The best Twin Cities concerts this week: 3/20-3/26

The best Twin Cities concerts this week: 3/20-3/26

While the rest of the nation is thawing out for spring, plenty of touring acts are headed to the Twin Cities this week. Martha Wainwright makes a stop at the Cedar Cultural Center Thursday, while Glasgow natives, Frightened Rabbit, play the Varsity Theater. Saturday, L.A.-based band Local Natives returns to First Avenue, and the Fitzgerald Theater welcomes Low. The Xcel Energy Center hosts Rihanna on Sunday and while Wiping out Thousands headline the 7th Street Entry.

Wednesday 3.20.2013

Darwin Deez with Caged Animals and Strange Relations
7th Street Entry
Wonky Beats
18+, $10/12, 8 PM

Major Lazer with Lunice and Paul Devro
First Avenue Mainroom
Future Dancehall
18+, $20/$22, 8 PM

Thursday 3.21.2013

Martha Wainwright with Chris Koza
Cedar Cultural Center
From her mother, Kate McGarrigle, Martha Wainwright inherited an acute sense of melody, a certain way of expression, and a fine, reedy vocal timbre. From her father, Loudon, she inherited a penchant for soul-baring brutal honesty. Loudon slathers his with humor. Martha's is couched in Kate's artistry. But both can be unsettling, even jarring. On Martha's striking Come Home to Mama, her first album of original material in four years, she grapples with Kate's death, her apparently fragile marriage, other fractured relationships, her sometimes overwhelming sadness, worries about her child's future, and other harrowing subjects. She also covers Kate's final song, "Proserpina," a mythology-based look at mother-daughter relationships. But the album is far from maudlin. Instead it's a compelling expression of powerful emotions paired with an intriguing, idiosyncratic blend of folk, pop, and rock. Ciba Matto's Yuka Honda's production lends a cool theatricality to the proceedings, enhanced by support from such ace musicians as guitarist Nels Cline, cellist Erik Friedlander, and Sean Lennon on bass. Local singer-songwriter Chris Koza will open.  --Rick Mason
AA, $15-$18. 7:30 PM

Electric Six with Mark Mallman and Carroll
First Avenue Mainroom
Driving Rock
18+, $12, 8 PM

Gospel Gossip with Ex-Nuns, Flavor Crystals and Hollow Boys
7th Street Entry
Dreamy Reverb
18+, $5/$7, 8 PM

Frightened Rabbit with The Twilight Sad
Varsity Theater
Scottish Rock
18+, $17-$30 (SOLD OUT), 8 PM 

France Camp with Ever Ending Kicks, Soft Releases and Diva 93
Turf Club
Pop Melodies 
21+, $7, 9 PM

Soul Rumination and Cait Leary
Rhythmic Fingerpicking
21+, FREE, 9 PM

Friday 3.22.2013

Starfucker with Blackbird Blackbird
The Varsity Theater
With a too-hot-for-the-FCC moniker like Starfucker, Portland musician Joshua Hedges clearly isn't too interested in courting the mainstream, even as his highly danceable indie-pop continues to evolve in a direction that would appear to make Phoenix-like success a distinct possibility. Starfucker's recently unveiled third album, Miracle Mile, is the first time Hedges has opted to record with his touring bandmates rather than go it alone in the studio, resulting in a slightly more visceral and full-bodied sound still strictly in keeping with the razor-sharp synth-dominated dance numbers of 2011's excellent Reptilians. Hedges's talk-sung tenor is passable at best (and seemingly always intentionally low in the mix), as are his largely pedestrian lyrics, but it hardly matters when the music behind him is so propulsive and undeniably infectious. With Blackbird Blackbird. -Rob Van Alstyne
18+, $13-$15, 8 PM

Calvin Love with IS/IS and Robust Worlds
Turf Club 
Sonic and Dark
21+, $8, 9 PM

Blues Harmonica Blowout with Mark Hummel, Corkey Siegel and Billy Boy Arnold
Dakota Jazz Club
Harmonica Masters
AA, , $25, 7 PM and 9 PM

G. Love & Special Sauce with John Fullbright
First Avenue Mainroom
Back Road Blues
18+, $25, 8 PM

Como Avenue Jug Band with Martin Devaney and Brian Laidlaw & the Family Trade
Acoustic Americana
21+, $5, 9 PM

Hope Thrives: With the Ben Johnson Band
Fine Line
Proceeds benefit Faith's Lodge
AA, $25-75, 8 PM


Saturday 3.23.2013

David Crowder: With Stetson & Cia
The Varsity Theater
Christian Rock
AA,  $25-$40, 6:30 PM

Katy Vernon, Meteor Boys and Slush Puppies
Turf Club
Folk Vocals
21+, $5, 8 PM

Local Natives
First Avenue
Arguably the biggest indie success story of 2010, Los Angelino quartet Local Natives won raves worldwide for the tribal-accented rhythms and precise harmonies that powered their excellent debut album, Gorilla Manor. The long-awaited follow-up, Hummingbird, finally dropped just two months ago, nearly three and a half years after Gorilla burst onto the scene. Recorded with the assistance of the National's Aaron Dessner in the production booth (and on myriad instruments), Hummingbird finds the instrument-swapping group moving away from the triumphant ferocity of their debut and toward a more downbeat and subtle sound. While less initially appetizing than Gorilla ManorHummingbird ultimately proves just as irresistible, making up in songwriting consistency and poignant lyricism what it lacks in wild-eyed dynamism. With Superhumanoids.  --Rob Van Alstyne
18+, $20-$22 (SOLD OUT), 8 PM

Strange Relations EP Release with Prissy Clerks and Phantom Vibrations
Kitty Cat Klub
Melancholic Pop
21+, $3, 9 PM

Fitzgerald Theater
Minimalist Arrangements
AA, $27.50, 8 PM

See Also:
Low's road to The Invisible Way: The influential Minnesota band release a milestone 10th full-length studio album

Sunday 3.24.2013

Ana Moura
Dakota Jazz Club
Fado, the ancient, bittersweet Portuguese folk music, has been enjoying a resurgence of popularity recently, and Ana Moura is one of its key contemporary artists. The combination of her rich, dusky voice and ability to convey complex emotions with an extensive palette of vocal feints, sighs, and elegant filigrees is perfect for expressing saudade, the ambivalent, longing spirit at the heart of fado. "It's so sad, this joy of mine/Oh, it's so joyful, this deep sadness" she sings, in Portuguese, her passion laced with surprising alacrity on the title track of her groundbreaking new album, Desfado. While sticking to the traditional essence of fado and employing veteran fado musicians Ângelo Freire and Pedro Soares, Moura nudges fado into the 21st century, relying on younger songwriters, U.S. pop producer Larry Klein, and an array of L.A. studio vets, plus guest shots by Herbie Hancock and Tim Ries. She also sings a handful of tunes in English, including a fine cover of Joni Mitchell's saudadesque "A Case of You." Live, Freire and Soares will lead the Portuguese quintet backing Moura.  --Rick Mason
$40, 7 PM

Wiping out Thousands with Blackstone Rangers and Father You See Queen
7th Street Entry
Haunting Vocals
18+, $5, 7 PM

Rihanna with ASAP Rocky
Xcel Energy Center
Pop Superstar
AA, $39.50-$125, 6:30 PM

Monday 3.25.2013

KMFDM with Legion Within, Chant and Czar
First Avenue Mainroom
Ultra-Heavy Beat
18+, $22, 7 PM

Tuesday 3.26.2013

First Avenue Mainroom

After rightfully breaking through to wider recognition on the strength of their excellent third album, Set Yourself on Fire, in 2005, elegant Canadian indie-pop quintet Stars seemed to slowly lose steam over the course of two uneven follow-up efforts. Last year's The North thankfully reversed the trend, with nary a dud among its dozen tracks. The boy/girl lead vocal combo of Torquil Campbell and Amy Milan continues to play the roles of fire (Campbell) and ice (Milan) well, while multi-instrumentalists and songwriting anchors Chris Seligman and Patrick Cranley provide a solidly varied sonic landscape for their voices. Highlights include the New Wave-nodding dancefloor number "The Theory of Relativity" and the heartbreaking orchestral ballad title track. While the band's last stop at First Avenue was a somewhat lackluster and poorly attended affair plagued by sound problems, the band seems to be riding high at present. With Milo Greene, Said the Whale.  --Rob Van Alstyne
18+, $20, 7 PM

Lucy Rose with Holly Newsom and Claire De Lune
7th Street Entry
Solo Songbirds
18+, $8/$10, 8 PM

Nanci Griffith
Dakota, TUESDAY 3.26 + Wednesday 3.27 + THURSDAY 3.28

Texas country-folk troubadour Nanci Griffith is back for a tripleheader at the Dakota after being forced to cancel her local dates last fall due to slow recovery from hand surgery. Presumably restored to picking health, Griffith, it is hoped, will not be referring to her hands when she laces into "Hell No, I'm Not Alright," the surprisingly peevish anthem that sets the tone on her snarky recent album, Intersection. In contrast to her earlier, often wistful, Lone Star gothic work (like "Love at the Five and Dime"), Griffith's last two albums have more often focused on topical issues with a far sharper, even bitter edge, her singing and music more sinewy than ever. Most of her recent songs weave together personal angst and social commentary, tackling racism, the death penalty, venal politicians, economic hardship. But she still ends Intersection on a high note: a bluegrass romp through Loretta Lynn's "High on a Mountain Top." Opening and backing Griffith will be the Kennedys -- Pete and Maura -- who met long ago while playing with Griffith and have become prolific artists in their own right. --Rick Mason
AA,  $50-$60, 7 PM 

Where I'm Going:
Darwin Deez @ 7th Street Entry

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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