The Dead Weather, Neil Young, and more: Critics' Picks

The Dead Weather bring their swampy blues-rock to First Avenue
courtesy of the artist


The Dead Weather

First Avenue

The Dead Weather is sometimes passed off as (just) another Jack White project, one where he gets to sink even deeper into the swampy blues-rock that he's built his name on. But without the pop aspirations of the White Stripes or the classicist bent of the Raconteurs, the Dead Weather has filled the gaps in its filthy, wiry sound with sex. Get rid of any idea that involves "making love"; the band has a motor that runs on lust, covered in sin-black leather and bite marks. White can't take full credit for the band's coital appeal—that prize belongs to Alison Mosshart, whose involvement in the Kills has positioned her as a darkly alluring femme fatale, an image that she's brought wholesale to the Dead Weather. Mosshart's vocals slide between soul-woman wails and 1-900 breathy come-ons, ringed with enough violence to make you believe that a black eye comes with every one-night stand. White still has his finger on rock's pulse, but it's Mosshart who's making that pulse race. With Harlem. 18+. $32. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Ian Traas


Neil Young

Northrop Auditorium

When Los Lobos wrapped up their recent Minnesota Zoo concert with an electrifying version of Neil Young's classic "Cinnamon Girl," the scorching energy wasn't just attributable to the brilliance of the band on stage. Los Lobos had tapped the inimitable, protean spirit of Young, who at 64 remains a marvel of uncompromising passion, relevance, and vitality. Young has plenty of laurels (and pungent reminders of Laurel Canyon) to rest on if he was so inclined. But he's not. So, yeah, he'll do a languid, acoustic run through "Harvest" or something, but he'll also crank up his electric guitar and tear into "Down By the River," shooting gnarly, distorted riffs off the wall, making it just as desperate and transcendent as it was 40 years ago. This will be a solo performance by Young, by the way, mixing up acoustic and electric tunes, a few on piano and even pump organ (likely "After the Gold Rush"). It's been dubbed the Twisted Road Tour, after the forthcoming album of the same name Young recorded with producer extraordinaire Daniel Lanois. Young reportedly will perform a half-dozen or so of the new tunes, most of which at least one reviewer has already declared instant classics. Believe him. With Bert Jansch. $57-$166. 8 p.m. 84 Church St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.625.6600. —Rick Mason

Joan Armatrading

The Cedar

Don't be misled by the venue switch from the Fitz, the cricket sounds greeting her latest album, or the tidbit that Joan Armatrading once again played everything on it except the (fantastic) drums: This Charming Life is the West Indian U.K. singer's return to big-rock '80s "Me Myself I" form, from the step-into-the-sunshine harmonies of the title track to the stadium-disco thump of "Two Tears," a kiss-off to an abuser. Armatrading's overwhelming voice, so tremulously emotional on verses, so brightly plain on choruses, remains its own sensual pop thing—she embodies the spirit of the Equals as much as that of Joni Mitchell, which might be why her soulfulness is hard to place. She's just as personal in the detailed bluesy-ness of her ax, and in the sonic touches—Siamese guitars, day-o backup vocals—that keep an anthem as earnest as "People Who Win" from feeling pat. Live, she brings a band, so expect favorites from nearly 40 years of folk/jazz/reggae/blues/rock/pop/new wave, and bone up on 2003's Love and Affection: Classics (1975-1983) if it's all new to you. $39-$42. 7:30 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Peter S. Scholtes


Warren G


Warren G created the template of the rapper who phrases like a singer among singers who phrase like rappers, so laid-back that he's the last thing you remember about his biggest hit—though even there he was something new. The best you can say about the title single off 1994's Regulate... G Funk Era is it introduced Nate Dogg (a bridge to Montell Jordan and D'Angelo) while lending cool points to its sample source, Michael McDonald's "I Keep Forgettin' (Every Time You're Near)." Yet the chilling wonder of the album lays in its lesser or non-hits anyway: the vivid, stoned melancholy of "Do You See," "This Is the Shack," and the ostensibly upbeat "This D.J.," whose easy catchiness was a quieter variation on Snoop and Dre's blissed-out nihilism (to which G contributed as Long Beach friend and fam). Five solo albums later, G's latest, last year's The G Files, finds him indie (released on TTL) and as tuneful as ever on tracks such as "Masquerade" and "Hold On," where he sings as well as anyone on his deep guest list, which now includes both Doggs and Raekwon. With Heatbox, Toki Wright, and DJ ApplewJews. 18+. $20-$30. 10 p.m. 110 N. Fifth St., Minneapolis; 612.332.3742. —Peter S. Scholtes



Minnesota Zoo Weesner Amphitheater

The cover art of 1372 Overton Park features a photo of its perpetrators, the Memphis band Lucero, one barefoot, strolling across a street, obviously emulating the cover of Abbey Road. Except the clever Lucero are less likely to be paying tribute to the Beatles than to Booker T and the MGs, who once walked in similar fashion across the cover of McLemore Avenue, a few blocks south of Overton Park and the locale of iconic Stax Studios. The reference is notable because Lucero infuse their raucous, trademark blend of punkish rock 'n' roll and country with a fresh dose of classic Memphis soul on Overton Park, also their major-label debut. It's most evident in the blazing horns sparked by Memphis session vet Jim Spake, but also in guitar and organ riffs derived from Steve Cropper and Booker T. Jones. Raspy-voiced singer and songwriter Ben Nichols, meanwhile, offers another memorable cast of down-and-out characters grappling to get by, many who would share a natural kinship with those created by Steve Earle, Tom Waits, and Bruce Springsteen. Their "heroes are the losin' kind," they "can't feel a thing" but "can't take the pain," and they're doing pretty well if they "can just get out alive." The ragged glory of Lucero's music just might be the elixir they need. Opening will be former Drive-By Trucker Jason Isbell and his 400 Unit. Isbell also writes vividly of the demons afflicting Southern towns and Southern souls, while tapping an array of Southern idioms from Skynyrd to Muscle Shoals and on into Memphis too. $26. 7:30 p.m. 13000 Zoo Blvd., Apple Valley; 952.431.9200. —Rick Mason


Vans Warped Tour

Canterbury Park

For a good 16 years now, the Vans Warped Tour has been an uber-sponsored rite of passage for the wallet-chained, Manic Panic set; think of this top-loaded, country-crossing festival as punk-rock summer camp for misfits and outcasts willing to sell out temporarily for the opportunity to be squeezed for marketing data. It's fun: You bake in the sun, make eyes at each other, stage-dive, fight each other tooth and nail for free corporate gear, stuff your skater shorts full of CD compilations featuring 17th-wave screamo and Cali-punk bands with names that merrily conflate fast-food franchises, celebrities, and polarizing political pariahs (sometimes). If you can get past all that, Warped is a pretty good way to take the pulse of punk, circa now, in its many forms: This year, thrill to Fake Problems' synth-addled hooks, the crazed party-pop of Andrew W.K., and, um, Disco Curtis, among a metric ton of other bands your too-cool older cousin has probably never heard of (the Word Alive, Attack Attack!) and more still that you kinda wish would call it a day (Face to Face, Sum 41). The best advice we can give? Hydrate early and often. With Alkaline Trio, the Dillinger Escape Plan, Every Time I Die, We the Kings; food and drink vendors; lifestyle exhibitions; more. All ages. $32/$37 at the gate. 11 a.m. 1100 Canterbury Rd., Shakopee; 952.445.7223. —Ray Cummings



The Cedar

For most of Matthew Houck's career under the moniker Phosphorescent, the native Alabaman turned Brooklynite via Athens, Georgia, was on his lonesome, plying a kind of woozy, atmospheric variety of folk. Now he's got plenty of company, having finally made Phosphorescent into a full-fledged sextet, but he often sounds lonely, or sad in any case, beset by heartache, twangy guitars, and weepy pedal steel. Houck fell hard for country, turning in a Willie Nelson tribute (To Willie). Then he upped the ante with this spring's Here's to Taking It Easy, a gorgeous country-rock outing with the vintage flavor of Sweetheart of the Rodeo-era Byrds, maybe a touch of George Jones sitting in on Workingman's Dead. Except Houck's songs have a subtle post-modern, alt-country/pop savvy that lurks even in an otherwise straight honky-tonk ballad like "Heaven, Sittin' Down." The rousing, horn-goosed opener, "It's Hard to Be Humble (When You're from Alabama)," is the most upbeat and blatantly pop tune on the disc (and the only one to justify the allusion to that other band that once took it easy). Meanwhile, the questing guitar in the epic closer, "Los Angeles," strongly suggests Neil Young. Singer-songwriter J. Tillman was a late addition as opener for Phosphorescent. Tillman's languid, existential contemplations also have a country streak. His new one, Singing Ax, is due in September. $12/$14 at the door. 7 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

Use Current Location

Related Location

First Avenue

701 1st Ave. N.
Minneapolis, MN 55403


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 >