The big gigs for Feb. 7-13

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

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

Photo: WILL WESTBROOK,

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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

POP/ROCK

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 Pitchfork.com 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

 

If it weren’t for NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” the vocalists in Pentatonix might be another bunch of former high school glee-clubbers looking for a choir. But thanks to their inventive a cappella arrangements, the Dallas-launched quintet is coming to a theater near you. Last year’s recording, “PTX Vol. 2,” features a pretty cool Daft Punk medley, treatments of Macklemore & Ryan Lewis’ “Can’t Hold Us” and Calvin Harris & Ellie Goulding’s “I Need Your Love,” plus some creative originals. (7:30 p.m. Wed., State Theatre, $29-$39.) Bream

 

This year there was no Super Bowl halftime show from his basement for Mayer Hawthorne. But he’s just as soulful as Bruno Mars, this year’s halftime star — just with a smaller budget and band. The Michigan-bred, Los Angeles-based singer/rapper/DJ/multi-instrumentalist added more retro-soul flavors on last year’s “Where Does This Door Go.” There’s a little Hall & Oates, some Michael McDonald and even an assist from the ubiquitous Pharrell Williams. Bring your dancing shoes. Opening is Quadron, a soulful Danish duo featuring the alluring vocalist Coco O. (8:30 p.m. Thu., First Avenue, $25.) Bream

WORLD

Last month, South Africa’s Ladysmith Black Mambazo picked up its fourth Grammy for “Live: Singing for Peace Around the World.” But the mesmerizing a cappella choir — best known for its work on Paul Simon’s landmark “Graceland” — is on tour promoting its 2014 release, “Always With Us,” a tribute to Nellie Shabalala, the late wife of the group’s founder-leader Joseph Shabalala, featuring vocals she recorded more than a decade ago along with the group’s newly recorded voices. (7:30 p.m. Sun., Ordway, $23.) Bream

BLUES

The Butanes are releasing a new album on what would have been their hero Earl King’s 80th birthday, and “12 Frozen Favorites From the Upper Bayou” has an appropriately strong New Orleans flavor. Past Butanes recordings have usually featured great soul singers, but this time leader Curt Obeda ably handles the vocal chores himself, going for salty humor rather than hard-soul high drama on such fun songs as “It’s Not That Bad” and “Ain’t No Doubt,” abetted by backup singers Deb Brown and Aisha Baker, the kick-ass Butanes horn section and Big Bob Scoggin on the rollicking, tongue-in-cheek “Yeah, Right.” (9 p.m. Sat., Famous Dave’s Uptown, $7.) Tom Surowicz

JAZZ

Jon Weber is well-known to Twin Cities audiences through his myriad jazz festival and Artists’ Quarter appearances. With the AQ gone, he happily resurfaces a couple blocks away in the St. Paul Hotel’s much larger and tonier Promenade Ballroom. (7 p.m. Fri., 350 Market St., St. Paul, $5. 651-292-9292.) Surowicz

 

Expect dynamic drumming at a Celebration of Life for Luis Santiago. A percussionist who died from the after-effects of a fall at age 88, he used to regularly play at jam sessions at Jazz Central Studios, where his son, drummer Mac Santiago, is a co-founder and owner. Grandson Javier Santiago, a prodigious pianist who’s staying busy in New York City, is another talented relative who’s well known around town. Luis Santiago helped to pay the rent at Jazz Central, so it’s appropriate that his farewell is in the cozy basement space that has become the most reliable and affordable venue in town for classic big band and cutting-edge small group sounds. (2 p.m. Sun., 407 Central Av. SE., 612-729-1799.) Surowicz

 

A Down Beat critics’ poll winner for 14 years straight, jazz singing sensation Kurt Elling always commands the stage with his mighty baritone, his “hipsemantic” patter in the Lord Buckley tradition, and his anything-but-shy personality. Elling’s touring band includes two stalwart musicians from Chicago, guitarist John McLean and bassist Clark Sommers. (7 & 9 p.m. Thursday, Dakota Jazz Club, $25-$40.) Surowicz

FOLK

“Prairie Home Companion” favorite Adam Granger’s first-ever concert in his St. Anthony Park neighborhood last year was such a success that the guitarist, teacher and witty songwriter is doing it again, this time at St. Anthony Park United Church of Christ, a beautiful listening space often used for Schubert Club events. But Granger is keeping the same opening act: moonlighting folk band Doc and the Dysorderlies. (8 p.m. Sat., 2129 Commonwealth Av., St. Paul, $15. 651-646-7173.) Surowicz

CLASSICAL

While the Schubert Club’s International Artists Series typically presents a solo recitalist, anticipation is high for Saturday’s concert by Latvian violinist/conductor Gidon Kremer, who brings his 27-member Kremerata Baltica to St. Paul. Kremer, who has won a Grammy and recorded an astounding number of records, is seeking to burnish recognition of Warsaw-born, Soviet-era composer Mieczyslaw Weinberg, whose 1948 Concertino, op. 42, is included in the live concert and on a forthcoming ECM disc. The all-20th-century program includes music of Arvo Pärt (Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten), Shostakovich (Violin Sonata, op. 134) and Britten (“Young Apollo”). (7:30 p.m. Sat., $15-$63, Ordway Center, 651-292-3268 or Schubert.org.) Claude Peck





 

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