The Shins, Jonathan Richman, Walker Kong, and more

Bright things ahead for Walker Kong
Kim Ha

Walker Kong

Bryant Lake Bowl, Saturday 6.02

Even in the pre-Facebook era — yes, that was a thing — there was Walker Kong. The infectious Minneapolis art-pop outfit's history spans back to the late '90s, but the group's new release, Phazes of Light, shows no sign of wear. If anything, "Strangers in Love" is an inspired bit of twee pomp with harmonies destined to make even the pins at Bryant Lake Bowl grin. Singer-guitarist Jeremy Ackerman has a confident ease about him throughout Phazes, and having his wife, Alexandra, backing him up surely doesn't hurt. The night opens with the indie-rock bliss of Prissy Clerks, featuring Total Babe alum Clara Salyer, so this should be a night for the old-fashioned, face-to-face type of social networking, people! $6-$8, 9:30 p.m. 810 W. Lake St., Minneapolis; 612.825.8949. —Reed Fischer

Ted Leo/Wyatt Cenac

Fitzgerald Theater, Friday 6.01

Two insightful entertainers are set to converge on St. Paul's Fitzgerald Theater on Friday night, as accomplished comedy writer Wyatt Cenac (The Daily Show, King of the Hill) joins indie-punk troubadour Ted Leo as part of MPR's ongoing Wits series. Host John Moe will lead his guests through what is sure to be an engaging, illuminating discussion about issues both topical and preposterous, and Leo will no doubt stir things up with a jagged live performance featuring his masterful falsetto and catchy riffage, all set in the regal confines of the Fitzgerald. $32, 8 p.m. 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul; 651.290.1200. —Erik Thompson

The Shins/The Antlers

Orpheum Theater, Day 6.01

The setting for the Shins' long-anticipated return to Minneapolis has shifted from the Brick to the rather lavish Orpheum Theater, a move that will suit frontman James Mercer's tranquil new numbers perfectly. Mercer is the only constant in the Shins' continually rotating cast of musicians, and his new record, Port of Morrow (released on Mercer's own imprint, Aural Apothecary), reflects his singular artistic vision and style. While the Shins have never been the most captivating live band, their prodigious back catalog should bolster this show — no matter who Mercer has alongside him on stage. Brooklyn dream-pop trio the Antlers are well worth showing up early for. $35-$38, 8 p.m. 910 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.455.9500. —Erik Thompson

Armin Van Buuren

Epic, Friday 6.01

Armin Van Buuren's brand of dance music is not in the usual vein. He has carved out a space in which he functions as an electronic folk singer of sorts. Without singing himself — he has guests on nearly all of his singles — he stirs up emotions by pushing buttons and mixing ultra-catchy beats that are a bit similar to that of a Bon Iver record, no joke. This is a night of dancing that doesn't include every goofy '80s song. While he'll never be appreciated here quite like he is in Europe, where he's consistently in the top three on yearly "Best DJ" lists, Armin Van Buuren is the ticket for a blissed-out, sweaty, and thought-provoking good time. 18+, $35, 5 p.m. 110 N. Fifth St., Minneapolis; 612.332.3742. —Pat O'Brien


Epic, Saturday 6.02

With a laundry list of both arrests and platinum-selling number-one albums, the troubled rapper DMX has had a storied career of ups and downs since 1998's It's Dark and Hell Is Hot. This back and forth has made for some compelling music, incorporating dual themes of murder and the Gospel to represent a torn soul. As likely to bark like a dog as he is to hold a prayer circle in concert, the New York Ruff Ryder carries an unpredictable aura of raw power with him that makes this rare performance a must-see. Legal troubles have caused delays on his new album, Undisputed, but classics like "Party Up" and "Get It on the Floor" remain as fresh as ever. A recent interview with DMX finds him back in good form since his six-year hiatus, dissing Drake and making light of his bizarre arrest for drunkenly impersonating a federal agent, and it's evident he hasn't lost his edge or his charisma in the time he's been off the grid. With Tank and MN Ruff Ryders. 18+, $25-$40, 10 p.m. 110 N. Fifth St., Minneapolis; 612.968.6636. —Jack Spencer

Jonathan Richman

Cedar Culteral Center, Sunday 6.3

Treasured pop eccentric Jonathan Richman long has had the aura of an outsider savant, tapping a kind of naively perceptive genius to celebrate life's essential qualities, including truth, beauty, love, art — and rock 'n' roll, particularly early in his career as leader of the proto-punk, Velvet Underground-inspired Modern Lovers. Over four decades, Richman has become more acoustic and folk-pop oriented, while relying on sparer arrangements often featuring only his own acoustic guitar and drummer Tommy Larkins. Meanwhile, his lyrical concerns have evolved from simple, childlike delights ("I'm a Little Airplane") to more nuanced pleasures ("That Summer Feeling") and in recent years to a more philosophical and sometimes strikingly poetic approach. Intact are Richman's remarkable senses of wonder and whimsy. His last album, 2010's O Moon, Queen of Night on Earth, includes ruminations on love and existence, along with classically quirky Richman charmers like "These Bodies That Came to Cavort." Then, following one of Richman's occasional foreign language forays (French, in this case), there's the wacky "My Affected Accent," in which he apologizes decades after the fact for conjuring a fake accent in high school, casually dropping the appallingly hilarious line, "I should have been bullied more than I was." Some things never change, thankfully including Jonathan Richman. The Prizefighters, a local ska band, will open. $15, 7:30 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

O'Death/Charlie Parr

Turf Club, Sunday 6.03

Everyone who wants to keep the good times going on Sunday night should roll over to the Turf Club for the Grand Old Day Afterparty featuring the spirited folk-and-roots stylings of O'Death and Charlie Parr. The celebrated Duluth bluesman will be serving double duty at the Turf, as Parr also has a set scheduled as part of the celebratory Grand Avenue festivities earlier in the day, while the New York sextet O'Death will bring the night to a rousing close with their emphatic blend of Appalachian alt-country. Parr will then join O'Death on a mini-Midwestern tour that will see them hit Fargo, Duluth, and Milwaukee following their St. Paul stop, their classic, enduring sounds complementing each other. 21+, $8, 8 p.m. 1601 University Avenue, St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Erik Thompson

Afrojack/R3hab/Bobby Burns

Epic, Monday 6.04

Three young upstarts in the Dutch EDM scene are going to set Epic off on Monday night, as the vibrant DJ/producers Afrojack, R3hab, and Bobby Burns all bring their distinct styles of progressive house music to downtown Minneapolis. The three artists have all worked closely together over the years, collaborating and remixing each other as well as lending support when it's needed. The trio are certainly part of a new generation that is leading the way forward for the burgeoning dance-music scene in their native Netherlands, and this evening will give local EDM fans a good taste of what has been heating up the clubs all over Europe as of late. 18+, $35, 8 p.m. 110 N. Fifth St., Minneapolis; 612.332.3742. —Erik Thompson

Ramona Falls

7th St. Entry, Tuesday 6.05

When the recording of Menomena's Mines came to loggerheads, Brent Knopf bid the band adieu and embarked on this solo project that is now a full band. Hard to peg into one particular category, Ramona Falls grabs pieces from already-hypenated microgenres (electro-folk, indie-pop), adds more hyphens, and mashes them together while stripping away nearly all of the inherent hippie-ness. It plays out much like a Xiu Xiu album with the forced weirdness dialed down to a manageable level. Knopf adds copious acoustic guitars and just enough curveballs to keep things interesting while not losing out to each song's urge to become the soundtrack for an art-school film short. A veritable tempest of key signature changes, off-time percussion bursts, and the occasional guitar shredding converge to create one of the most intoxicating audio experiences in recent memory. You never know what's coming during a song, even a few seconds before it happens. With the Darcys. 18+, $10, 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Pat O'Brien

Sierra Leone's Refugee All Stars

Cedar Culteral Center, Tuesday 6.5

From their origins in exile, playing scrounged instruments in Guinea refugee camps during Sierra Leone's horrific civil war, the Refugee All Stars created effervescent music that lifted the spirits of their displaced compatriots. Now, a decade after the war's end and subsequent repatriation of the refugees, the All Stars have become renowned on the world-music circuit. The group's newly released third album, Radio Salone, offers a fresh dose of the Stars' trademark blend of myriad strains of Afro-pop, reggae, soca, ska, funk, scintillating poly-rhythms, and vocal harmonies entwined in call-and-response interplay. The wild card this time around is producer Victor Axelrod, a.k.a. Ticklah, who has worked with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Antibalas, and the Easy Star All Stars, and who laces the tracks with subtle but potent new ingredients, particularly from the realm of dub. The band has never sounded so assured, from the opening resonant dub of "Chant It Down" to the exuberant soukous of "Gbara Case" and classic roots-reggae grooves of "Big Fat Dog" and "Work It Brighter." $25-$28, 7:30 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.338-2674. —Rick Mason

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