The week's 27 best concerts: Nov. 29-Dec. 5

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Brandy Clark performs at the Turf Club on Thursday, Dec. 7. Photo by Pamela Littky

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

  • THOMAS RHETT Nov. 29, 7:30 p.m. at Xcel Energy Center
  • PLEDGE EMPIRE RECORDS DAY IN MINNEAPOLIS Nov. 29, 8:00 p.m. at 7th St. Entry
  • BEN DE LA COUR Nov. 29, 7:30 p.m. at The Warming House
  • WHITNEY Nov. 30, 7:00 p.m. at First Avenue
  • REMO DRIVE Nov. 30, 7:00 p.m. at The Cedar Cultural Center
  • JOEY VAN PHILLIPS (ALBUM RELEASE SHOW) Nov. 30, 9:30 p.m. at Icehouse 

Brandy Clark
Turf Club, Thursday 11.30 
Brandy Clark may be making her Twin Cities tour stop at the modestly sized Turf Club, but her impact on country music in the past decade is vast. She scored her first major songwriting credits in 2010 with Reba McEntire’s “Cry” and “The Day She Got Divorced.” Reba’s stamp of approval made other high-profile writing jobs inevitable, and soon her songs were being recorded by Ashton Shepherd, LeAnn Rimes, and Miranda Lambert, whose Clark co-write “Mama’s Broken Heart” was a No. 2 country hit in 2013. Clark’s own debut album, 12 Stories, arrived that same year, and its stripped-down instrumentation magnified her knack for memorable, empathetic storytelling, though it didn’t necessarily flaunt her potential to become a superstar performer in her own right. That sort of album came in 2016 with the more ambitious Big Day in a Small Town, featuring an expanded sound and the chart-certified, disco-influenced lead single, “Girl Next Door.” 7 p.m. $20 advance; $25 at the door. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651-647-0486. —Michael Madden

  • MOGWAI Dec. 1, 7:00 p.m. at First Avenue
  • MASON JENNINGS Dec. 1, 8:00 p.m. at Turf Club
  • GAY WITCH ABORTION AND TONGUE PARTY (RECORD RELEASE SHOW) Dec. 1, 9:00 p.m. at Terminal Bar

The Staves & yMusic
Walker Art Center, Friday 12.1 & Saturday 12.2
The matchmaker behind this collaboration between English folk trio the Staves and the hip New York chamber ensemble yMusic is Justin Vernon, who commissioned a joint performance piece for his 2016 Eaux Claires Festival. Sisters Jessica, Camilla, and Emily Staveley-Taylor, who are rooted in British folk traditions, match wondrous harmony vocals to spare arrangements; Vernon produced the Staves’ second album and coaxed out touches of Carole King pop, Laurel Canyon, and the Roches’ New Jersey from the trio. The sextet yMusic displays virtuosic technique, appreciates whimsy and the avant-garde equally, and conducts an almost spiritual quest to explore the confluence of classical, pop, folk, and indie rock. The Way Is Read, the collaborative album between the Staves and yMusic, deconstructs genre expectations and reimagines them with thrilling new twists. “Courting Is a Pleasure,” for instance, juxtaposes mournful folk against classical dissonance while individual instruments peck at the piece with frantic flourishes. $32. 8 p.m. Friday. 7 & 9:30 p.m. Saturday. 725 Vineland Place, Minneapolis; 612-375-7600. —Rick Mason

  • THE WRECKS Dec. 2, 6:00 p.m. at The Garage
  • KILL THE VULTURES Dec. 2, 8:00 p.m. at Turf Club
  • YELAWOLF Dec. 2, 8:00 p.m. at Skyway Theatre

21 Savage
Myth, Saturday 12.2
Though Atlanta’s 21 Savage might have seemed destined to become one of the biggest street rappers in the game, few would have predicted he’d also be a mainstream pop figure. But here he is in 2017, sitting on top of the Hot 100 with a cameo on Post Malone’s “Rock Star.” He’s managed this despite a cold, almost lifeless monotone delivery that, for his fans, makes his seen-it-all street claims believable. In 2015, 21 began to buzz with villainous street hits like “Red Opps” and “Skrrt Skrrt” before breaking through with his first collab project with super-producer Metro Boomin, Savage Mode, featuring the hits “No Heart” and “X” (featuring Future). Then, after high-profile cameos on Drake’s “Sneakin” and Mike Will Made It’s “Gucci on My,” 21 delivered his debut album, this summer’s Issa Album, with the highlights “Bank Account,” “Numb the Pain,” and the surprisingly political bonus track “Nothin New.” Where the album was ultimately spotty, a more consistently dynamic project came in Halloween’s Without Warning, a team-up with Metro and Migos’ Offset, whose triplet-based flows provide a potent foil for 21 on songs like “Ghostface Killers” and “Disrespectful.” With YoungBoy Never Broke Again. 8 p.m. $35-125. 3090 Southlawn Dr., St. Paul; 651-779-6984. —Michael Madden

  • FRANKIE LEE DECEMBER RESIDENCY Dec. 3, 7:00 p.m. at Clown Lounge At The Turf Club
  • AND AND END Dec. 3, 8:00 p.m. at Eagles Club #34
  • 93X NUTCRACKER PRESENTS: QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE Dec. 3, 6:00 p.m. at Palace Theatre

Run the Jewels
Myth, Sunday 12.3
Rappers are typically expected to lose vitality as they enter middle age, but Atlanta’s Killer Mike and Brooklyn’s El-P have bucked the norm as the bludgeoning duo Run the Jewels. Their different backgrounds made their partnership seem unlikely at first: Mike a whip-smart, ever-impassioned Southern rap crusader, El an experimentalist whose influence as both an MC and producer has permeated underground rap for 20 years. The now 42-year-olds’ creative relationship began in earnest when El produced the entirety of Mike’s 2012 solo album R.A.P. Music and Mike guested on El’s Cancer 4 Cure, released just a week later. As Run the Jewels, they’ve since released three self-titled albums full of gloriously aggro rap that’s by turns political, personal, and pure shit-talk. Following the first installment and 2014’s even better RTJ2, Mike and El’s most recent LP, last December’s RTJ3, recaptured its predecessors’ magic while bringing various new elements into the fold, such as jazz messiah Kamasi Washington’s snaking sax on “Thursday in the Danger Room.” With British alt-pop newcomer Bishop Briggs, Doomtree offshoot Shredders, and more. 6 p.m. $43. 3090 Southlawn Dr., St. Paul; 651-779-6984. —Michael Madden

Brad Mehldau Trio
Dakota, Sunday 12.3 & Monday 12.4
Brad Mehldau takes a cerebral approach to jazz piano, focusing on the formal architecture of a piece—the way it’s logically structured—which he stresses to its limits with high-flying improv, yielding what he’s called “controlled chaos.” Mehldau has played with scads of musicians in many formats, but his favorite setup appears to be the trio, and his long association with bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard has created a spirited ensemble that explores a flood of ideas. The trio’s latest recording is 2016’s sly and subtle Blues and Ballads. Charlie Parker’s bluesy “Cheryl” evolves from cubist bits to jaunty swing to beatific bop, the standard “These Foolish Things” goes from a lush meditation on its familiar melody to a transformative Mehldau solo, and the Beatles’ “And I Love Her” breathes with noirish intrigue and yearning. $35-$50 at 7 p.m.; $25-$40 at 9 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612-332-5299. —Rick Mason

  • MILO Dec. 4, 7:30 p.m. at Turf Club
  • BLACK PISTOL FIRE Dec. 4, 7:00 p.m. at 7th St. Entry
  • JT'S JAZZ IMPLOSION Dec. 4, 9:00 p.m. at Icehouse
  • THE DREAM SYNDICATE Dec. 5, 7:00 p.m. at Fine Line Music Cafe
  • EVANESCENCE Dec. 5, 8:00 p.m. at Historic State Theatre
  • JOE PUG Dec. 5, 7:00 p.m. at Turf Club

Colter Wall
7th St. Entry, Tuesday 12.5
For fans of traditional country music, 22-year-old Colter Wall looks and sounds like the real deal. A native of the Saskatchewan prairie, Wall sings in a weathered, world-weary baritone and writes raw, poetic lyrics about tough lives on emotional and literal frontiers, echoing Nashville renegades like Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson, country outlaws like Waylon Jennings, and tortured folkies like Townes Van Zandt. On his riveting full-length eponymous debut album, the spaces are wide open and battered by haunting winds that carry grit and hard revelations. Backed by skeletal acoustic guitar, pedal steel, slippery percussion, and tinkling saloon piano, Wall etches grim tales of murder, codeine nightmares, brawls, traipsing country backroads, existential sorrow, and, on “Transcendent Ramblin’ Railroad Blues,” hopping boxcars while name-checking Woody Guthrie, whose legacy appears secure in Wall’s battered paws. Kentucky folkie Ian Noe opens. 18+. 7 p.m.  $12-$15. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-338-8388. —Rick Mason


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