The week's best concerts: Dec. 23-29

Villa Rosa

Villa Rosa

Benjamin Cartel


On his full-length solo debut, Benjamin Cartel traverses a precipitous path between crafty, hook-laden melodic pop and ambiguous, cheerily subversive lyrics slyly woven with dark portent. Cartel, who with Courtney Kaiser formed the indie-rock/folk duo Kaiser Cartel, is a clever songwriter, a conjurer of alluring pop conceits, and an engaging singer. Gothenburg, recorded in that city with Swedish pals Kristoffer Ragnstam and Joel Lundberg, starts off, for instance, with “No One,” initially an apparent love song whose gothic guitar lines and shadowy overtones signal a quick turn to something more ominous (with a wink to Nick Lowe): “The way you go through me is just too cruel to be kind.” The jaunty “Madeline Climb the Stairs” has a sunny rock vibe and tinkling piano, but the narrator’s reassurances careen into the abyss with a harrowing reference to Hitchcock’s Vertigo. Then there’s the marvelous, Kinks-like melody of “Company Man,” who knows way more than he’ll admit, and the effervescent “Rockaway.” Great stuff, realized with plenty of ingenious HItchcockian twists. 21+. $8-$10. 9 p.m. 2528 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612-276-6523. — RICK MASON

  • DigiTour Slay Bells Tour $25 6:30 p.m. Wed. Mill City Nights

  • Transmission FREE 10 p.m. Wed. Clubhouse Jager

  • Smallhalla Christmas Party $7 8:30 p.m. Wed. Cabooze

  • CubaVida $4 8:30 p.m. Thu. Gluek's Restaurant & Bar

  • Cadillac Kolstad FREE 6 p.m. Thu. Loring Pasta Bar

  • Jim Anton Presents FREE 9:30 p.m. Thu. Icehouse
The Bad Plus


Although there’s nary a jingle bell to be found, the Bad Plus’ annual Dakota residency is a highlight of the holiday season, with one of the world’s most innovative contemporary jazz groups returning to its roots. Now based in New York, pianist Ethan Iverson, bassist Reid Anderson, and drummer Dave King (who remains active in multiple local projects) characteristically approach jazz from obtuse angles. They respect the genre’s origins and rigorous technical demands, but also bring an irreverent rock ’n’ roll attitude and a keen affinity for audacious, avant-garde warps. Thus, TBP’s early rep as iconoclasts for deconstructing pop and rock nuggets from the likes of Black Sabbath, Yes, and Blondie. Similar principles — punk reveries to cubist swing — have prevailed as the trio has relied more on originals recently. TBP’s latest project, a collaboration with jazz giant Joshua Redman, feels like a natural synergy. $40. 7 & 9 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612-332-5299. — Rick Mason

  • Run Westy Run $25 8 p.m. Fri. 7th St. Entry

  • Hipshaker $5 9 p.m. Fri. Kitty Cat Klub

  • Jay Johnston $2-$5 5 p.m. Fri. Palmer's Bar
Villa Rosa


Maria Isa and Muja Messiah have been active denizens of the Twin Cities music scene since way before they left their collaborative project, Villa Rosa, in mothballs back in 2012. The ever-poetic Isa has been steadily releasing more solo work since Villa Rosa’s Exotic Paraphernalia EP dropped, and local rap veteran Messiah is fresh off his long-awaited collaboration with I Self Divine, 9th House. Now, Isa and Messiah are reforming to release LeMuria, which is led by the coursing neo-soul cypher “Mine.” Produced by EQ the Sound and BlxckOnBlxc and featuring languid verses from both rappers, “Mine” repositions Isa and Messiah in the local consciousness as a diametric and balanced force — even if the pair never really left in the first place. Opening are Why Khaliq, Lady XOK + Curandero, Rapper Hooks, and Angie Citlali. 21+. $10. 9 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651-647-0486. — Jerard Fagerberg

Bey Ball: A Semi-Formal Evening Dedicated to Beyoncé


2015 is probably the last year it’ll still be cool to breathlessly worship Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter. So before the calendar rolls over and the Destiny’s Child standout becomes just another tired Tumblr meme, celebrate Bey’s waning infallibility with the Flip Phone crew. Out of respect for the Queen, dress will be semi-formal, and “YAAAAASS” will be the only acceptable retort to every statement made by the DJ. For one last night, enjoy pop mega-jams from Dangerously in Love to Beyoncé as well as Sasha’s fiercest contributions to Destiny’s Child’s discography before you have to wait another decade for her music to come back en vogue. As always, Flip Phone is an LGBTQ-friendly affair. SURFBORT. 18+. $8-$10. 9 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-338-8388. — Jerard Fagerberg

  • DeJ Loaf 2nd Annual Girl Power Concert $25 7 p.m. Sat. The Skyway Theatre

  • Iffy $25 8 p.m. Sat. 7th St. Entry

  • Bruise Violet $8-$10 7 p.m. Sat. Triple Rock Social Club

  • Beautiful Vision: A Night of the Essential Van Morrison $20 8 p.m. Sun. Pepito's Parkway Theater

  • Pat Donohue $15 8 p.m. Sun. Aster Cafe

  • Vaz $6 7:30 p.m. Sun. Turf Club
JT Bates


Drums-for-hire ace JT Bates has bopped around the Twin Cities scene for years, manning the kit for groups like Fat Kid Wednesdays, Alpha Consumer, and the Pines. Tonight, though, it’s all about Bates, who’s celebrating the release of his first solo album, Open Relationships. Producer BJ Burton, electronic artist Mark McGee, and local guitar god Jeremy Ylvisaker helped craft the jazzy instrumental album that’s rooted in Bates’ drum arrangements, but takes glitchy and drone-y electro deviations all over the goddamn place. The six-track LP will arrive as a digital release via cool-guy record label Totally Gross National Product. Mankwe Ndosi plus Davu Seru and Padhandlers, featuring James Buckley and Ryan Olson, will lend their talents to the album-release party. 21+. $10. 9:30 p.m. 2528 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis; 612-276-6523. — Jay Boller 

  • Swimsuit Area FREE 8 p.m. Mon. Kitty Cat Klub
  • Dr. Mambo's Combo $7 9:30 p.m. Mon. Bunker's Music Bar & Grill
  • Record Wranglers FREE 10 p.m. Mon. Lee's Liquor Lounge
  • The New Standards $30-$40 7 p.m. Tue. Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
  • Erik Koskinen $8-$10 7 p.m. Tue. Turf Club
  • Last Tuesdays: Experimental Music Series $5 7:30 p.m. Tue. Bryant-Lake Bowl Theater