I’m Trying Something New With This Week’s Complete Concert Calendar: May 9-15
Pretty much all the live music you can catch in the Twin Cities this week.
11:24 AM CDT on May 9, 2023
I'm always trying to think of ways to make this calendar more useful to you, and so I've decided to add a few more descriptions to each week's post. Not every show I've annotated is recommended (as the words will often make pretty clear), but all of 'em are noteworthy. After all, why should you rely solely on my recommendations. You are (presumably) your own person!
Tuesday, May 9
- KDWB Star Party @ Myth Live—The Star Party is back? That's what it says here, and who am I to doubt my own eyes. Some history: In the years before the Jingle Ball, KDWB would hold a similar all-star event earlier in the spring. Back in the day I saw Vanessa Carlton play "Paint It Black" at a Star Party. I saw Jordan Knight cover Prince. I saw Ja Rule spit one of the wackest freestyles of all time. This lineup is not exactly stellar—the artists performing are Flo Rida, Jax, lovelytheband, and Nicky Youre, two of whom I recognize by name and none of whom I've thought about in years. Hopefully it will at least be a party.
- Ben Folds (solo) @ Turf Club—Ever notice that his name is a complete sentence?
Wednesday, May 10
- Great River School plays The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust @ Amsterdam—High schoolers playing Bowie tunes? That sounds cute as hell. Let all the children boo-gie.
- Robbie Fulks with Trevor McSpadden @ Cedar Cultural Center—Acerbic alt-country goofball Fulks sets aside the yuks (mostly) on his new album, Bluegrass Vacation, where he's more interested in demonstrating his instrumental bona fides. That doesn't mean he's averse to having a good time—as he points out on the history lesson "Longhair Bluegrass," good times are what drew him to this music in the first place.
Thursday, May 11
- Loki’s Folly & The Nextdoors Are: Bad Pear – A Musical Collision @ Aster Cafe—Well, here's a fun idea. Local teen rockers Loki's Folly and Pasadena adult Americana-ists the Nextdoors happen to be second cousins. So tonight they're smooshing their music together as the Bad Pear, which I'm guessing is a pun. What will that entail? Gotta show up to find out.
- Iris DeMent with Anna Egge @ Cedar Cultural Center—Iris DeMent goes at her own pace: Workin' on a World, released in February, is only her seventh album in 30 years. It’s also her most cantankerous and politically minded collection of songs since The Way I Should in 1996. No, let me rephrase—The Way I Should was her most cantankerous and politically minded collection of songs until this new album, which is anchored by an eight-minute rant that starts “I'm going down to sing in Texas/Where anybody can carry a gun” and provides support throughout to her allies while preaching from the left end of liberal. It’s not every DeMent fan’s favorite side of her, but I admire her when she's excessive and graceless about her beliefs—it feels like she's pushing herself out of her comfort zone, rather than just being a lazy crank, and that gives the songs a special edge. It’s worth noting that in her lyrics DeMent counts among her heroes not just John Lewis but Rachel Corrie—and if you have to Google that name, that’s why it’s important that she gets her due.
- Bright Eyes with Maya Hawke @ First Avenue—For a guy who was once anointed with the unenviable “Next Dylan” distinction, Conor Oberst has aged with remarkable artistic grace. Now 43, the former boy wonder from Omaha can still turn a phrase with the best of ‘em, but the diary-ripped poetics of his youth are mere memories he’ll faithfully trot out for loyal lifelong fans. On 2020’s Down in the Weeds, Where the World Once Was, the first Bright Eyes release in almost a decade, Oberst reunited with collaborator Mike Mogis for a comeback album that pulls skillfully from every past iteration of the band, offering country rock, indie folk, orchestral swells, and electronic flourishes. As always, the tracks are undergirded by rock-solid songwriting. And contemporary Bright Eyes is all about fan-service: Last fall the group released companion re-recordings of their two biggest albums (2005's I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, and Digital Ash in a Digital Urn) featuring stylistic switcheroos—electronic for Awake, folk for Ash. They’re a whole lotta fun, and more re-recordings of classic LPs followed
- Cornbread’s 96th B-Day Party Extravaganza @ Hook and Ladder—Happy birthday to indefatigable pianist James Samuel Harris Jr., who you can still catch every Sunday at Palmer's. He co-wrote and played Augie Garcia's "Hi Yo Silver," generally credited as Minnesota's first rock 'n' roll single, and he's also Jimmy Jam's dad. We're promised "some very special guests" tonight. You only turn 96 once, after all.
Friday, May 12
- Billy Idol with Kelsy Karter & The Heroines @ Palace Theatre—Seems weird to me that Mr. Idol remains such a draw—usually nostalgia acts that can't fill arenas cap out at the First Ave level, or class things up at the Hennepin Theatre Trust joints. Then again, he did play an acoustic show at the Turf in 2015, at The Current's behest, which folks were oddly enthused about.
- The 22.214.171.124's, Beebe Gallini, Jinksie, DJ TRAVORAMO, DJ Wendy Norton @ Uptown VFW—If you don't know the 126.96.36.199's by their confusingly punctuated name, you might recognize them from their appearance/performance in Kill Bill Vol. 1. The Japanese rockers are also performing a set on Thursday night at the Parkway before that movie screens, but that event is long sold out.
Saturday, May 13
- Minneapolis Afrobeats Dance Party III: Spring Edition @ Cedar Cultural Center—If I was 25 years younger and could dance, here's where I'd be Saturday night. Along with DJ sets from Salif Keita (no, not that one) and King Swank there are performances by Cedar regular Fanaka Nation and the Nigerian-born Beri, aka That Boy Beri, whose website proclaims "This Naija Boy is everyone's delicacy."
- Yves Tumor with Pretty Sick and Nation @ First Avenue—Always intrigued by but never quite enthralled with Yves Tumor, the toast of Pitchfork. I bore down on the Fiona Appleishly titled Praise a Lord Who Chews but Which Does Not Consume; (Or Simply, Hot Between Worlds), which has been billed as Sean Lee Bowie's big pop move, to discern what I was missing. And despite some memorable melodies, some sharp arrangements, and some apparent brains, Yves Tumor still doesn't quite rock and still doesn't quite groove. But for me it still comes down to vocal presence—some folks got it, and some folks ain't. Soulful, ominous, seductive, enraged—any of these traits would be welcome, and without any of them the music feels more inert than it should.
- TGNP 23 @ Icehouse—Heckuva lineup for Totally Gross National Product's outdoor day-to-night event (it starts at 3 p.m.). The label shows how broad its range of compatriots has grown by bringing in indie stalwarts Lambchop from Nashville and Naeem (the former Spank Rock) from California, and showcases how it continues to work with innovators with an electro-pow-wow set from Joe Rainey. The night closes with Poliça and Marijuana Deathsquads, neither of whom will be playing anywhere else in town this summer. And that's not everyone involved—there are plenty more acts on the bill, including "a few more names we can’t announce yet."
- Luke Combs @ U.S. Bank Stadium—Time passes fast in Nashville these days. At 33, this North Carolina country star is already following up his bestseller Growin’ Up with Gettin' Old. When the new release came out last March, it quickly became Combs’s fourth consecutive No. 1 country album. It’s been preceded by a few new singles, the biggest of which has been the serviceable “Love You Anyway” and the most notable of which is “Joe,” about a decent enough guy with a drinking problem (“when I get half lit, I'm a loaded gun”) who “made a couple wrong turns, did county time,” and, now sober, works at the Texaco. By contemporary Nashville standards, that’s a fairly nuanced character study. Supporting acts on this tour include Riley Green, Flatland Cavalry, Brent Cobb, and most notably Lainey Wilson, who I hope swings through town again and brings the songs from her terrific 2022 album Bell Bottom Country to a smaller venue soon.
Sunday, May 14
- Rebecca Black with Maize @ Amsterdam—Can you believe "Friday" was 12 years ago? (I can.) Congrats to Black for soldiering on after her baptism by ridicule as a teen. Now 25, she's got an intense and largely queer fanbase, and her new album, Let Her Burn, is competent if not transcendent pop, with some hyperpop elements and drum 'n' bass rhythms.
- Tim Hecker with Dosh @ Fine Line—This Canadian electronic composer's latest, No Highs, is "a beacon of unease against the deluge of false positive corporate ambient currently in vogue," he says. Poor ambient—still fated to prove that it's not New Age after all these years. (I want a "Corporate Ambient Still Sucks" T-shirt.) He's got a point though: His music is denser and more emotionally complex than whatever soothing whooshes Spotify has been algorithming your way. My only complaint is that it's almost too engaging to be classified as ambient. Fans of local electronic music, and the spaces where it overlaps with other genres, need no introduction to opener Martin Dosh.
Monday, May 15
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