appears to be willing to follow them wherever Everett's peripatetic muse points next. On Eels' 10th album, Wonderful, Glorious, that predominantly means a rather schlocky retread of the garage-rock stomp that defined 2001's Souljacker, one of Eels' least memorable full-lengths. While Everett can still do hang-dog balladry better than almost anyone in the business -- countrified ditty "On the Ropes" is yet another classic -- his latest stabs at "rocking out" feel increasingly tired. That hardly matters for tonight's First Avenue gig, however, as Everett's notorious for throwing out the rulebook in concert. With Nicole Atkins. --Rob Van Alstyne
18+, $27.50, 8 PM 

Chris Koza and the Hopkins High School Orchestra
Hopkins High School
Local Music Spotlight
AA, $5 students and seniors, $7 adults, 7:30 PM

Ruby Suns

7th St. Entry
Originally an inspired collision of African rhythms and psych-pop melodies, the Ruby Suns have since morphed into a decidedly less world-music minded outfit -- unless you define the world as a European discotheque circa 1985. Sole band mainstay Ryan McPhun leaned on "it" indie producer of the moment Chris Coady (Grizzly Bear, Beach House, etc.) to similarly super-size and specify his sound on new album Christopher. In its best moments, like toast-to-Robyn album opener "Desert of Pop," the result is an irresistible sugar rush of synthetic sounds that would have dominated Reagan-era New Wave radio shows. With Painted Palms.  --Rob Van Alstyne
18+, $10-$12, 8 PM

Fire in the Northern Firs with Lovely Dark, Blue Sky Blackout and Hardcore Crayons
Electro Soundscapes
21+, $5, 9 PM

Saturday 2.23.2013

E-40 / Too $hort

E-40 was on the money when he said that his career defies logic: Since his start with the Click way back in 1990, E-40 independently rose to prominence thanks to his hustler sensibility and wholly distinct style. With a gigantic backlog of underground classics and mainstream successes, he's done the opposite of slow down as he approaches the wrong end of 40 years old. Since 2010's excellent pair of Revenue Retrievin' albums, which dropped simultaneously, he's continued that trend and even upped the ante to a dumbfounding five full-length albums in 2012 -- two with long-time co-consiprator and fellow West Coast ambassador Too $hort. $hort, the timeless dirty-rap pioneer, has continued to mine his signature freaky pimp raps to great effect. With Audio Perm and J-Fly. --Jack Spencer
21+, $25-$50, 10 PM

G-Eazy with Skizzy Mars and Kids Like Us
7th Street Entry 
New Orleans Beats

Julian Lynch

If more musicians studied ethnomusicology, a guy like Julian Lynch wouldn't be so rare. Currently working on his Ph.D. in anthropology at UW-Madison, Lynch is wildly open about the instrumentation, time signature, and feel of his avant-pop songs, but never loses a focused approach. His outcomes shift into jazz, acoustic psychedelia, synthesizer-based trippines, and brassy world music. In all cases, familiarity creeps below the surface of songs awash in the cleverness and harmonies one used to hear in Animal Collective's early records, and perhaps a few by Crosby, Stills & Nash. Not yet sold? Just look at how his albums score on Pitchfork, you snobs. So far, this is his only announced show to promote his latest Underwater Peoples-based full-length, titled Lines. With Web of Sunsets and DJ Soft Abuse.--Reed Fischer
AA, $8, 10 PM.

Why? with Astronautalis and Sarah Winters
The Fine Line Music Cafe
Fiercely Chopsy
AA, $15, 6 PM

Red Baraat
Cedar Cultural Center

Dubbing its raucous, teeming sound Brooklyn bhangra, Red Baraat is a ferocious dhol'n'brass octet that mashes together the brass band tradition of Northern India, jazz, dub, ska, hip hop, the rousing spirit of New Orleans's funkified brass movement, and contemporary urban attitude. Sunny Jain, who leads the band and plays dhol (a handheld, conga-like Punjabi drum), played cutting-edge jazz with such heavyweights as Vijay Iyer and Rudresh Muhanthappa before deciding to stir crowds into sweaty furies with RB's highly contagious stew in 2007. The group's second studio album, Shruggy Ji, is a joyous maelstrom of muscular horns (six strong, driven by sousaphone and bari sax), marauding improvisations, complex rhythms, and ragged, adrenalin-laced vocals. It's celebratory music that's sneakily cerebral, equipped to ignite a party on any continent. --RIck Mason
AA, $15, 8 PM

First Avenue
Though not one of the hallowed Big Four, Testament have certainly been more reliable over their three decades than Metallica, Anthrax, Slayer, or Megadeth -- umpteen lineup changes notwithstanding. Since releasing 1987's The Legacy and the next year's The New Order -- one of the greatest freshman-sophomore punches in metal history -- the Berkeley-founded thrashers have never stumbled. Last summer's Dark Roots of Earth, the band's 10th album overall, might not add any new ridges to the band's legacy -- riffs are stacked on top of riffs on top of riffs, while tempos rarely dip below 140 BPM -- but the thing has its moments. "Rise Up" was one of the most confident metal anthems to emerge in 2012, and Alex Skolnick's fretboard-charring solos on closer "Last Stand for Independence" pretty much typify why dude is worshiped by every last Guitar World subscriber. With Overkill, Flotsam and Jetsam, and 4ARM. --Mike Madden 
18+, $25, 5 PM 

Aby Wolf: "Wolf Lords" CD Release Show with Lizzo, Young Baby and Demographics
7th Street Entry
Groove Oriented 
18+, $8/$10, 10 PM

STNNG Release Show/10 Year Anniversary Party with Robot Comic, Vampire Hands, Gay Witch Abortion, Buildings, Tight Phantomz and Weakwick
Turf Club
In Your Face
21+, $5, 8 PM
Sunday 2.24.2013

Phox and Foreign Fields with We Are The Willows 
7th Street Entry
Electro Folk
18+, $8, 7 PM

Dropkick Murphys
Myth with Old Man Markley, Jim Lockley and the Solemn Sun
Rowdy Celtic Rock
AA, $29.50, 6:30 PM

Monday 2.25.2013

Dead Man Winter 
Intimate Acoustic
21+, SOLD OUT, 7:30 PM

Mouse on Mars with Dreamweapon 
7th Street Entry
Free Flow Electric Dance 
18+, $20, 7:30 PM

Tuesday 2.26.2013
Habib Koité & Eric Bibb

Dakota Jazz Club
Guitarists Habib Koité and Eric Bibb met a decade or so ago while recording the album Mali to Memphis, which details the numerous musical links between the West African nation and American blues. Malian Koité, steeped in tradition but also cognizant of contemporary pop, and Bibb, a blues- and folk-influenced New Yorker long based in Sweden, reconnected in the Malian capital to record the just-released Brothers in Bamako, and subsequently set off on this U.S. tour. The album features tunes by each plus a handful written together, including one in tribute to Timbuktu, the cultural center only last month liberated from repressive Islamic extremists. But what's really special about their collaboration is the way each's soulful voice naturally sidles into the other, and how the guitars and banjos elegantly entwine.  --Rick Mason
$35 at 7 p.m. $25 at 9 PM.

Gotta have more noise? Check the City Pages Concert Calendar. for more shows not mentioned. And check out our entire Calendar section here

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