The big gigs for Feb. 7-13

  • Updated: February 6, 2014 - 4:53 PM

Neutral Milk Hotel (circa 1998) plays First Avenue next week.


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He’s no longer touring with Jay Z. Justin Timberlake, arguably the most well-rounded entertainer of his generation, can fill arenas on his own, thank you. Don’t expect any “History of Rap” segments but do expect a huge helping from last year’s two “20/20 Experience” releases. That means lots of elongated jams in what could be a nearly three-hour show. Tour set lists indicate more than 30 songs, including covers of some of his influences such as Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. (8 p.m. Sun., Xcel Energy Center, $47-$177.) Jon Bream


It started out on a bumper sticker and became the mantra of Low’s contentious one-song, half-hour performance at Rock the Garden last summer. Now “Drone, Not Drones” is a 28-hour free-form music marathon intended to raise money and awareness for war victims in Pakistan and Yemen. Not the kind of show anyone will be singing or dancing at — the Cedar is actually telling people to bring pillows and blankets — it promises nonstop minimalist, ambient, purr-to-roar music played by dozens of local indie-rock and experimental musicians, including Low themselves, Martin Dosh, Paul Metzger, Zak Sally, JT Bates, Tim Kaiser and members of the Cloak Ox, Marijuana Deathsquads, Flavor Crystals, Magic Castles and Daughters of the Sun. (7 p.m. Fri.-11 p.m. Sat., Cedar Cultural Center, all ages, $10-$20, benefits Doctors Without Borders.) Chris Riemenschneider


Riding the deserved acclaim of his 2013 album “Southeastern” — chronicling the songwriterly topics of addiction, death and divorce with unusual candor and grace — Jason Isbell and his searing band the 400 Unit played to a packed and ecstatic Varsity Theater crowd in October. Thus, they’re moving up to First Avenue, a room Isbell knows well from his days with the Drive-by Truckers. The Alabama twang-rocker and his wife/bandmate Amanda Shires will also be back in town next week for a Valentine’s Day taping of “Wits” at the Fitzgerald Theater. Texas country troubadour Robert Ellis opens ahead of next week’s release of his strong third album, “The Lights From the Chemical Plant.” (9 p.m. Sat., First Avenue, sold out.) Riemenschneider


When you see the song “My Boyfriend Is a Genius” on singer/songwriter Julia Douglass’ new EP, you know irony is about to drop like a puck at a hockey game. The dry wit belies the Minneapolis native’s lovely, Jill Sobule-like folk-pop voice and classically trained background (as a symphonic French horn player). Douglass recently returned after two decades in New York, where she earned press accolades and two stints on NPR’s “Mountain Stage.” She paired up with Jeremy Messersmith/Dan Wilson accomplice Andy Thompson to produce her new six-song collection, “Black Watch Kilt,” in which irony is just one of many songwriting tools masterfully executed. Molly Dean joins her monthly Song Swap series. (5:30 p.m. Sat., Honey Lounge, $5.) Riemenschneider


Tina Schlieske may have moved to California several years ago but she salutes her Minnesota roots on the new EP “Pinned Up.” She does slow, minimalist, femme fatale treatments of such Minnesota classics as Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and the Replacements’ “Sixteen Blue.” With her penetrating voice, she does distinctive readings of tunes by Bob Dylan, the Jayhawks and Hüsker Dü, recorded in the Twin Cities with former Tina & the B Sides guitarist Patrik Tanner and bassist/keyboardist Jon James. (11 p.m. Sat., Icehouse, $10.) Bream


Australia’s acoustic jam-band favorites the John Butler Trio have built up a cultish following over the past decade and seem primed for mainstream radio play with their sixth album, “Flesh & Blood,” which hit stores this week with more Lumineers-style folk-pop anthems. San Diego duo Little Hurricane opens. (8 p.m. Sun., First Avenue, $30.) Riemenschneider


“I kind of keep to myself,” Jeff Mangum humorously replied to a female audience member who yelled a request to hang out after his sold-out solo performance at the State Theatre in 2012. Fortunately, the reclusive indie-rock hero has been hanging out more with friends since that solid comeback tour, which followed a 13-year hiatus from the stage. The next logical step was regrouping his old band Neutral Milk Hotel, whose 1998 album “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” has taken on mythical, “Pet Sounds”-like status among the generation. Reviews from the tour have been favorable, and set lists have included nearly all of “Aeroplane.” Opening is Elf Power, the most unsung band from the Athens, Ga.-based Elephant 6 label/collective that spawned NMH. (6:30 p.m. Mon. & 8 p.m. Tue., First Avenue, sold out.) Local favorites Communist Daughter, which took its band name from a Mangum tune, is playing next door after the first show with Ginkgo and Bad Bad Hats. (9 p.m. Mon., 7th Street Entry, $6.) Riemenschneider


After issuing three EPs and scoring two insistent dance hits, “Hello” and “Brokenhearted,” Boston synth-pop duo Karmin will finally release its first full-length album, “Pulses,” in late March. Nick Noonan and Amy Heidemann, who won Rolling Stone’s 2012 “Women Who Rock” competition, have dropped a new single, the disco pop stomp “I Want It All,” and are previewing the album on a brief club tour. (6:30 p.m. Tue., Varsity, $19.50-$30.) Bream

Probably not able to camp at Whitewater State Park as they did their last time in town, opening for the Postal Service, mom-and-pop indie-pop darlings Mates of State can at least camp out on stage for a longer performance. Southern Minnesota native Jason Hammel (voice, drums) and his wife, Kori (voice, piano), are working on the follow-up to 2011’s “Mountaintops,” but in the interim they filmed an indie movie, “Rumperbutts,” with Vanessa Ray of “Pretty Little Liars,” in which they star on a kids TV show. Sounds perfect. Their sophisticated pop hits “Re-Arrange Us” and “Palomino” and energetic live shows are fun enough to turn hardened indie cynics into giddy kids. (8:30 p.m. Tue., Turf Club, $15.) Riemenschneider


Emblem3 got its start on a third-rate TV show, “The X Factor,” but sounds good enough to be a second-tier boy band à la Hanson. Led by brothers Wesley and Keaton Stromberg, the trio from northern Washington was signed to Columbia Records via Simon Cowell’s company after its 2012 TV run and opened for Selena Gomez on tour last summer but has yet to gain much ground on the radio. (6 p.m. Wed., Skyway Theatre, all ages, $29.50.) Riemenschneider


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