The week's 27 best concerts: Dec. 14-20

Seasonally appropriate Low

Seasonally appropriate Low Zoran Orlic

Rounding up the week's best concerts in the Twin Cities.  

  • HELMET Dec. 14, 7:00 p.m. at Fine Line Music Cafe
  • JAYDEE BEAT BATCH WARS Dec. 14, 8:00 p.m. at 7th St. Entry
  • RANDY SABIEN (HOLIDAY CD RELEASE SHOW) Dec. 14, 7:00 p.m. at Crooners Lounge & Supper Club

The Violet Rise
Turf Club, Thursday 12.15
Who knows exactly where Sasha Druva became a musician. He was born in Australia, but his family moved as many as 16 times when he was a kid. Among the places he’s called home: Ohio, Colorado, Florida, Seattle, and Minneapolis. Eventually, family brought Druva back to Minnesota, where he was introduced to bassist Jacob Finney and drummer Kevin Weinreis. Together, they form throwback psychedelic blues trio the Violet Rise. The joke among the threesome is, “Who knows what Sasha wants us to do?” Somehow, they’ve figured it out, as the band are celebrating the release of their eponymous debut album on Thursday. One of the guiding lyrics on the LP is “Can you live without love?,” a question that’s been plaguing Druva lately. “This world is kind of scary, especially currently,” he says. Other tracks on the album tell stories or are blues-based love songs inspired by the 28-year-old’s relationship with his wife. “The ultimate goal,” Druva says, “is to be a mix between Robert Plant and Jimmy Page.” With Dread I Dread and the Lone Crows. 21+. 7:30 p.m. $5. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651-647-0486. —Erica Rivera

King Dude, False, and Burning
Triple Rock, Thursday 12.15
“Who wants to live and die tonight?” is the opening line of King Dude’s latest opus, Sex. Apart from the band’s consistent label as "Satanist folk," this new record sees as much gothic new wave as it does lyrical doom and gloom. Having come through town several times with the likes of Chelsea Wolfe, King Dude once again hits the nail on the head by playing with Minneaplis black metal mainstays False. No strangers to the Triple Rock, you’ll find False’s faithful fans crushing the stage in righteous expurgatory with the band's six unnamed members no worse for the wear. False's talents weren’t diminished despite massive coverage and praise from the likes of NPR and Noisey after the release of 2015’s untitled LP. Few acts can maintain this level of DIY allegiance and critical success. Minneapolis’ premiere industrial act Burning opens. 18+. 8 p.m. $12. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 333-7399. -- Michael Cyrs

  • THE CLOAK OX AND ALL TOMORROW'S PETTY Dec. 15, 10:00 p.m. at Icehouse
  • SNOW SHOW '16 Dec. 15, 6:00 p.m. at Myth
  • THE SUNNY ERA (RECORD RELEASE SHOW) Dec. 15, 7:00 p.m. at 7th St. Entry

Sonny Knight & the Lakers
Dakota Jazz Club, Friday-Saturday 12.16 & 12.17
By now, Sonny Knight’s story is well known: His fledgling 1960s music career was curtailed for decades while he drove a truck for a living. A chance encounter with Secret Stash label honcho/drummer Eric Foss led to the classic soul and R&B singer joining a swaggering crew half his age. For their annual holiday residence at the Dakota, they’re supporting the October release of their sophomore LP, Sooner or Later, which digs deeper into the roots of soul and funk. The rousing title track could be a slice of Knight’s life story: “Sooner or later I’ll get mine,” he shouts over Cole Pulice’s blustery bari saxophone and a raucous chorus of other horns. “It Had to Change” is Robert Cray-like blues, Blair Krivanek lacing sharp guitar lines around Pulice’s grumbling bari. The cover of Lonnie Mack’s “Why?” is an exquisite exercise in bluesy anguish and commiserating horns. A Muscle Shoals concoction of country, soul, and gospel fuels tunes like “Stronger in the End” and “The Cry.” Perhaps most striking is the gospel-rave “Oh, Mary,” with a harrowing anti-violence message direct from the grave. $25 at 7 p.m., $20 at 9 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612-332-5299. —Rick Mason

Chalk, Falling, Straya, and Ego Death
7th St. Entry, Friday 12.16
This local all-star bill is made of two parts '90s-alternative hangover and two parts post-hardcore innovators. From the heartbreak of 2014’s Haunted House to the farsighted production of this year’s Water, Chalk has become a staple of independent shows in Minneapolis. Singer Michael Voller’s use of metaphor pairs nicely with Radio K’s resident shoegazers Ego Death, who have made a habit of exclusively performing with phenomenal bands. To boot, the other side of the bill sees the best combination of aggression and melodicism this side of Modest Mouse. Straya’s Healthy Steps and Falling’s Out of Sight are sibling records that prove the meeting of emo and punk rock is indeed a tenable one. From the peace of Falling’s “Doesn’t Anybody Feel That?” to the blistering explosion on Straya’s “For Me Personally”, the cross-genre drama of this bill will be felt all along 7th Street. 18+. 8 p.m. $5. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-338-8388. -- Michael Cyrs

  • JOEY RYAN & THE INKS FAREWELL SHOW Dec. 16, 9:00 p.m. at Triple Rock Social Club
  • TRINA Dec. 16, 8:00 p.m. at Cabooze
  • INVISIBLE BOY (ALBUM RELEASE SHOW) Dec. 16, 10:30 p.m. at Icehouse

Low & Friends Christmas and Holiday Bazaar
First Avenue, Saturday 12.17
Maybe the most remarkable thing about Low — one of Minnesota’s best bands for more than 20 years — is the Duluth trio’s longevity, especially considering the seeming limitations of their sound. They’ve come to be the face of the indie-rock subgenre “slowcore,” originally carving a spot for themselves with low-BPM tempos and minimal arrangements, getting additional color from the harmonies of husband-and-wife team Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. Over the years, they’ve switched things up by working with various producers (including Steve Albini, Dave Fridmann, and Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy) and giving Parker added presence and freedom as a singer, particularly on 2013’s The Invisible Way. Their latest album, last year’s Ones and Sixes, stands as a lively, accessible career highlight; it’s arguably one of group’s three or four best records. As for Low’s “friends” set to join the holiday festivities, the list includes rising local indie-rockers Hippo Campus (who are two months shy of the release of their debut album, Landmark), Duluth violinist and songwriter Gaelynn Lea, Erik Berry, and Ambassadors. Proceeds benefit Second Harvest Heartland. 18+. 7 p.m. $20-$25. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-338-8388. —Michael Madden

Smokey Robinson
Mystic Lake, Saturday 12.17
As a singer, songwriter, producer, Motown exec, and all-around creative force, Smokey Robinson has had a profound influence on popular music. The Miracles were formed in his Detroit high school, then racked up hit after hit through the ’60s, his distinctive, soulful falsetto and poetic turns of phrase etching the rocky paths of happiness and heartache. “Shop Around” helped establish Motown Records with its first chart-topping hit in 1960. What followed are now icons, including “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” and so many others. At the same time, Robinson wrote a succession of gems for other Motown artists, including Marvin Gaye’s “Ain’t That Peculiar” and the Temptations’ “My Girl.” At 76, Robinson has a voice that’s still miraculously supple and expressive. Already a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Robinson last month was awarded the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Music. An all-star tribute concert was recorded for broadcast on PBS in February. Host Samuel L. Jackson’s key quote: “If we want to make America great again, we should make people walk around singing Smokey Robinson songs.” 18+. 8 p.m. $69-$109. 2400 Mystic Lake Blvd., Prior Lake; 800-262-7799. —Rick Mason

Mike Dreams
7th St. Entry, Saturday 12.17
Minneapolis rapper Mike Dreams’ accomplishments are many — for one, his song “So Long” appeared in an episode of the Starz drama Power — but he’s still underrated. While he doesn’t exactly embrace the “conscious rapper” label, the 28-year-old has an impressive control of language and a penchant for thoughtful song concepts (which at times recall his fellow south Minneapolis native Slug). He also has an eclectic taste in beats, whether it’s boom bap or something more futuristic and electronic-oriented. For his first show at 7th St. Entry in four years, Dreams is celebrating the release of his long-awaited Pardon My Vices LP, his fourth album and follow-up to 2012’s Millennial. So far, previews of the album include “Change Up” and “Cheddar Bay Biscuits,” which, while immediately effective for their trap-influenced production, serve as reminders that Dreams is extraordinarily talented with a pen. With Muja Messiah, Destiny Roberts, Dwynell Roland, Juice Lord, and Ashley DuBose. 18+. 9 p.m. $8. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-338-8388. —Michael Madden

  • TINY MOVING PARTS UFF-DA EXTRAVAGANZA Dec. 17, 6:00 p.m. at The Garage
  • MINNEAPOLIS SOUND 2.0: A BENEFIT FOR HOPEWELL MUSIC COOPERATIVE NORTH Dec. 17, 7:00 p.m. at The Hook and Ladder Theater & Lounge
  • MARK MALLMAN: PEACE ON EARTH HOLIDAY SHOW Dec. 17, 11:00 p.m. at Icehouse
  • SPIFFY WILDS (ALBUM RELEASE SHOW AND TOY DRIVE) Dec. 18, 7:00 p.m. at 7th St. Entry
  • 2ND ANNUAL SING SAD CHRISTMAS WITH JOHNNY AND MOLLY Dec. 18, 7:00 p.m. at The Southern Theater
  • JAEDYN JAMES AND THE HUNGER Dec. 18, 7:00 p.m. at The Cedar Cultural Center
  • CHRISTMAS WITH FRIENDS FEATURING JUDI AND LORI Dec. 19, 7:00 p.m. at Crooners Lounge & Supper Club
  • JAYLAP & ELI'S BIRTHDAY BAR MITZVAH Dec. 19, 8:00 p.m. at 7th St. Entry
  • ANONYMOUS CHOIR QUARTET Dec. 20, 9:30 p.m. at Icehouse
  • THE WORM Dec. 20, 8:00 p.m. at 7th St. Entry
  • WINTER SOLSTICE WITH LAURA CAVIANI TRIO Dec. 20, 7:00 p.m. at Crooners Lounge & Supper Club