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Music at the MN State Fair & More in Your Complete Concert Calendar: August 22-28

Pretty much all the live music you can catch in the Twin Cities this week

12:09 PM CDT on August 22, 2023

Photos provided|

Ka Lia Universe, Kari Faux

Yes, the State Fair is here, and its musical offerings are nothing to scoff at. There's a decent Grandstand lineup, as well as plenty of fine-to-excellent free shows scattered around the Fairgrounds. I've only listed the nighttime performances here, but there are also free acts worth checking out during the day, as you can see here. (The Strib compiled this nice cheat sheet for catching locals.)

Tuesday, August 22

Mizmor Prosaic Tour with Unreqvited and Kaldeket @ Amsterdam

Dominic Fike with Heather @ Armory

Colin Bracewell @ Bryant Square Park

International Reggae All Stars @ Bunkers

  • Bettye LaVette @ Dakota—LaVette did the near-impossible in 2018—released a full album of Dylan covers that was an instant classic of its kind. When's the last time anyone managed that trick? Her latest, LaVette!, is no Things Have Changed  because the songwriter she's focused on, Randall Bramblett, is, while a solid craftsman, of course no Dylan. (He's also no Dennis Walker, whose material LaVette dug into on A Woman Like Me in 2003.) But I'm quibbling—LaVette! is a solid listen, like each of the soul singer's releases since her comeback at the start of the 2000s, Now 77, at an age where even legends are seeking ways to camouflage their waning voices and stumped for good material, LaVette belts as strongly as ever and never tires of discovering new songs.

St. Dominic's Trio @ Driftwood

Karaoke With On Call Entertainment @ Eagles 34

Smell My Pillow @ Father Hennepin Bluff Park

Jessica Vines, Taylor Sackson, and Oak and the Woods @ Icehouse

Twin Cities Latin Jazz Orchestra Open Rehearsal @ Jazz Central

Ray Cabaet @ Loring Park

Dirty Shorts Brass Band @ Minnesota Music Cafe

The Righteous Babes with Kate Malanaphy @ 7th St Entry

Industrial Strength with DJ Sin @ Terminal Bar

Worker’s Playtime with Aaron Lee Kaplan @ 331 Club

August Conspiracy Series featuring Emmy Woods & The Red Pine Ramblers @ 331 Club

Cindy Lee and Freak Heat Waves @ Turf Club

Tessa Violet @ Varsity

Trevor McSpadden & Mary Cutrufello & Dan Lowinger @ White Squirrel

Desert Islands Presents: "The 5th Anniversary" (Tuesday Night Residency) with Katy Vernon @ White Squirrel

Wednesday, August 23

Hannah von der Hoff (August Residency) with Taria and the Sound @ Aster Cafe

Dylan Salfer @ Bunkers

The Resident Rogues and Damn Tall Buildings @ Cedar Cultural Center

The Paper Clips Trombone Quartet @ The Commons

Maggie's Wednesdays: Lori Dokken @ Crooners

  • Jonatha Brooke @ Dakota—Local music got a ringer when established singer-songwriter Brooke relocated in Minneapolis in 2016. Since Brooke has arrived here, she's released The Sweetwater Sessions, a re-interpretation of her songbook that's as good a place to start with her as any. Tonight she'll perform a few new songs from her upcoming musical, Switched, and she'll be joined by local mainstays Aby Wolf and Linnea Mohn.

Pogo Ballet, the Favorite Things, Cerveza Muscular @ Driftwood

Miss Shannon @ Eagles 34

Kinda Fonda Wanda @ Eagles 34

Jack Barrett Quartet with Toivotet @ Icehouse

Papa Bleu @ Lake Harriet Bandshell

Maurice Jacox with the We Still R Band @ Minnesota Music Cafe

KFAI'S Desert Islands Presents Why Not Wednesdays with Ice Climber, Theyself, Lu Lu & The Shoe, and Poison Psyche @ Palmer's

Soft and Dumb, She's Green, and Despondent @ Pilllar

Karaoke Wednesday @ ROK Music Lounge

Them Dots @ Schooner Tavern

  • Kari Faux with theMIND @ 7th St EntryIf Faux’s 2021 lively breakthrough album Lowkey Superstar (Deluxe) showcased her attraction to L.A. gloss, her latest, Real B*tches Don’t Die (asterisk hers), heads back to her home state of Arkansas and gets real, real country. “Peace to the Black babies born below the Mason-Dixon,” she drawls to start the low-ridin’ “White Caprice,” but she’s throwin’ bows more than she’s making nice here—“I don’t really like y’all” is one of her more polite volleys. The 808s rattle throughout, but the rhythms vary from hype to smooth: On “Me First” (“you know I come first,” and you know what she means) the bass booms, on “Turnin’ Heads,” with an assist from Mississippi’s Big K.R.I.T., it pops. And for all Faux’s insinuating bad vibes, she’s not here just to holler; she’s content to speak softly as well, lolling vowels around her mouth and savoring every syllable.

Harold’s House Party on KFAI with Lightnin' Malcolm @ 331 Club

Maybe Nebraska, The Last Jackson @ 331 Club

Rattle and Hum with Trompe le Monde @ Turf Club

Nights with Tim @ White Squirrel

Thursday, August 24

Dude Lagoon with Fever Field @ Aster Cafe

St. Paul and the Broken Bones @ Bauhaus

Myallo @ Bryant Square Park

Jay Bee & the Routine @ Bunkers

Kodj @ The Commons

3rd Elephant Trio: Acoustic Excellence @ Crooners

Arne Fogel Presents: The Songs Louis Armstrong Sang @ Crooners

Explosion Big Band @ Crooners

Ginger Commodore Presents: The Music of Tina Turner @ Dakota

Zipper Merge, Luke Frees with Zipper Merge, and Scarlett Tangerines @ Driftwood

Denim & Diamonds (DJs) @ Dusty's

Karaoke with On Call Entertainment @ Eagles 34

LGBTQ+ Twin Cities Latin Dance @ Eagles 34

Hunny Bear @ Eagles 34

The Party101 Legends Tour with DJ Matt Bennett with Disco Shrine @ First Avenue

Trioamigos: Ryan Picone, Ben Abrahamson and Daniel Vo @ Granada

Dial Tone, Covalent Blonde, Dalmatian Club, LAME @ Green Room

Los Straitjackets with Jake La Botz Trio @ Hook and Ladder

Bryan Nichols Trio @ Icehouse

Beneath Green, the Confused, and Parachutes @ Icehouse

Steffi Brill @ KJ's Hideaway

Flamin' Oh's with Chemistry Set and Two Harbors @ Mears Park

Chickaboom and Troglodyte @ Minnehaha Bandstand

Smiling Cowboys @ Minnesota Music Cafe

Drums of Navarone @ Minnesota Music Cafe

Curve, Short Timers, Modern Wildlife @ Mortimer's

The Front Porch Swingin' Liquor Pigs @ Palmer's

Sassafras, Amateur Hour, Barnacle, Nothing but Nice @ Pilllar

Anti-Skip Protection: 90's & 00's @ ROK Music Lounge

Joe Fahey @ Schooner Tavern

James Ivy with Georell Magno @ 7th St Entry

The Black Keys with the Velveteers @ State Fair Grandstand

Jamecia Bennett @ State Fair—International Bazaar Stage

The Bacon Brothers @ State Fair—Leinie Lodge

Mike Hosty @ State Fair—Schell's Stage

  • Carly Pearce @ Target Field—Yes, you need to buy a ticket for the game, but if you happen to be at the ballpark Thursday night (or if you're kinda in the mood to see the Twins and need an extra nudge), Pearce is absolutely worth sticking around for. She called her 2021 EP 29 because that's how old she was when she married and divorced singer Michael Ray, an event that fired up her songwriting so much that she expanded the original seven songs to a full-length, 29: Written in Stone. While similar albums from unhitched young country women Kacey Musgraves and Kelsea Ballerini are at least a little ambivalent about their busted marriages, let's just say that Ray does not come off well in Pearce's lyrics. A couple examples: a warning to the "Next Girl" he meets and "Liability," with an emphasis on the first syllable.

Minneapolis Songwriter Round with Eric Christopher, Anthony Ihrig, John Niemann, and Taylor James Donskey @ 331 Club

Preston Gunderson and Jillian Rae @ Turf Club

Empires of Delirium, Anomic, Misery of Flight, and Callus Soul @ Underground Music Venue

J-Mo On The Beat and The J-Lighters with Rachael G, Ori @ White Squirrel

Friday, August 25

Poison Ivy, Splash!, Green, Cottonwood Shivers @ Acadia

NATL PARK SRVC with Keep For Cheap, Civil Decline, & Anita Velveeta @ Amsterdam

Arctic Monkeys with Fontaines D.C. @ Armory

Jenna Graves and the Loons @ Aster Cafe

Loud Sun, Spaceport, Planet Which @ Bryant-Lake Bowl

Some Shitty Cover Band @ Bunkers

Ann Hampton Callaway Sings the 70s @ Crooners

The New Standards @ Crooners

Maggie's Afterglow: Dorothy Doring and Rick Carlson @ Crooners

The Wailers @ Dakota

Elvis Costello Tribute Night @ Driftwood

The Northmen @ Driftwood

Vinyl Voices (DJs) @ Dusty's

Flow State @ Eagles 34

The Skruffians, Meat Raffle Ska, Sorry Ma @ Eagles 34

  • Material Gworl: A Dance Party for Baddies @ Fine Line—Are you now or have you ever been a baddie? If you hafta ask what that means, you’re almost definitely not, but we believe in educating the masses at Racket, so here’s Ice Spice breaking it down for you. (We won’t insult your intelligence by explaining that “material gworl” is a Spicy Santana reference; that’s just household knowledge.) Local luminary, Beyoncé expert, and sometime Racket contributor Gigi Berry, aka DJ OMGIGI will be hitting you with the likes of Megan Thee Stallion, Doechii, and Flo Milli—you know, some of the baddest rap and dance music to hit your ears in recent years. (This playlist will give you a sample of what’s in store.) She’ll be joined by three remarkably named drag queens: Lady Cummeal Cassadine, Priscilla Es Yuicy, and Frozaen Pissás. And you don’t have to be a baddie or a material gworl to attend. However, I do hear that they are enforcing a strict “No Munches” policy.

JVKE with HARIZ and Maisy Kay @ First Avenue

Power Puff: A Queer Dance Party @ Granada

Samambo with Effygasm, Yhante, Kwey, and DJ Calvin @ Green Room

Parisota Trio @ Icehouse

  • Ka Lia Universe @ Lake Harriet BandshellEach year the Strib curates a top-notch August concert/film lineup, and, each year, it’s woefully underpublicized. Five people have RSVP’d to this installment! And that’s no fault of Ka Lia Universe, the 26-year-old local musician who has taught herself songwriting, guitar, piano, ukulele, and sound engineering since she began recording as a teen. As I wrote of her June single, “One Last Fucc,” “St. Paul's Hmong pop star gets raw on this one, cooing singsong invitations over diaphanous synths and trap beats. And yes, the video is just as sexy.” (Speaking of sex, Racket’s Jerard Fagerberg spoke with Universe in 2021 about her work on OnlyFans.) Summer lovin’ will be in ample supply with Grease, the 1978 musical about a nice Australian girl who is inspired by a friend's pregnancy scare to slut it up for a local hoodlum.  

Space Wizard @ The Loft

Blue Dog @ Loring Park

Harlow @ Minnehaha Bandstand

R Factor @ Minnesota Music Cafe

Elegante Fest @ Myth Live

Luke Callen and Molly Brandt @ Palmer's

Cole Allan and Cargill Deluxe @ Palmer's

Mason Jennings (Album Release) @ Parkway Theater

Heat Waves feat. MamaSauce, Darwin Theory, Wissota, and Open Decks @ ROK Music Lounge

Tommy Bentz Band @ Schooner Tavern

Lola Kirke with Molly Martin @ 7th St Entry

  • The Chicks with Wild Rivers @ State Fair Grandstand—Natalie Maines sounds plenty more pissed—and so, plenty more engaged—on the rechristened trio’s 2020 comeback, Gaslighter, than she did on Taking the Long Way in 2006, back when she, Martie Maguire, and Emily Strayer were nursing their wounds in the aftermath of a culture war against them. Thank (if that’s the right word) Maines’s ex-husband Adrian Pasdar, who was so worried by her breakup songs he wanted a court to determine if they violated the confidentiality clause in their prenup. (Good thing that never happened or we might not ever have gotten the lyric “My husband's girlfriend's husband just called me up/How messed up is that?” not to mention the very specific “Tights on My Boat.”) Sure you’ll probably show up for the oldies, but with much maligned, ubiquitous, and newly married producer Jack Antonoff contemporizing their sound, the new stuff holds its own.

Jamecia Bennett @ State Fair—International Bazaar Stage

The Bacon Brothers @ State Fair—Leinie Lodge

Mike Hosty @ State Fair—Schell's Stage

X-Raided @ Studio B

Tourniquet @ Terminal Bar

Bethany Larson and the Bee’s Knees, Ruben, Thieves for Kings @ 331 Club

SUSTO with The Harmed Brothers @ Turf Club

Wild Horses with Landon Pahl, Joe Downing, and Laplant Road @ Underground Music Venue

Nox Novacula with The Rope, and Stranger Gallery @ Uptown VFW

DecaDance @ Uptown VFW

Kamelot with Battle Beasts and Xandria @ Varsity

Alex Sandberg @ Water Works

Blue Felix and Hemlock @ White Rock Lounge

The Collaborators @ White Squirrel

Saturday, August 26

Hot Bagels, Speed Limit 5, E.T. @ Acadia

Reaping Asmodeia, The Motion Mosaic, Evernorth, Contrition, and Druid @ Amsterdam

Arcitic Monkeys with Fontaines D.C. @ Armory

A Piano in Every Home with Faith Boblett @ Aster Cafe

Demitri Rallis & Friends @ Bunkers

Wayne Anthony and the Ballare Orchestra @ Crooners

The Beatles Reimagined @ Crooners

Ann Hampton Callaway Sings The 70s @ Crooners

Maggie's Afterglow: Dorothy Doring and Rick Carlson @ Crooners

Tuck & Patti @ Dakota

Powderfinger (Neil Young Tribute) @ Driftwood

Velahasa and the Perv Glasses @ Driftwood

Pill Cutter and Temporal Riff @ Dusty's

All Women's Dance Party @ Eagles 34

New Rocket Union, French Irish Coalition, Supermodified @ Eagles 34

Shaun J. Wright with fluidtranquility @ Fine Line

Los Nuevos Reyes Del Reggaeton with DJ Cristian Baca @ First Avenue

Vova Careca Live @ Granada

Wild Lyre, Lazenlow, Aesha Minor @ Green Room

Wanaku @ Icehouse

Heat Wave Summer Bash @ Icehouse

Blue Ox Jazz Quintet with Callum Schultz Quartet @ KJ’s Hideaway

Civic Orchestra of Minneapolis @ Lake Harriet Bandshell

Stoned Level X Muerte @ The Loft

The 3rd Annual Ska Prom with The Von Tramps, Space Monkey Mafia, Lost Island Society, Keep Flying, and DJ Shannon Blowtorch @ Palmer's

REMIX with DJ JEN-E @ Palmer's

The Skatalites @ Parkway Theater

Vulgar Tongue @ Pilllar

Gora Ikere @ ROK Music Lounge

Sir Chloe with Lille Venn @ 7th St Entry

Becky Kapell @ Schooner Tavern

poptropicaslutz! with Sophie Powers, @ldrch and 6RIPS @ 7th St Entry

Keith Urban with Lindsay Ell @ State Fair Grandstand

Free & Easy @ State Fair—International Bazaar Stage

Naturally 7 @ State Fair—Leinie Lodge

Kiss the Tiger @ State Fair—Schell's Stage

Scott Clay, Trip Wire, Pandelion @ Terminal Bar

The Great Went, The Muatas, M.A.Y. @ 331 Club

The Body with Troller and Dead Times @ Turf Club

Joe Hysell, Joe Anderson, and Jeremy Johnson @ White Squirrel

Saturday Is Instrumental with Big Trouble @ White Squirrel

Linus with Losing Hope and Unattractive Giant Monster @ White Squirrel

Sunday, August 27

Greg Volker and the River (Video Release) @ Amsterdam

Swing Brunch with Patty & the Buttons @ Aster Cafe

Steve Katz @ Aster Cafe

Dr. Mambo’s Combo @ Bunkers

The Winans: Songs We Love @ Crooners

When I’m 64: Erin & Jay Cabaret Celebrate Jay’s Big Birthday Bash! @ Crooners

Jack Broadbent @ Dakota

Phine Friends, Shotgun Ragtime @ Driftwood

Lounge Lovers (DJs) @ Dusty's

Irish Set Dance @ Eagles 34

Johnny No Cash @ Eagles 34

Rogue Tango @ Eagles 34

Twin Cities Country Dancers @ Eagles 34

Karaoke with Reina Starr @ Eagles 34

Johnny Sincerely Orchestra @ Granada

Chris Koza @ Hewing Hotel

Katey Belleville and Those SOBs @ Icehouse

Cole Diamond @ Lake Harriet Bandshell

Church of Cornbread: Cornbread Harris and His Band @ Palmer's

Black Widows Open Mic @ Palmer's

Of The Orchard (EP Release) with Scalise and Dial Tone @ 7th St Entry

  • Boyz II Men and Chaka Khan with Nunnabove @ State Fair Grandstand—Nostalgia has a way of flattening the subtleties of history. Last long enough and you’re an oldies act, whether you’ve been around for 20 years or 50. So while a pairing of Boyz II Men and Chaka Khan might seem a little anachronistically wack—the group debuted a full 18 years after Khan’s first single with the group Rufus—the hits from each will blend into a joyful soundtrack of days gone by. Softening new jack swing with sweet harmonies, Boyz II Men made superstardom possible for the gentrifying white boy bands to follow. Ms. Khan is a queen who has proven herself equally comfortable with jazz, disco, R&B, pop, and funk, and I guess I gotta mention the local angle: Prince not only wrote her biggest hit, “I Feel for You,” but signed her to NPG Records for a bit and brought her on tour in 2000. You’ll excuse me for being corny enough to say that there ain’t nobody does it better. (You may not excuse me for perving out on main, but can we just...) Promising local newcomers Nunnabove will open.

Free & Easy @ State Fair—International Bazaar Stage

Naturally 7 @ State Fair—Leinie Lodge

Kiss the Tiger @ State Fair—Schell's Stage

Jeff Ray @ 331 Club

A-Mac & The Height with the Histronic and Dred I Dread @ Turf Club

In Lieu, Disaster Artist, Popstar, and Surly Grrly @ Underground Music Venue

Jon Elconin @ White Squirrel

St. Paul Songwriter Rounds @ White Squirrel

Monday, August 28

5 Seconds of Summer with Meet Me at the Altar @ Armory

Sarah Morris @ Dakota

Tango Desperados Practilonga @ Eagles 34

Steve Clarke Band @ Eagles 34

World Music Monday @ Eagles 34

Corey Taylor @ Fillmore

GWAR with Crobot and 200 Stab Wounds @ First Avenue

Alex Browne (August Residency) with Rawtwhylah and LA Buckner & Big Homie @ Icehouse

Retro Soul and the Westside Horns @ Lake Harriet Bandshell

  • Happy Together Tour @ State Fair Grandstand—As always, the Turtles headline this nostalgia package tour, and, as always, fuck the Turtles. Flo and Eddie, the band's litigious core duo, tried their best to kill hip-hop in 1991, suing De La Soul and Tommy Boy Records over a looped sample from "You Showed Me." De La had used four bars from that old track on “Transmitting Live From Mars,” from their undisputed classic debut 3 Feet High and Rising. “This isn’t just a financial objection,” the Turtles' lawyer said at the time. “Flo and Eddie are genuinely upset with the way De La Soul chopped up and mutilated their song.” The two parties settled out of court for a reported $1.7 million, and that price tag helped scare hip-hop artists (and, more importantly, their labels) from using unlicensed sample, effectively ending the age of sample-heavy hip-hop collage albums. Trouble clearing samples for digital release also kept De La Soul's music off streaming services until this year; when they hit the web in March, fans old and new dove in to their peerless catalog. When's the last time you deliberately listened to a Turtles song?

ABBASolutely Fab @ State Fair—International Bazaar Stage

Drake Mulligan @ State Fair—Leinie Lodge

Heatbox @ State Fair—Schell's Stage

Auto-Tune Karaoke @ Mortimer’s

Rare Form @ Nicollet Island

Let Freedom Ring @ Northrop

Cowaoke with Ben Moooker @ Palmer's

Wave Chapelle with BLOOD $MOKE BODY, student 1, Spider Creek @ 7th St Entry

Open Mic @ Terminal Bar

The Roe Family Singers @ 331 Club

Matt Arthur Contraption @ 331 Club

Portrayal of Guilt with GAG, Fearing and Wanderer @ Turf Club

Skarlett Woods @ Water Works

Chef Sounds (DJ NIght) @ White Squirrel

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