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Spring Guide 2024: Festivals, Concerts, Comedy Gigs, Gardens, and More

Yes, it’s been spring all winter. But now it’s actually spring.

It feels weird to be putting out a Spring Guide this week; it’s been spring-like since January, and half the stuff we featured in our Winter Guide was canceled because there was no snow and the ice kept thawing. But hey, in a few days it will be officially spring. And we might be getting snow this week—that’s very on-brand for Minnesota! So let’s celebrate the changing of the seasons, even if this winter was about as strong as a 3.2 beer.

30 Days of Biking

FESTIVALS

30 Days of Biking

Everywhere!

The premise is simple: For the month of April, hop on your bike once a day and go somewhere. It doesn’t have to be a big deal—once around the block counts—but the idea is to get into the habit of riding and enjoying the world around you via bicycle. The 30-day challenge started as a Minnesota thing, but quickly became a worldwide phenomenon, with folks from around the world pledging to participate. Here in town, there’s usually a variety of events throughout the month, including a friendly-paced, four-mile kickoff ride (details are coming soon but generally the meetup is at Gold Medal Park) and weekly rides with the Joyful Riders Club. Watch the org’s Facebook page for updates on group rides, and sign up for the challenge at 30daysofbiking.com. April 1-30.—Jessica Armbruster

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Film Fest

The Main Cinema

Now in its 43rd year, some say MSPIFF is the Cannes of the Midwest. (OK, I don’t know if anyone else says that, but I do.) This spring, Minnesota’s biggest film fest returns with over 200 screenings at the Main Cinema and other venues around town. There will be panel talks, cocktail parties, book signings, and, yes, films. There will be new Hollywood releases, locally made flicks, movies by Indigenous artists, documentaries, family-friendly fare, LGBTQ-focused works, and pretty much anything else you can imagine. Highlights include festival opener Sing Sing, starring Colman Domingo as a man who organizes a theater group while in prison; festival closer, Kelly O'Sullivan’s Ghostlight, is about an emotionally distant man who joins a community theater production of Romeo & Juliet (I’m sensing a theme here). Cinematographer Roger Deakins will also be giving a talk following a screening of Fargo, a little Minnesota film he shot in 1996. Check out the complete fest schedule online.115 SE Main St., Minneapolis. April 11-25.—Jessica Armbruster

Saint Paul Art Crawl

Various Locations

While Art-A-Whirl in Minneapolis packs everything into three days, sleepy St. Paul takes a more chill approach, spreading its big crawl across multiple neighborhoods over several weekends. Now in its 33rd year, this celebration of creatives features open studios, parties, performances, tours, demonstrations, and more at over 40 galleries, collectives, and pop-up spaces, showcasing over 350 artists working in just about every medium imaginable. The first week offers events across four neighborhoods (Summit-Grand, West Side, Merriam Park, Little Mekong Cultural District), the following week keeps it relatively simple with happenings along West Seventh and Cathedral Hill (including the Schmidt Spring Art Crawl), and the third week is an outright blowout, with things planned throughout downtown, Lowertown, Como, Payne-Phalen, and Raymond Station. Whew! It’s all free, and while hours vary by venue, in general each weekend they are: 6-10 p.m. Friday; noon to 8 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Find more details at ​​stpaulartcollective.org. April 12-April 28.–Jessica Armbruster 

Fashion Week MN

Fashion Week MN

Various Locations

After taking the fall season off to regroup and reorganize, Fashion Week MN is back with a runway-focused series this spring. That includes I AM FABULOUS, an all-caps evening featuring stylish models age 60 and up on the catwalk; Man Down, celebrating menswear and benefitting local men’s mental health groups; Into the Studio, a showcase of local lines working in slow, sustainable fashion (think organic fabrics, equitable wages, upcycled materials, and other eco- and human-friendly approaches); and emerging Minnesota designer showcase La Rotonde. The celebration closes out with Evolve, a pop-up shopping event at Star Bar + Bistro. Ticket prices vary per evening, but tend to fall in the $30-$75 range. Find more details and the complete schedule online. April 14-19.—Jessica Armbruster

2024 Food Truck Kick Off

Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church

One of the best signs of spring? The return of food trucks. And you don’t have to work downtown to find a few good ones parked in one spot. Throughout the spring and summer, you only need to find this church parking lot, where 25 or so trucks will be parked and serving up eats. We’re talking about grilled corn, fresh waffles, BBQ, pierogi, samosas, and egg rolls from the Egg Roll Queen. Speaking of which, if you’re a fan of egg rolls you’ll want to stop by in June for the group’s Eggroll Festival, where vendors will be serving up 40 varieties of ’em. Check out the full lineup here. Free. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. 1669 Arcade St., St. Paul. April 21, June 9.—Jessica Armbruster

Art In Bloom

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Mia’s annual celebration of flowers is turning 40 this year. The event tasks florists with interpreting pieces in the museum—including paintings, sculptures, and tapestries—through fresh flowers, ferns, moss, and other greenery. The results are delightful, capturing each artwork’s color, composition, and shape in inventive ways. This year will boast over 160 arrangements by local florists, plus 20 larger scale installations from groups and organizations. Pieces will be on display throughout the weekend (though it’s best to get there earlier before the wilting begins), and admission, as always, is free. Find more details here. 2400 Third Ave. S., Minneapolis. April 25–28.—Jessica Armbruster

Chicken-shaped vehicles park for free!Reverie

MayDay Celebrations

Various Locations

Since 1975, folks have made their way to Powderhorn on May 5 to celebrate artsiness and the changing of the seasons. Once helmed by In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, the event is upheld these days by a variety of groups doing their own friendly/collaborative thing. Crust punk extraordinaires (and longtime parade participants) Southside Battletrain are planning to make their way along Bloomington once again, delighting folks with their wild metal contraptions on wheels. Last year’s event also included folks from the ArtCar/ArtBike crew, stilt walkers, and kids wearing decorated cardboard boxes—we expect a return of similar spectacle. (You can also help support them by attending their fundraiser on March 23.) Meanwhile, over at Powderhorn Park, Heart of the Beats (great name!) is hosting a daylong drum jam welcome to all from 2:30-7 p.m. Reverie Cafe + Bar and Modus Locus are teaming up too, for a free block party with live music, art, and other fun starting at 3 p.m. May 5.—Jessica Armbruster

Art-A-Whirl

Northeast Minneapolis

St. Paul artists have their turn in April while northeast Minneapolis artists go hard in May. Now in its 29th year, Art-A-Whirl invites folks to explore the area with an artsy lens. Over 80 venues are scheduled to participate this year, showcasing over 1,200 artists. If that sounds like too much, don’t let those numbers freak you out. Think of it a little like the Minnesota State Fair: You can’t do everything even if you try, so just commit to two or three things and leave yourself a bit of wiggle room. Hop on a bus or your bike (Metro Transit generally offers free rides during the fest), hit up a studio (Northrup King Studios, the California Building, or Casket Arts are all good places to start), and make your way to a brewery or nearby restaurant when you start to feel worn out. Find more info for AAW online. 5-10 p.m. Friday; noon to 8 p.m. Saturday; noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. May 17-19.—Jessica Armbruster

Doors Open

Various Locations

Want to get to know our city a little better? Doors Open offers new ways to explore the nooks and crannies rarely open to the general public. For the next two days, nearly 100 restaurants, public institutions, bars, music venues, theaters, and other spaces will open up and invite you to explore, tour, and learn a little more about Minneapolis. You’ll be able to get up close to downtown’s Target Plaza lights, our city’s colorful beacon alerting us to things like Timberwolves games, Pride Month, and the Fourth. Head to the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis to gaze upon $4.7 million in cash, sit on a shredded throne of $1.7 million, and take a closer look at the money in your pocket to learn more about security features. Or take a look at 1.5 million books at Minnesota Library Access Center’s huge underground storage facility. Check out the green room at the Cedar, tour the Star Tribune’s newspaper printing facility (it really does look just like it does in the movies), and visit the Foshay’s viewing deck/museum for free. Other fun to be had: Strolling through a post office’s office, watching a live camera under a sewer gate, and learning a little bit about The Lift Garage, a nonprofit auto repair shop that works to get people on a budget to keep their cars running. For a complete list of buildings and what they’ll be up to this weekend, check out doorsopenminneapolis.org. Most events are free; some require tickets/RSVPs. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 18-19.—Jessica Armbruster

Grand Old Day returns

Grand Old Day

Grand Avenue

What is the most-attended one-day fest in the Midwest? Grand Old Day, baby! After taking a few Covid years off, the epic street fest returned in 2023. This year it will continue to offer a variety of things to see and do. That includes a parade in the morning, street vendors showcasing local businesses, food trucks galore, hands-on family activities, an artists’ zone, beer gardens, and live music stages. Be prepared to GTFO at the stroke of 5 p.m., though: This is St. Paul. They don’t do late nights over there so this event ends promptly on time. Find more details over at grandave.com. Free. 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Grand Avenue, St. Paul. June 2.—Jessica Armbruster

Asian Street Food Night Market

Sears Parking Lot

An epic festival in a Sears parking lot? Hell yes. The ever-popular, always delicious Asian Street Food Night Market returns in June. The gang’s all here: fried egg rolls, crepes (both savory and fruity), sushi burritos, mini donuts, halo-halo, deep-fried stuffed mochi, shaved ice, boba tea—are you hungry yet? Add in a beer garden, a live music stage, local vendors, a talent show, and a Lion Dance performance and you have a great way to spend a few hours appreciating local Asian-American culture. Follow the org’s Facebook page for updates of what’s coming to the fest. Free. 3-11 p.m. Saturday; 3-10 p.m. Sunday. 425 Rice St., St. Paul. June 8-9.—Jessica Armbruster

Chalkfest, Erik Greenawalt

Chalkfest Maple Grove

Main Street

Folks, we’ve been sleeping on Chalkfest, an epic art celebration out in Maple Grove. Each year, artists from around the world come to town to create amazing pieces, using asphalt as their canvas. The resulting pieces are, to put it mildly, gorgeous. Past efforts have included mind-bending optical illusions, super-realistic portraits, detailed cityscapes, odes to rap artists, and lots of mandalas. You can watch artists create these pieces live and, in some cases, even help out. The event also includes a kids’ zone with tons of hands-on activities and a stage featuring local live music. Find more details at chalkfestmaplegrove.com. Free. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Art can be found along Main Street, between Elm Creek Boulevard and Arbor Lakes Parkway, Maple Grove. June 8-9.—Jessica Armbruster 

Clockwise: Maria Bamford, Joe Pera, Beth StellingPromo pics

COMEDY

Racket’s picks for live comedy, as chosen by Jay Boller. 

Sklar Brothers: You know ‘em from those Sonic commercials; you’ve seen ‘em as ESPN talking heads; you’ve heard ‘em host seemingly dozens of podcasts. They’re the Sklar brothers, and they’re quite funny. $20-$45. Acme Comedy Co., 708 N. First St., Minneapolis; find more info here. April 4-6.

Marc Maron: Regular WTF listeners have heard Maron repeatedly tease his retirement from standup comedy. The alt-comedy/podcasting great is at the top of his game, so here’s hoping this isn’t his last Minnesota gig. $49.50-$69.50. Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here. April 6.

Maria Bamford: Maron has repeatedly described Minnesota’s Maria Bamford as one of the greatest comics ever, and he ain’t wrong. Revisit the love letter she wrote via Racket to the Dunn Bros. on London Road in Duluth. $34.50-$59.50. Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here. April 10.

Anthony Jeselnik: Few comedians are as unfailingly dark and funny as Jeselnik, whose psychopathic persona cooks up album titles like Fire in the Maternity Ward. Unlike some shock-value comics, Jeselnik dazzles with misdirection, sometimes arriving at punchlines that reveal noble truths (see: the closer to his 2015 special Thoughts and Prayers). $59-$99. State Theatre, 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here. April 20.

One Liner Madness: This one sounds like a helluva good time: Locally launched Ben Katzner and co-host Emily Winter will oversee 64 (!) fellow comics competing in a bracket-style contest that will reveal the ultimate one-liner joke. Winners of this traveling tourney receive cash prizes and, crucially, a trophy. $15-$20. Turf Club, 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; find more info here. April 23.

Dana Gould: The brilliant Gould boasts a sterling TV-writing resume (The Simpsons, The Ben Stiller Show), but he should not be slept on as a standup. $28-$43. Acme Comedy Co., 708 N. First St., Minneapolis; find more info here. April 25-27.

Preacher Lawson: This energetic, family-friendly America's Got Talent finalist does serious numbers on YouTube. $29.50+. Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul; find more info here. May 4.

Whose Live Anyway?: The present-day cast of Whose Line Is It Anyway?—the program that introduced mainstream TV viewers to improv comedy—takes the show on the road. We’re, of course, talkin’: Ryan Stiles, Greg Proops, Jeff B. Davis, and Joel Murray. $64-$80. Pantages Theatre, 710 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here. May 10. 

Neil Hamburger: Gregg Turkington's lounge-lizard persona has been prowling stages since the ’90s, hacking, sweating, and snorting his way through anti-comedy sets that comedy nerds love. $25. Turf Club, 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; find more info here. May 18.

Scream It Off Screen: OK, while not technically live comedy, this Gong Show-style short film contest is a reliable hoot. Nice to see the local crew consistently filling up The Parkway each month, and now venturing into new territory—this is their first event at the much larger Fitz. $30-$40. Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul; find more info here. May 18.

Bobcat Goldthwait: I promise you, NPR listeners, Bobcat is so much more than a panelist on Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! The standup/actor/writer/director is one of the most influential (and, tonally, most unique) voices to emerge from the '80s comedy scene. $28-$43. Acme Comedy Co., 708 N. First St., Minneapolis; find more info here. May 22-25.

Beth Stelling: “Her comedy emerges from an onstage character as rich and resonant as a great movie protagonist,” writes the great NYT comedy critic Jason Zinoman. “Even if you don’t know someone like Stelling, her fully realized performance makes you feel as if you do.” High and deserving praise for this very funny comic with an HBO special (Girl Daddy) and co-starring credit (Crashing). $28-$43. Acme Comedy Co., 708 N. First St., Minneapolis; find more info here. June 6-8. 

Varietopia with Paul F. Tompkins: You know you’re in good hands with Tompkins, whose lightning-quick wit and killer impressions (lord, hope he does Herzog at The Fitz…) delight across all sorts of podcasts. Tonight, the sharply dressed comedian will ringlead his zany riff on the classic variety-show format. $25+. Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul; find more info here. June 7.

Joe Pera: Racket once described Adult Swim's Joe Pera Talks With You as the feel-good TV show every Minnesotan should be watching. Did you comply? $35+. Fitzgerald Theater, 10 E. Exchange St., St. Paul; find more info here. June 11. 

Danny BrownPeter Beste

Music

Danny Brown

Varsity Theater

Brown had a helluva 2023, a banner year even for a guy who’s had plenty of ’em since kicking his career into gear in 2010. Spitting rhymes like “I wanna rock right now/Hittin' whippets and eating halal/Get to clippin' while whippin' these sounds/You get hit, you gon' sing like Bilal” on Scaring the Hoes, his collab with JPEGMAFIA, the Detroit rapper’s whine cuts through the clutter and clatter of that producer’s glitchy funk like the sirens and horns that topped the Bomb Squad’s sampled cacophony on classic Public Enemy records. He followed up that noisemaker with the introspective Quaranta, an often regretful look back at the past 42 years of his life, particularly the 12 since he entered his fourth decade with his second album, XXX. His main theme? “This rap shit done saved my life/And fucked it up at the same time.” Here Brown recalls his early years as an ex-con, tries to keep his bearings in a gentrifying Detroit, and mourns a relationship, all with even more insight than he’d developed a decade ago. There’s a myth that rappers inevitably get less relevant as they get older. Quaranta suggests that’s maybe because most rappers aren’t talented enough, but it’s certainly because they’re not honest enough. $28.50-$97. 7 p.m. 1308 SE Fourth St., Minneapolis; find more info here. March 22.—Keith Harris 

Sleater-Kinney

Palace Theatre

I prefer to think of Little Rope, released in January, not as Sleater-Kinney’s second post-Janet Weiss album but their first post-post-Janet Weiss album. Not because capable new drummer Angie Boylan defines the band’s new sound any more than do the occasional synths that fill out the mix, but because after making the most of their new freedom on The Path to Wellness, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker seem to have accepted specific roles within their partnership. Little Rope simmers more than it explodes, with targets maybe more allusive (“The thing you fear the most will hunt you down” and “Hell is just a place that/We can't seem to live without”) than you’d hope in this fraught moment, and its aim less steady when they do zero in on the enemy (“You’re burning all the books in this town”). Yet Brownstein’s guitar virtuosity continues to evolve in unexpected ways, here inflected by grief for a mother and stepfather who died in a car accident last year. And Tucker’s enormous voice remains more nuanced than almost any full-throttle rock belter you can name. At its best (I pick “Untidy Creature”) their outrage sounds as fresh as when they were first redefining rock feminism 30 years ago, but with the perspective of middle-age refining their analysis. Oh, and they still rock. That’s just a given, I hope. With Black Belt Eagle Scout. $39.50-$75. 8 p.m. 17 W. Seventh Place, St. Paul; find more info here. March 23.—Keith Harris 

Herbie Hancock

State Theatre

For 30 years, Herbie Hancock seemed to be at the center of every great musical shift in jazz. In the ’60s, as the pianist for Miles Davis’s second great quintet, the pianist helped adapt post-bop ideas to a small combo setting, while also adding new standards to the jazz catalog as a composer and bandleader on albums like Maiden Voyage. In the ’70s, he took Miles’s complex fusion ideas in more accessible directions, and his landmark recording Head Hunters not only drew from funk and soul but influenced subsequent funk and soul musicians. And when so many serious musicians were dismissing rap as a novelty in the early ’80s Hancock dove right in with “Rockit.” As innovators will do, Hancock has slowed down over the years, though fine late career projects like River: The Joni Letters demonstrate that neither his chops or his mass sensibility had diminished. Now nearly 84, he won’t be on the road much longer, and if you need one last nudge, he’ll be bringing a helluva band to town with him: Terence Blanchard on trumpet, Devin Daniels on sax, bassist James Genus, drummer Trevor Lawrence Jr., and guitarist Lionel Loueke. $60-$130. 7:30 p.m. 805 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here. April 4.—Keith Harris 

Nur-DPromo pic

Nur-D with Minnesota Orchestra

Orchestra Hall

When last we heard from rapper Nur-D, he’d forsworn performing at First Avenue-owned venues. His decision to boycott, he said at the time, was in protest of the club asking him to share the stage with an alleged sexual abuser. And that’s Matt Allen in a nutshell—he may be known (rightly) as a genial, even comic performer, but he sticks to his principles. Allen was active as a medic during the protests after George Floyd’s murder, and responded to 2020 with a pair of albums, 38th and Chicago, that turned an eye toward Minneapolis’s racial problems. Allen also likes to do things big, and there’s no bigger gig than performing with an orchestra. (OK, there are stadiums and arenas and such, but I’m talking artistically.) He’s teamed up with Andy Thompson, who handled the arrangements for Dessa’s similar gig with the Minnesota Orchestra, which may give you a hint of what he’s got planned. Or maybe not—you never know with Nur-D. $49-$99. 8 p.m. 1111 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; find more info here. April 5-6.—Keith Harris 

Marc Ribot: The Jazz-Bins

Dakota

Marc Ribot is a player who loves a concept. As a bandleader, the guitarist has adapted his spiky lines to Cuban montuno and John Zorn compositions over the years, and that’s not even counting his many gigs as a sideman. (You may have heard him on Tom Waits or Elvis Costello records without knowing his name.) He last came through town in June 2023 with Ceramic Dog; almost a conventional rock band by Ribot’s standards, if not by anyone else’s, the trio gives voice to Ribot’s righteous lefty indignation. Now, belatedly inspired by a stint in the ’70s touring with Brother Jack McDuff, Ribot’s formed a jazz organ trio with Hammond B-3 ace Greg Lewis and powerhouse drummer Joe Dyson. Ribot says he’s always thought that McDuff’s music had an affinity with the punk being shaped in New York City at the time, and this is his chance to explore that common ground. $35-$45. 7 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; find more info here. April 11.—Keith Harris  

No-No Boy

Cedar Cultural Center

The child of Vietnamese refugees, raised in Nashville, Julian Saporiti is drawn to cross cultural collisions, like the Japanese-American jazz band that made a WWII Wyoming internment camp feel a little more like home or the immigrants’ son who names his Chrysler after Ho Chi Minh. Saporiti’s 2021 album as No-No Boy, 1975, set carefully researched historical stories (the project was part of his Brown doctoral thesis) to solid, unflashy melodies; his show at the Cedar the following year was even better. Expecting at least a little academic stiffness, I was unprepared for what a relaxed performer and storyteller Saporiti was. Last fall, Saporiti released a new No-No Boy album, Empire Electric, which is a bit more adventurous musically, combining samples of Asian instruments like koto and guzheng with banjos and lap-steel. Lyrically, it’s a bit more abstract than the direct narratives of 1975 were, but there’s a payoff on songs like “Little Monk,” which I think is about the tension between zen and hypocrisy. Maybe glance at the lyrics sheet and review Saporiti’s sharp liner notes before the show—you always get more out of class if you do the reading. With the Umamies. $23/$28. 416 Cedar Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here. April 12.—Keith Harris 

Waxahatchee 

Palace Theatre

One of my biggest “music guy” pet peeves is a tendency for knee-jerk exaltation when a favorite artist does… literally anything. Annoying levels of fandom often lead to critical blinders, which is why I constantly check my impulse to say Waxahatchee mastermind Katie Cruchtfield just keeps leveling up. With that self-conscious throat clearing out of the way, yes, I do believe the 34-year-old Alabama native is at the top of her astonishing career. The trajectory should be well-known to anyone reading this far: Crutchfield began with scratchy, lo-fi confessions, graduated to roaring indie rock, and, with 2020’s Saint Cloud, made an obvious-yet-skill pivot to warm country-rock. No matter the arrangements, everything is undergirded by generational songwriting talent and a voice merges Lucinda’s personality with Patsy’s technical beauty. Tigers Blood, the sixth Waxa LP that’s due out Friday, seems cut from similar cloth, and all three advance singles have been (I swear I’m checking myself!) breathtaking; hot-shit guitarist MJ Lenderman and one of indie's safest producer bets, Brad Cook, helped make sure of that. What an absolute treat to grow up with this discography and watch it grow. Good Morning opens at the Palace. $35+. 7 p.m. 17. W. 7th Place, St. Paul; find more info hereApril 19.—Jay Boller

Cornbread's 97th B-Day Party Extravaganza

Hook & Ladder

Somebody oughta write a damn book about James Samuel "Cornbread" Harris Sr.—and, in fact, somebody has. Former City Pages music editor Andrea Swensson’s Deeper Blues: The Life, Songs, and Salvation of Cornbread Harris is due out this summer. The one-man Minnesota music institution is, remarkably, still tearing up local stages with regularity, and tonight he’ll do what he does best while surrounded by friends, collaborators, and well-wishers. If you’re reading this far and are somehow unfamiliar with Cornbread, you should know that he’s credited with co-writing our state’s first rock ‘n’ roll recording (1955’s "Hi Yo Silver," with Augie Garcia), basically inventing the storied West Bank blues/jazz scene, and fathering another local legend (James Samuel "Jimmy Jam" Harris III). I saw Mr. Harris perform in the heat last summer at the State Fair amid the hunky firemen, and can confirm he has still got it. $15-$25. 6 p.m. 3010 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here. April 25.—Jay Boller 

Nicki Minaj

Target Center

With her ever-shifting array of daffy personae, her refusal to distinguish between pop and rap, and her giddy delight in world domination, Nicki Minaj redefined the possibilities for women in hip-hop a decade and a half ago. That’s just a fact. Too much social media drama and too many petty beefs with other equally deserving women later, that can be hard to remember, and despite its memory-jogging title, her latest album, Pink Friday 2, doesn’t quite recall the glory days of its 2010 predecessor. Tracks swipe hooks whole from (in decreasing order of effectiveness) Junior Senior, Lumidee, Rick James, Blondie, and Cyndi Lauper; her references are dated (Christopher Reeve and Kelly Bundy are mentioned on the same track, and on one of the good ones, too). But when she simply prances past the haters, rather than trading bitter barbs (barbz?), or looks back at her childhood, or forward to her son’s, that’s when you’ll remember the old Nicki. She may no longer be the aspirational figure she first emerged as, but I bet she still puts on a hell of a show. With Monica. $79.50 and up. 8 p.m. 600 N. First Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here. April 27.—Keith Harris 

Ber

Fine Line

Don’t you hate when critics are like “Believe the hype!” First off, that wasn’t even a clever thing to say 30 years ago (see also: any riff on “don’t call it a comeback”). More importantly, critics are the ones who hype things! “Believe the hype!” is as untrustworthy as saying “Trust me!” But… well… um, the hype around overnight sensation and Current darling Berit Dybing? It is, erm, quite credible. Ber’s 2023 EP Halfway, among my favorite local releases of the year, was a perfect antidote to wishing you were young again, chronicling the dating frustrations of today’s under-30s with humor and depth. And performing as part of First Ave’s Best New Bands in January, Ber came across as an onstage natural. Judging from her two 2024 singles about fear of commitment, “Room For You” (about overcoming her own) and “It’s Impressive” (about being hurt by some boy’s), she seems to be headed in the direction of balladic sincerity, which may be a wise career decision as long as it doesn’t sacrifice her candor, which it hasn’t so far. ‘Cause she’s the real deal. Trust me. $20. 7 p.m. 318 N. First Ave., Minneapolis; find info here. May 3.—Keith Harris 

Mannequin Pussy CJ Harvey

Mannequin Pussy

Fine Line

This Philadelphia band’s latest album, I Got Heaven, leads off with the title track, on which Marisa Dabice asks the important musical question that centuries of theological debate have somehow passed over: “What if Jesus himself ate my fucking snatch?” Though the album doesn’t get any more intense from there—that’d be asking a lot—it rocks plenty, especially on the one where Dabice boasts? (admits? laments?) “I got a loud bark, deep bite” and on a few where the band returns to their hardcore youth. Tuneful even at its punkiest, I Got Heaven is also pretty and vulnerable in new ways for MP, without even undercutting any of the rage and desire and exhibitionism—you know, all that great stuff you want from a world-class rock band. With Soul Glo. 8 p.m. $22.50-$37.50. 318 N. First Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here. May 7.—Keith Harris 

The Messthetics with James Brandon Lewis

Turf Club

On their own, the Messthetics—the rhythm section from Fugazi teamed with guitar whiz Anthony Pirog—already have more jam than most rockers gone improv. So it was exciting to hear that the trio had teamed up with one of the most ambitious young saxophonists in jazz (41 still counts as young in this context) on The Messthetics with James Brandon Lewis. It’s even more exciting that we’ve got the chance to catch this quartet live. Both with his regular quartet and as leader of the Red Lily Quintet, Lewis has shown himself to be one of those guys sharp enough to know that the choice between trad and avant is a false one. His sound is big and inviting without pandering and his tastes are broad—he recorded a Mahalia Jackson tribute album last year, as a nod to his gospel roots. He slides into the Messthetics’ groove so neatly you’d think he was a regular. $20/$22. 8 p.m. 1601 University Ave. W., St. Paul; find more info here. May 9.—Keith Harris 

LCD Soundsystem

Armory

Farewell show? What farewell show? In 2011, around the same time N+1 was asking “What Was the Hipster?” James Murphy made a bigger deal of hanging up his rock ‘n’ roll shoes than anyone since The Band, with a big ol’ Madison Square Garden to-do, captured for posterity in a concert doc that came complete with an extended interview where Chuck Klosterman served as the Frost to Murphy’s Nixon. As a man of deep, abiding principle, Murphy waited four whole years before getting the band back together. Still a good band, though. They’re wry, they’re funky, they’ll make you nostalgic for Obama-era Williamsburg even if you were still living with your parents in Roseville at the time, and you’ll see all your friends. Those ticket prices may seem steep, especially for GA in the hardly intimate Armory, but you might not ever get another chance to see this band live again. Or, you know, you just might. $132.50 and up. 7:30 p.m. 500 S. Sixth St., Minneapolis; find more info here. May 22.—Keith Harris 

Peso Pluma

Target Center

We’re catching up. As Chris Riemenschneider pointed out in the Strib, big Spanish-language stars who once passed our market by are now landing at Target Center, now that all parties are convinced that there’s a big enough market for Latin music in the Twin Cities. And they don’t currently get much bigger than Doble P; he and Bad Bunny will bookend the spring with concerts showcasing what I can only call something baggy and vague like “contemporary Latin music” because their styles are so dissimilar. This Mexican star is the foremost trafficker in corridos tumbados, which combine the aggressively strummed acoustic ballad tradition of corridos, their heavy brass very much included, with Latin trap and other up-to-date beats. On last year’s hit album, Génesis, Peso Pluma compared himself to “Lady Gaga” and “Zapata” in the titles of  two consecutive tracks while boasting with enough flash and swagger to make most rappers sound like diffident homebodies. $49.50. 8 p.m. 600 N. First Ave., Minneapolis; find more info here. May 28.—Keith Harris

Noerenberg Memorial Gardens

Gardens

Looking at nature is pretty rad, right? Spring is prime peepin’ season for birdwatchers, flower enthusiasts, and cottagecore Instagrammers. So pop that Claritin-D—we’re heading into nature!

Como Park Zoo and Conservatory

This conservatory features hundreds of plants from throughout the world. Inside you’ll find rooms dedicated to orchids, bonsai, tropical plants, and ferns, while outside you can stroll through water gardens, the Japanese garden, and more. 1225 Estabrook Dr., St. Paul; 651-487-8200; comozooconservatory.org.

Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden and Bird Sanctuary

This 15-acre preserve is great for birdwatchers. Take a trail hike and try to spot all 600 plant and 130 bird species in Theodore Wirth Park. 1 Theodore Wirth Pkwy. (south of Glenwood Ave.), Minneapolis, 612-370-4903; minneapolisparks.org.

Franconia Sculpture Park

This 50-acre outdoor museum features a variety of sculptures in a natural setting, and hosts events throughout the year, including festivals, iron pours, movie screenings, and live music. 29836 St. Croix Trail, Shafer; 651-257-6668; franconia.org.

JD Rivers’ Children’s Garden

Kids and teens learn to grow produce inside this garden in Theodore Wirth Park. Shop from the garden during open hours. 2900 Glenwood Ave., Minneapolis; 612-499-3071; minneapolisparks.org.

Longfellow Gardens

Featuring downtown views, a gorgeous arbor often used in prom and wedding photoshoots, and plenty of flora and fauna living their best pesticide-free lives in Minnehaha Regional Park. 3933 E Minnehaha Pkwy., Minneapolis; 612-230-6400; minneapolisparks.org.

Loring Park Garden of the Seasons

This circular garden features native trees and shrubs, a rainbow of flowers, and plenty of green in this deceptively large downtown park that’s on the way to a variety of bars, restaurants, music venues, and museums. 1382 Willow St., Minneapolis; minneapolisparks.org.

Lowry Nature Center

Fun fact: This was the first nature center built in the Twin Cities metro. The prairie preserve is home to deer, raptors, beaver, otters, butterflies, trumpeter swans, and osprey, and Lowry offers nature programs for children, school groups, and families. Carver Park Reserve, 7025 Victoria Dr., Victoria; 763-694-7650; threeriversparks.org.

Lyndale Park Gardens

This 61-acre park features an historic, 120-years-old rose garden with 250 varieties of roses, a perennial garden, a bird and butterfly garden, and the Peace Garden, built from stones recovered from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. 4124 Roseway Rd., Minneapolis, 612-230-6400; minneapolisparks.org.

Maplewood Nature Center

This park includes nature trails, an educational visitor center, wetland viewing stations, and outdoor natural play area. 2659 E. 7th St., Maplewood, 651-249-2170; maplewoodnaturecenter.com.

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden

You guys know this one. The one with Spoonbridge and Cherry. The outdoor sculpture and topiary park is open 365 days a year from 6 a.m. to midnight, and has been known to host a variety of concerts, yoga sessions, kid-friendly activities, and more. It’s also a popular photo stop for tourists and locals alike, and managed via a partnership between the Walker Art Museum and the Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board. 726 Vineland Place, Minneapolis; minneapolisparks.org.

Minnehaha Falls Pergola Gardens

Aw yeah! Who doesn’t like walking through a plant-covered structure like you’re a magical fairy? This garden is right by Minnehaha Falls, and features plants native to our regions. 4801 Minnehaha Ave., Minneapolis; minneapolisparks.org.

Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

This 34-mile preserve is home to fish, coyotes, foxes, beavers, and a variety of birds and amphibians, with open trails throughout the refuge. 3815 American Blvd. E., Bloomington, 952-854-5900; fws.gov.

Noerenberg Memorial Gardens

Formal flower gardens along the shore of Crystal Bay on Lake Minnetonka, featuring a blend of perennials, annuals, trees, shrubs, and vines. Open from 8 a.m.-sunset May through October. 2865 Northshore Dr., Wayzata; 763-559-6700; threeriversparks.org.

Nokomis Naturescape Garden

This four-acre garden at Lake Nokomis Park features native plants and is a big hit with local butterflies. 5001 E. Lake Nokomis Pkwy., Minneapolis; minneapolisparks.org.

Normandale Community College Japanese Garden

This two-acre suburban oasis features a waterfall, lagoon, strolling paths, and landscaping. 9700 France Ave. S., Bloomington; 952-352-8200; normandale.edu/japanesegarden.

Richardson Nature Center

Featuring raptors, amphibians, and reptiles, plus hiking trails through a variety of habitats. Highland Lake Park Reserve, 8737 E. Bush Lake Rd., Bloomington, 763-694-7676; threeriversparks.org

Song of Hiawatha Garden 

This circular garden is right by the falls, and includes seating amongst natural grasses and flowers. 4801 S. Minnehaha Dr., Minneapolis; minneapolisparks.org.

Tamarack Nature Center

This 320-acre habitat is for heron, turtle, mink, and muskrat with outdoor trails throughout the grounds, plus a kid-friendly hands-on zone for little ones. 5287 Otter Lake Rd., White Bear Township; 651-407-5350; co.ramsey.mn.us.

University of Minnesota Landscape ArboretumA thousand acres of public gardens, including annual and perennial display gardens, plants developed for northern climates, natural and native areas, and demonstration gardens. Visit their website to make a reservation. 3675 Arboretum Dr., Chaska; 952-443-1400; arboretum.umn.edu.

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