Concert Highlights for the Week of May 16 - May 22

Silver foxes thrive in the temperate climate of Sloan's native land, Nova Scotia
Davida Nemeroff

THURSDAY 5.17.

Califone
400 Bar
On their fourth studio album, Roots & Crowns, Chicago's Califone achieve Americana nirvana. The album's mix of loops, treatments, and chugging folk-blues lines is deftly layered. The sound still retains the uneasy glory that is second nature to the group. Fronted by Tim Rutini, whose creaky vocals sound like Mississippi John Hurt via psychic possession, Califone employ field recordings, strings, and clattery percussion alongside some very nimble guitar lines to conjure up an impressionistic wasteland. If, in the past, this has struck some as revisionist or revivalist, in the present of sprawling war and environmental collapse, the beaten-down Americana that Rutini draws inspiration from feels apt. Or, as Utah Phillips says, "The past didn't go anywhere." 18+. $12/$15 at the door. 8:00 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S., at Riverside Ave., Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. —Nate Lippens

 

Heliotrope Festival
Ritz Theater
Heliotrope's lineup of underground artists remains pretty steady from year to year—Michael Yonkers, the Pins, Paul Metzger, and Cleophone inventor Dave Kreji are among the familiar names on the bill. But changing the date to synch with Northeast's Art-A-Whirl festivities and setting up shop in the exceedingly listener-friendly Ritz Theatre only bodes well for this noisy yet somehow understated annual tradition. The bill features Skoal Kodiak's raw grooves and contact mic tomfoolery, Mute Era's tough 2-(hu)man No Wave, and maximalist r'n'r performance art from White Map—not to mention rigorous improvisation from the likes of Milo Fine and Jaron Childs, glorious drones from Thunderbolt Pagoda, and Dallas Orbiter's exquisitely uncategorizable pop creations. Also Friday, May 18 and Saturday, May 19. $8 per night, $20 all three nights. 345 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.436.1129. —Cecile Cloutier

 

FRIDAY 5.18.

Kings of Leon
First Avenue
The Followill clan—three sons of a Pentecostal preacher, and cousin Matthew—offer a tantalizing dose of maturity on their third and most diverse album, Because of the Times. There's some genuine reflection, a few regrets expressed, even some responsibility taken. But what's most significantly matured is the Kings' sound, which has all the taut electricity, raw urgency, and apocalyptic aura of estimable rock 'n' roll, but also shows off an ability to exploit quiet passages pregnant with dark portent so that they explode into careening mayhem. Caleb's tortured drawl specifically reveals the band's southern roots, but so does a certain Gothic vibe linked to the likes of Skynyrd and the Drive-By Truckers. Filter that through a critical mix of art-punk sensibility, big-gesture rock à la U2, and holy-roller angst, and you've got Southern-fried pox 'n' droll keenly attuned to the alluring fires of damnation. With Snowden. 18+. $25. 8:00 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason

Sloan
Fine Line Music Café
Sometimes it's easy to take a band for granted. Consider the Canadian band Sloan. The quartet has been pumping out high-quality melodic rock since the early '90s. Although popular in their native land, they've never crashed through America's cult-band ceiling. Even Sloan loyalists probably didn't expect the band's latest album, Never Hear the End of It (released here earlier this year on Yep Roc), to be such a magnum opus. NHTEOI packs 30 songs onto one disc. Short songs, long songs. Rockers, ballads. Hooks, harmonies. It's all there. Nearly 77 minutes and no filler, the album's songs are filtered through the prism of Sloan's love of '60s and '70s rock (starting, but not ending, with the Beatles), yet sound totally modern. Each guy gets more than one moment to shine, with all contributing to the soaring opener, "Flying High Again"—an apt description for the group itself. With Small Sins. 18+. $12. 8:00 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Michael Berick

DEMO-Whirl
Thorpe Building
If Oprah had an Angel Network for basement bands, it'd look a lot like DEMO. The Diverse Emerging Music Organizations helps connect Tapes 'n Tapes wannbes with the people who can make it happen—Twin Cities audiences. A nonprofit founded by longtime First Avenue manager Steve McClellan, DEMO has been throwing concerts and holding panel discussions to help guide new musicians through the stormy seas of booking shows, recording albums, and choosing a name that is searchable on Google. Over the course of this weekend's Art-a-Whirl shenanigans, 99 new-to-you local bands will perform in a three-day Thorpe Building blitz. Free. 7:00 pm Friday; Noon Saturday and Sunday. 1618 Central Ave. NE, Minneapolis, 651.699.7788. Through Sunday —Sarah Askari

SATURDAY 5.19.

Moochy C
Fine Line Music Café
Sure, the Twin Cities hip-hop scene is nationally recognized, most notably for its eccentric heart-sleevers and left-of-field beatmakers. But besides blowing up with backpackers and kids who don't usually listen to rap, the scene is also full of more grimy cats trying get over with music. Enter Moochy C, a product of the hard-knock Chicago streets, transplanted to our very own neck of the woods and ever hungry for recognition. This show promotes his newest CD, sure to be filled with more hard-hitting tough talk and grind-time boasts. Just hope C performs "Minnesota," his ode to the cities' darker elements, where he growls, "Our block like your block/We gutter/Shit, I'm wild," reminding us that just because we're Midwest doesn't mean we're soft—he knows hustling is universal for those that gotta eat. With I Self Devine, Tony Bonez & Big Wiz, Prof & Rahzwell, EMS, more. 18+. $10/$15 at the door. 8:00 p.m. 318 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.338.8100. —Jordan Selbo

Matmos/So Percussion/Walter Kitundu
Walker Art Center
The realms of sculpture and music merge in the work of the Walker's latest triple-headed avant-garde showcase. For all three artists, conceptual framework is as critical as the sound produced. Matmos, the electronic duo of M.C. Schmidt and Drew Daniel, who have most famously worked with Björk and the Kronos Quartet, essentially create collages of found sounds sampled, manipulated, and rearranged into stuff distantly related to industrial, techno, drum 'n' bass, and dub. The exhaustive list of Matmos's culled sounds includes shuffling cards, whoopee cushions, and liposuction surgery, which they deftly transform into material that's irrefutably and often elegantly musical, complete with rhythmic integrity and melodic sense. So Percussion molds its music with a similar perspective. The quartet plays conventional rhythm instruments and such things as wood planks, tuned steel pipes, and teacups with the virtuosity of a chamber group. Covering compositions by the likes of Steve Reich, Iannis Xenakis, and John Cage, the group's music is full of warmth and supple grace, often with an undulating, organic feel. Former Twin Cities resident Walter Kitundu plays what he simply calls new music on a variety of instruments he invented from turntables. His phonoharp combines a record player and multiple strings, whose vibrations are picked up by the needle. Prepare for proof that there's method in all inspired madness. $20. 8:00 p.m. 1750 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612.375.7600. —Rick Mason

TUESDAY 5.22.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club
First Avenue
Leather, unkempt hair, black shades and jeans, ratty tees; where would image be without posture? Last time San Francisco's B.R.M.C. hit the Twin Cities, it was a foot-stompin' acoustic affair, all stools and roots. Fresh off the release of their highly praised third album, Howl, the boys in black were eager to ride out their newfound bucolic polish. But the stoned skuzz and garage-anchored psychedelia best captured on their 2001 debut has clawed its way back to the surface. On their recently released fourth full-length, Baby 81, both sides of the band's sound merge together in a logical, if not entirely remarkable amalgam of rock 'n' roll pastiche. The disc might not blow your hair back to the slick '50s coif of the gang they took their name from, but the return to distorto-amplification has carried over to their live performances, an exciting fact for the band's early fans. With Eastern Conference Champions. 18+. $17/$20. 8:00 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Christopher Matthew Jensen


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