The Fair’s Over (And So Is Summer?) But You Still Have Your Complete Concert Calendar: September 5-11
Pretty much all the live music you can catch in Twin Cities clubs and parks this week.
2:45 PM CDT on September 5, 2023
A pretty stacked weekend, from the looks of it.
Tuesday, September 5
Wednesday, September 6
Thursday, September 7
- Poppy and PVRIS with Pom Pom Squad @ First Avenue—Poppy's brand of cyborg pop, equal parts cute and venomous, is a hard schtick to maintain, and her latest single, "Knockoff" has me concerned. On it, Poppy sings about wanting "that real shit, real authentic," whatever that could mean. So I'm happy to hear her sing the more in-character "Life is a commercial for death/And you're hypnotized by the advertisement" on her other new single, "Church Outfit." Openers Pom Pom Squad have been opening for several big-name acts on the strength of 2021's Death of a Cheerleader, and I'm looking forward to how head cheerleader Mia Berrin follows it up.
- Second Annual Tribute to Big Star @ Parkway—Alex Chilton's band was essentially the Velvet Underground of power-pop, providing a blueprint of chiming, rerouted riffs for college rockers and other weirdos in the '80s to recreate guitar rock. (One group of 'em even wrote a pretty good song about Alex.) Tonight, a bunch of esteemed local rockers will give them their due.
- Pretenders @ 7th St Entry—Yes, those Pretenders. Yes, that Entry. And yes, if you're just now finding out about this rare small-club show, it's way too late—this sold out almost immediately. Congrats to anyone who gets to see Chrissie Hynde and the guys up close.
Friday, September 8
- Ear Coffee VI with Early Eyes, Anita Velveeta, 12th House Sun, and Psylo @ Cedar Cultural Center—Racket made a big deal outta turning two last month, but the folks over at Ear Coffee have been doing their thing for six years now, which is, I believe, about three times as long. Born as a music blog, later branching into the world of podcasts and performances, they’ve got a great local lineup that’s just the thing to perk (coffee term) you up. Headliners Early Eyes took their zippy indie funk/pop to new heights on Look Alive!. Anita Velveeta’s neo-grunge is just the right mix of catchy and frantic, and her ‘tween-song banter is just as entertaining. 12th House Sun proudly call themselves emo-shoegaze. (I remember when bands who clearly played either of those wouldn’t fess up!) And Psylo is all over the place stylistically in a way that’s exhilarating rather than messy—except when they want to be messy, which we all do sometimes.
- Ween @ Surly Brewing Festival Field—It really is a tale of two concerts in early September at Surly. On one hand, you’ve got the rock ‘n’ roll mad scientists of Ween, whose outrageous career has been spent flipping off any notion of genre confinement. And, on the other, you’ve got soul-rock schmaltzers Train playing on 9/11 three days later. But we’re here to talk about Ween, who rock. Formed in 1984 by junior high buddies Gene and Dean Ween (not their legal names), the Pennsylvania group graduated from the lo-fi punk of their early years on Minneapolis’s own Twin/Tone Records to grand, bizarre, and always catchy artistic statements like 1997’s The Mollusk on major labels. Ween split in 2012, reunited in 2015, and played sporadic comeback shows, including a '16 one at St. Paul’s Roy Wilkins Auditorium, before Covid shut things down. This run of shows is being billed as their very major reunion tour, which is surely sweet news for their Deadhead-level devotees.
Saturday, September 9
- City Country Fest @ Palmer's—City Country Collective heads to Palmer’s this weekend for the first-annual City Country Fest, with a 10-band showcase of local country, rock, and Americana. The fun starts on the outside stage, where Goatroper will set things off at 3 and Turn Turn Turn winds down the outdoor activities at 9. But the night is young: This is just when things move inside for James Eugene Russle, The Right Here, and, finally, Nato Coles and the Blue Diamond Band.
- Selby Ave Jazz Fest @ Selby at Milton—Since 2002, this beautiful celebration of music and community has shut down Selby for a day of great live jazz. Among this year’s performers: the Selby Avenue Brass Band, students and staff from Walker|West Music Academy, the enormous Brio Brass collective, trumpeter/bandleader Solomon J. Parham's Urban Legends of Jazz, uplifting duo Pippi & Daniel and, as headliner, New York City’s smooth jazz saxophone/flute ace Najee. As always, the block will be lined with arts and food vendors, the latter of which will include Taste the Real Nawlins, West Indies Soul Food Truck, and Logan’s Catfish.
- Zorn @ 70 @ Walker Art Center—You only turn 70 once, even if you’re John Zorn. The genre-smashing experimentalist has amassed a colossal body of work over the years, rooted in classical music but boldly improvisational, taking on rock, jazz, traditional Jewish music, and whatever else has come his way. He’s the kind of figure who practically demands an excessive celebration, and with 12 hours of performance, in various locales, Minneapolis is giving him one. From noon to 4:30, several Zorn ensembles will perform acoustic concerts in the Walker galleries. L’affair de Zorn continues at the Walker’s McGuire Theater that evening with three separate performances. First, Bill Frisell, Julian Lage, and Gyan Riley perform Zorn compositions on acoustic guitars. Then John Medeski, Matt Hollenberg, Kenny Grohowski, and Brian Marsella will pay tribute to Zorn’s more cacophonous side. The birthday boy himself will lead his New Masada Quartet (Julian Lage, Jorge Roeder, and Kenny Wollesen) after that. Finally—because far from being Zorned out by the day’s events you are going to be totally in the Zorn Zone—cross the bridge over Lyndale and Hennepin to hear Zorn perform Hermetic Organ at midnight on the Basilica’s organ. I’m 17 years shy of 70 myself and I sure hope John finds time for a nap before that.
Sunday, September 10
- Do Re #MeToo: Sexist Songs Reclaimed by Righteous Feminists @ Parkway Theater—In 1971, rock critic Ellen Willis set out to prove that Cat Stevens's "Wild World" was more sexist than the Rolling Stones' "Under My Thumb" with this One Weird Trick: Ask yourself if you could imagine a woman singing that song to a man. If you couldn’t, that song was sexist. (Or sexist-er, I guess. It’s also entirely possible that Stones die hard Willis was just looking for a way to defend her boys against her most doctrinaire feminist friends.) Well, tonight we'll find out how well Willis’s exercise works as a bunch of the Twin Cities’ most powerful female vocalists tear into some of the nastiest classic songs about women, backed by a band of all women as well. (There are too many big names to list without leaving someone out, but just look!) It’s a benefit for the Abortion Access Front, which could certainly use the help at a moment when women face far greater enemies than even Cat Stevens. (I really do hope they don't play "Wild World.” “Under My Thumb” would rock though.)
Monday, September 11
- Janelle Monáe @ Armory—Janelle Monáe is feeling her femme side these days, as demonstrated by any number of giddy and topless appearances in the rollout for her latest, flagrantly sex-positive album, The Age of Pleasure. The new album isn’t exactly hotter than its 2018 predecessor, Dirty Computer, but damn is it hornier, with a very pent-up post-pandemic feel. Monáe is sexed up rather than seductive here, and that sure can have its attractions, especially if you’re similarly primed. This is brassy music (she’s horny in more ways than one) with a pan-African rhythm, ranging from electro-trap to the Afrobeat (note the singular form) of Seun Kuti with a recurrent, lithe reggae grooves holding this all together. Gonna be a party live. I wonder if she had a say in the rather, uh, nice GA price of $69.
- Train with Parmalee @ Surly Brewing Festival Field—This is my 9/11.
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