Concert Highlights for the week of May 30-June 5

Eleni Mandell gets the maximum UV protection
Dan Monick


King Kong
Turf Club
Ethan Buckler once played bass for Slint, a Kentucky outfit whose ultra-serious approach to modern rock was rightly beloved by critics. Apparently all those good notices became a drag, though, because shortly after appearing on 1989's Steve Albini-produced Tweez, Buckler split to form King Kong, a group whose brand of deadpan dance music quickly attracted reviewers' barbs. Nevertheless, Buckler has devoted the better part of two decades to his defiantly idiosyncratic vision, and Buncha Beans, released in March on Drag City, offers a typical serving of strangeness. Take the environmentally themed "Bulldozers," which is built upon witty keyboard grooves and Buckler's whimsically monotonal delivery of lyrics such as "My father and my mother/My sister and my brother/We follow one another/We're a herd of caribou." The results are apt to leave aesthetes cold. Still, folks with a taste for the absurd will likely consider King Kong the rare sequel that's more fun than the original. 9:30 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; 651.647.0486. —Michael Roberts


Eleni Mandell
7th St. Entry
If Eleni Mandell did not exist, it's unlikely anyone could invent her. The easiest "handle" to apply to Ms. Mandell is "singer-songwriter," though she has little in common with introspective waifs with guitars or pianos. Mandell is an unlikely but silken synthesis of Randy Newman, Tom Waits, and Patsy Cline—a quirky, humane crank of performer with a torch singer's worldly-wise, smoky tone melded with a country star's guilelessness. Her latest opus, Miracle of Five, is a languorous, hazy, jazz-tinged tour of the vulnerable, cracked, and broken hearts populating the very last after-hours joint open in Los Angeles, the city Eleni calls home. With Martin Devaney. $10. 8:00 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Mark Keresman



Triple Rock
It's been 15 years since How to Clean Everything, the first (and arguably most successful) of Propagandhi's albums of melodic, righteously political hardcore. But while So-Cal outfits like Green Day brought pop-punk into the mainstream, and Rage Against the Machine preached anarchism on the MTV video awards, Canadian-based Propagandhi soldiered on without ever really finding a larger audience. But with a generation of tattooed alterna-teens using indie music to work through complicated feelings stemming from last Friday night's hook-up, it's nice to know that one band's still packing their liner notes with pro-vegan tirades and polemics that rail against the G-8. Sales from their most recent project—the concert DVD Live from Occupied Territory—will benefit the Grassy Narrows Blockade and the Middle East Children's Alliance. All ages. $12/$14 at the door. 5:00 .p.m. 629 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.333.7399. —Sarah Askari


Land of Talk
7th St. Entry
Dear Montreal: You keep turning out killer bands, we'll keep listening, 'kay? Land of Talk's debut mini-album (apparently, four to six songs equals EP, but seven means mini-album) comes off like their maple-leaf brethren Metric, if Emily Haines's ice-cold veins were injected with a little Canadian Club. The wooly rush of guitar and four-on-the-floor groove of opener "Speak to Me Bones" runs headlong into Elizabeth Powell's golden but broken voice, which slides off the side of notes like sugary sap. Drummer Bucky Wheaton and bassist Chris McCarron somehow manage to keep things loose yet pulled taut, and the entire trio's obvious chemistry makes it disheartening to learn that Wheaton has left the band. For the time being, he's been replaced by another drummer from Montreal, known only as Eric. Provided they can get their newly developing chemistry together, Land of Talk should make for an inspired pairing with Raleigh, North Carolina, duo the Rosebuds. 18+. $8/$10 at the door. 8:00 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis, 612.332.1775. —Steve McPherson

Raymond Yates (CD-release)
Cedar Cultural Center
Raymond Yates, a longtime sound engineer at the Cedar, will be on the other side of the board tonight, when he and his band celebrate their self-released new album,Gates of Sun and Shadow. As a songwriter, Yates excels at telling stories, often with a touch of drama, whether they're about fleeting love, locked-away dreams, lost friends, or taking a chance on success. He's good with language, and his philosophic musings add color and depth. A strong vocalist, Yates can lead the charge on stirring, folk-rock lopes like "You Will Find Me" and "There And Back Again," as well as etch a gentle ballad such as the James Taylor-like "Sing for the Workman." Meanwhile, Yates's five-piece band, which has had some personnel changes since the recording, nicely fleshes out the tunes with touches of R&B and blues. With Katie Gearty $8/$10 at the door. 7:30 p.m. 416 Cedar Ave S, Minneapolis; 612.338.2674. —Rick Mason

Battle of the Underage Underground
First Avenue
A wise man once said, "If you enter a battle of the bands, you've already lost," but he wasn't talking about Radio K's Battle of the Underage Underground. (He was probably thinking of the Bodog Battle of the Bands.) Year in and year out, the BUU has been a fantastic way for up-and-coming high school bands to get a chance to play on First Avenue's main stage. While the last few winners have been electro-leaning pop bands (Melodious Owl and ZibraZibra), you can't discount the profile-raising set last year by Shoe Shiners, who went on to release a great debut album and pack 'em in for the release show at the Triple Rock. So even though the winner gets a ton of great shwag, it's not whether you win or lose, it's how you play the game. Besides, the real winners are all the attendees who'll get to say, "I saw them way back when." All ages. $5/$7 at the door. 5:30 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Steve McPherson


Gwen Stefani
Xcel Energy Center
At a Gwen Stefani show, you are not a citizen of the world, but the subject of a commanding cultural empress whose red-lipped orders are your new desires. That is because Gwen Stefani publicly exists in and presents as her aesthetic a hugely successful, colorful and fun Gwen Nation. Not for Stefani is the unrestricted private life of her Top 40 counterparts—she doesn't openly plot, sweat, or suffer the way her peers do, nor does she criticize the competition. She tamed Gavin Rossdale and made a baby with him, both enormous personal challenges that went on without so much as a complaining, publicity-friendly cover story. Her high-profile venture into the flooded fashion market proved to be a viable business move. Her solo albums haven't just matched the success of No Doubt—they've lapped it. There's no question that Stefani is a serious creative force, one who seems endlessly inspired by her own trajectory from Orange County naif to the bleached Queen Bee of the music industry. This is not a woman whose music serves as a platform for merchandising. She's a pop star who also happens to be a musician. For the moment, at least, it's Gwen Stefani's world. We're just living in it. With Akon and Lady Sovereign. $39.50-$69.50. 7:30 p.m.175 W Kellogg Blvd, St. Paul; 651.726.8240. —Kate Carraway

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