The Big Gigs for May 2-8: Chromeo, Diana Ross, Queens of the Stone Age and more

  • Updated: May 2, 2014 - 12:21 PM

Concert spotlights also on Carnage (with a live band), OFF!, Leon Russell, YG and Dar Williams.

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Queens of the Stone Age frontman Joshua Homme performs on the second night of the Coachella Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., on Saturday, April 12, 2014.

Photo: Brian van der Brug, Los Angeles Times/MCT

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ROCK/POP

Sounding like a cross between the late J.J. Cale and Greg Brown, Ray Bonne­ville celebrates his new Red House Records release. Perhaps “celebrates” is the wrong verb — “Easy Gone” is filled with downbeat, spare, world-weary songs, including the miserable new murder ballad “Love Is Wicked.” A cheerful little earful it ain’t, but the Austin, Texas-based singer, tasty guitarist and harmonica man does manage to make his lost love songs and deserted road songs pretty insidious and contagious. (9 p.m. Fri., Aster Cafe, $15.) Tom Surowicz

Massachusetts-launched singer-songwriter Dar Williams is celebrating the 20th anniversary of her folk-pop debut, “The Honesty Room,” by performing it in its entirety. She emerged as a smart, often humorous songwriter with a flair for pop hooks. Over the course of eight more studio albums, her writing has evolved to reveal more depth and embrace a wider range of topics and social commentary. Williams’ stage presence is as fresh and amusing as her music. (7 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Dakota Jazz Club, $35.) Jon Bream

Saturday would have been folk-music giant Pete Seeger’s 95th birthday. (He died in January.) So good-hearted Minneapolis singer Larry Long has organized “For Pete’s Sake,” a concert to honor his activist pal Seeger. The well-connected Long has enlisted about 95 guests, including singer/musicians Robert Robinson, Prudence Johnson, Tony Glover, Chastity Brown, Mitch Walking Elk and Aimee Bryant as well as Sharon Sayles Belton, Louis Alemayehu, Josie Johnson, Ann Bancroft and others to recite Seeger’s written work. Scenes from Minnesota filmmaker Bill Eigen’s 2007 documentary, “Pete Seeger: The Power of Song,” also will be shown. The event is a fundraiser for the Park Avenue Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School in south Minneapolis. Read a profile of Long at startribune.com/music. (7:30 p.m. Sat., Fitzgerald Theater, $30.) Bream

At the Orpheum last August, Diana Ross gave the kind of the fabulous performance you wouldn’t have expected from the Motown queen at age 69. Well, she is the diva’s diva. She knows how to work a gown and a song. She offered Motown hits, Billie Holiday numbers and several of her solo smashes. So what if the show was a tad short and she didn’t sing “Reach Out and Touch (Somebody’s Hand).” She has to sing that anthem at the annual benefit for Pacer Center, which serves children with disabilities. (About 8 p.m. Sat., following a pre-show auction, Minneapolis Convention Center, $70-$600, 952-838-9000, pacer.org) Bream

After two appearances at the swanky Dakota, Rock Hall of Famer Leon Russell takes his distinctive blend of gospel/blues/rock to the funky ol’ West Bank. The 72-year-old with the seemingly gerry-rigged keyboard setup will play favorites by the Beatles, Stones and Dylan (he was a session player on countless famous records) as well as such essential Russell records as “Delta Lady,” “Tight Rope” and “A Song for You.” Bring your earplugs. Louisiana-reared, New York-based Americana singer Riley Etheridge Jr. opens. (8 p.m. Sat., Cedar Cultural Center, $35-$50.) Bream

When he’s not touring with big brother Pete’s group the Who, Simon Townshend has impressed with his own records. He just released “Denial,” his eighth solo outing. His high vocal register recalls Pete’s, and the songs discussing the challenges of life and odd musings suggests some of Pete’s solo work. Of course, if you’d never heard any of Pete’s records, you might be heaping praise on Simon. (7 p.m. Sun., Dakota, $25.) Bream

Hard to believe it’s been seven years since Queens of the Stone Age last played in Minnesota, given the band’s storied local history, going back to its 400 Bar gig with Dave Grohl on drums (2002) and its so-called Duluth Tour (2007). The groove-metal wizard of the California desert, Josh Homme, and his always-tight crew did not disappoint with their long-awaited sixth album, “ ... Like Clockwork.” Fans probably needn’t worry about the Wilkins’ notorious acoustics drowning out the album’s loud and heavy mojo. Opener Chelsea Wolfe might be recognized from the trailer for this season’s “Game of Thrones.” (7:30 p.m. Tue., Roy Wilkins Auditorium, $32.50-$39.50.) Chris Riemenschneider 

After somehow graduating beyond novelty-act status with its first couple of white-hipsters-doing-dirty-funk-rap albums, Montreal’s kitschy electro-disco duo Chromeo is on the verge of another breakthrough. At Coachella last month, falsetto-loving singer David Macklovitch and his Oates-like partner Patrick Gemayel had swarms of California millennials dancing like they were auditioning for “Breakin’ 3.” Now, they’re touring to hype their first album with Atlantic Records, “White Women,” full of Pharrell-like happy dance-pop and featuring such guests as Solange Knowles and Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig. Los Angeles duo Oliver opens. (9 p.m. Tue., First Avenue, sold out.) Riemenschneider

After last year’s riotous FLAG tour with other Black Flag alums, Los Angeles punk hero Keith Morris (see also: Circle Jerks) is back tossing his dreadlocks, skinning his knees and shredding his vocal cords around the stage with OFF!, one of the most viscerally satisfying new bands of the past four years. The band’s second album, “Wasted Years,” has an especially raw, live sound that came with recording it in their rehearsal space, but still offers the same 1- to 2-minute short-burst tunes and crushing riffs. Charmingly grimy Brooklyn punk quintet Cerebral Ballzy opens with NASA Space Universe. (8 p.m. Wed., Triple Rock, $15.) Riemenschneider

Mastodon shows are heard and absorbed more than they’re seen, with little in the way of stage lighting, banter or personality. It’s just 90-minutes-plus of nonstop riffing, shredding and pounding. The Atlanta prog-thrashers are touring ahead of their first studio album in three years, “Once More ’Round the Sun,” due in June with the surprisingly melodic new single “High Road” leading the way. Two of Europe’s burgeoning new metal bands, France’s Gojira and Norway’s Kvelertak, open. (7:30 p.m. Wed., First Avenue, $26.50-$30.) Riemenschneider

Xeno is a footnote in Midwest rock ’n’ roll. He began his career in 1971 as lead singer of a Rockford, Ill., bar band called Cheap Trick. In ’73, he left for the Twin Cities (with Robin Zander replacing him) and a theatrical/glitter rock band called Straight Up and later joined Dare Force. In ’82, Xeno signed on with Milwaukee’s Bad Boy, and he’s been rocking in the City of Festivals ever since. He’s got a new band, Happy Jax, which features longtime BoDeans bassist Bob Griffin, and a new solo album, “I Still Believe in Rock ’n’ Roll.” Highlight: The full-tilt rocker “No Personality,” which evokes the New York Dolls. (7 p.m. Thu., Minnesota Music Cafe, $5-$7. ) Bream

Nearly a decade since its members started playing together at Oregon (Wis.) High School, near Madison, the Youngblood Brass Band is starting to blow up. A 10-member, hip-hop-infused adaptation of a funked-up New Orleans brass band — there’s even a full-time rapper — the Youngbloods issued last year’s album, “Pax Volumi,” via England’s Tru Thoughts label (also Alice Russell’s reps) and have gained NPR support and festival gigs. Electro-funky local rapper Botzy opens. (9 p.m. Thu., Triple Rock, $10-$12.) Riemenschneider

HIP-HOP

It’s hard to say which is more momentous: a hip-hop show at the Dakota, or Carnage with a live band. With his beatboxing skills, the well-respected Minneapolis rapper is something of a one-man-band, but for a show he’s calling “Up Close & Merciful,” he’ll leave the beats and grooves in the capable hands of guitar wiz Mike Michel, drummer Mark Schwandt (White Light Riot), bassist Ian Allison (Jeremy Messersmith) and keyboardist Josh Holmgren (More Than Lights). (11 p.m. Fri., Dakota, $8.) Riemenschneider 

With his mug shot from a burglary arrest for cover art, straight-outta-Compton rapper YG’s debut album, “My Krazy Life,” really isn’t all that crazy. The 24-year-old budding star doles out hard, Ice Cube-style street tales alongside calls for women and weed as salvation. Young Jeezy was the album’s executive producer and guests on the single “My N---a,” which made it to No. 19 on Billboard’s Hot 100. The young gangsta is performing with DJ Mustard, who helmed most of the record. (9 p.m. Thu., First Avenue, $22-$25.) Riemenschneider

R&B

Veteran soul/R&B singer Sonny Knight is in the midst of a career revival after hooking up with the Lakers, a sparkplug group of hip, young, funk-loving musicians. The eight-man ensemble formed in the wake of 2012’s “Twin Cities Funk & Soul” compilation album from Secret Stash Records. Their Secret Stash debut, “I’m Still Here,” shows how well they’ve jelled, delivering tight, seedy funk blasts such as “Jucy Lucy” as adeptly as the elegantly arranged, two-part Curtis Mayfield-style title track. The Honeydogs and punky doo-woppers Southside Desire open. (8 p.m. Sat., First Avenue, $10-$15.) Riemenschneider

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