Some Surprise Bookings This Week in Your Complete Concert Calendar: July 18-24
Pretty much all the music you can catch in the Twin Cities this week.
11:49 AM CDT on July 18, 2023
One reason I like compiling these listings is that I don't miss out when touring acts come to venues I wouldn't expect them to. Who'd have anticipated that rarely touring '90s critics' fave Barbara Manning would play the Aster and prolific oddball Jeffrey Lewis would show up the Driftwood in the same week? As the Family Circus kids say, "Not me!"
Tuesday, July 18
- Barbara Manning + Buck Campbell @ Aster Cafe—Barbara Manning hasn’t played the Twin Cities in 22 years, and it’s fair (if a shame) to say that most indie rock fans who came of age in that span don’t know a lick of her music. Yet back when lists still meant something, the Spin Alternative Album Guide put the San Francisco singer/songwriter’s debut, Lately I Keep Scissors, at No. 82 on its Top 100 Alternative Albums list, edging out Big Black and Sun Ra. (Oh, the ’90s!) Her followup, One Perfect Green Blanket, may be an even better selection of songs, showcasing her direct lyrics, New Zealand-derived strum, and unpolished charm. By 1997 she’d earned her a spot on the Matador roster and an opening slot on a Yo La Tengo tour, but her debut for the label, 1212, underperformed, as bizzers say. After a few years in the early 2000s gigging and recording in Europe with the Go Luckys!, she went back to school and eventually became a high school biology teacher. (This interview fills in a lot of the blanks in Manning’s life and career left by this little blurb.) She’s performing as a duo with Buck Campbell, best known for local ’80s faves Urban Guerrillas, and since, like YLT, she’s got a real fondness for other people’s material (a recent setlist included Rodney Crowell’s “Shame on the Moon” and Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line”) we’re likely to hear an ace cover song or two.
Wednesday, July 19
Thursday, July 20
- Beyoncé @ Huntington Bank Stadium—Beyoncé’s critically adored 2022 album Renaissance is a call to party that’s defined as much by its ambition as its groove—she’s determined to gather unto herself every rhythm from the past 50 years, and to show her work. Dense, with disparate beats and styles grinding up against each other, the mood is less DJ set than club crawl, working the tension between the sweaty reality of a night out and the promised transcendence of the dancefloor. And like after any good Saturday night, tomorrow morning you’ll still remember the best parts: the church girls actin' loose, the “Cuff It” crew fuckin’ up the night, the “revolutionary” (heh, sure) call to quit your job. Her chameleonic vocal shapeshifting remains astonishing, and there’s something (as always) both imperial and empathetic about how Bey incorporates (double meaning intended) her influences into her singular being—she’s every woman. As for how it’ll play live, well, probably no contemporary pop star has a better sense of how to use a stadium. So pretty well, I’d guess.
- Craig Clark Band, Jojo Green @ Mears Park—Proper, functioning cities should rock. With the annual, free, weekly, outdoor Lowertown Sounds program, St. Paul is privy to this in ways Minneapolis could really learn from. When this year’s lineup was announced, organizers noted that over half of the acts are new this summer. Non-musical offerings include great beer from Utepils and Wabasha Brewing Co., wine from Alexis Bailly Vineyard, and a rotating cast of 20 food trucks.
- Joyann Parker Band, Corey Medina & Brothers Band @ Minnesota Zoo—Imagine a zoo with nary a child, one where you can sip wine and watch animals do their thing as the sun sets. Impossible, you say? Nope! We’re talking about Wild Nights at the Minnesota Zoo, a summer series for grownups. During these events folks can explore all the trails and exhibits until 8 p.m. (hilariously, they note that food and drink is not allowed in the Llama Trek walk-through exhibit). Each installment will feature a variety of concerts, all themed that night around a specific genre. Tonight is blues night, with Joyann Parker and Corey Medina.
Friday, July 21
- Jeffrey Lewis & the Voltage, Products @ Driftwood—Lower East Side lifer Lewis has more bands than I can count; this particular unit recorded Bad Wiring with the jittery, wiseass anti-folk veteran (and cartoonist) in 2019. Maybe he'll dip into that excellent outing (my favorite is the one where he freaks out about whether he could write songs in a Maoist state and his girlfriend tells him to CTFO), though I imagine that regardless of who's in the band we'll get a wide sampling of his voluminous songbook. Recent favorites include "When That Really Old Cat Dies" (he'll be surprised how sad he is), "What I Like About England" (the food), and "You're Invited" (apologetically, to a last minute birthday party). But mostly I hope he'll play "Do You Know Who I Am? I'm %$&in' Snooki!!," cut way back in 2013 with proto-anti-folkie and national treasure Peter Stampfel.
Saturday, July 22
- Leslie Vincent (Album Release) @ Crooners—A few years back, Vincent debuted with a fine album of standards, but on her new album, How I Loved You on Mars, her bold, vibrant voice tackles some contemporary material as well, such as this light, swinging "Psychedelics With You," featuring burly brass and a a lysergic kick to its drumming.
- Midtown Blues & Funk Fest @ Dual Citizen Brewing—Last Friday, KARE 11 asked Racket about the plight of Twin Cities music festivals, particularly the under-attended TC Summer Fest at Target Field. And ya know what? The apparent success stories continue to be free, community-driven events like the Midtown Blues & Funk Fest (fka the Lowertown Blues & Funk Fest). You’re not gonna get mega-dollar talent like the Killers here, but you will get a killer lineup that features blues guitar great Walter Trout of Canned Heat fame, Corey Stevens, Mick Sterling, Prince’s pal Jellybean Johnson, and Kendra Glenn plus Lisa Wenger.
- Heiruspecs (Vinyl Release), MaLLy, Ms. Lakesha @ Icehouse—The vinyl supply chain being what it is, your favorite live local hip-hop band and mine are just now making pressings available of their December 2022 release, Pretty Random But What Happened to the Heiruspecs. But hey, you can never have too many record release shows, especially when the new(ish) album, their first in seven years, is worth one more celebration. At least.
- Rondo CLT's 30th Anniversary Block Party Bash @ Rondo Community Land Trust—That’s right, folks who quietly stew about the fact we under-cover St. Paul events: Here’s another prime Saturday option in the capital city. Organized by the housing advocacy nonprofit Rondo Community Land Trust, this bash will provide free food tickets to the first 150 attendees; they’ll get to choose from the two tasty, Black-owned food trucks who’ll be on site—West Indies Soul Food or Jones n' Your Bones BBQ. The block party will also feature a beer garden, interactive art projects, vendors, and live music from the likes of Tarli & the Tribe, Big Kiaa, Solana, and Panasueco.
- Molly Brandt with Pit Stop and Becky Kapell @ Turf Club—There’s a lot to like about Brandt’s lovely latest album, Surrender to the Night. That catch in her voice and that pedal steel accompaniment are pure country, but the settings are pure Minnesota, right down to the title of "Eagles 34" or the plainspoken description of a southeastern Minnesotan landscape that moves her “gently like a needle in a groove” on "Bluff Country Paradise."
Sunday, July 23
- Finesse (Single Release) with Sass, Mr. Submissive and Gwen @ Turf Club—The headliners are celebrating the release of two terrific songs this week: "End of Always" and "Honest Lake." As I said of the former here, "as a GHWB-era collegiate let me tell you: If you’d thrown this on a party mix in ’89 between Erasure and New Order we’d have kept dancing without a second thought."
Monday, July 24
- Lucinda Williams @ Dakota—This intimate five-night stand will give Williams an opportunity to share a little insight into her life and music, and since the alt-country queen has Minnesota ties—she met her longtime manager/collaborator (and eventual husband) Tom Overby when he was working at a Minneapolis Best Buy, and the couple got married onstage at First Avenue in 2009—so expect a little bit of local color. And you can probably also expect the new song "Hum's Liquor," about Bob Stinson and featuring his half-brother Tommy. That's one of the darker moments on Williams latest, Stories from a Rock n Roll Heart, which, as the title suggests, rocks out with less fuss than she has in recent years.
- Chairman Chair & the Chairmen (Album Release) with shrimp olympics, d'Lakes and Drug League @ 7th St Entry—I don't know all that much about the headliners, but I'm a fan of their new single, "Geography," as I noted here, and I'm looking forward to hearing the rest of their full-length, An Infomercial Cruise.
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