The Big Gigs for week of 3/30

  • Article by: STAR TRIBUNE STAFF , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 29, 2012 - 4:07 PM
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POP/ROCK

With a new Columbia Records deal and the attention-getting tag "Brooklyn + synth-pop" next to their name, Chairlift was guaranteed a buzz at South by Southwest two weeks ago. But at least one of its live sets drew a resounding "Eh!," with off-kilter harmonies that often just sounded out-of-tune and flimsy, wimpy grooves. Pitchfork gave the boy/girl duo's new album, "Something," an 8.0, though. So that's something. Opener Nite Jewel is the airy electronic act of Los Angeles lounge singer Ramona Gonzalez, whose latest album is arriving via the Secretly Canadian label. Claps open. (10 p.m. Sat., Triple Rock. $14.) Chris Riemenschneider

Once the one-hit-wonder that gave us the 1996 alt-rock novelty hit "Popular," Nada Surf has remained a beloved indie-rock act since its 2005 masterpiece "The Weight Is a Gift." Frontman Matthew Caws revisits the same timeless, dreamy territory on the hook-filled new album "The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy." Opening act An Horse is an unsung Australian duo whose singer, Kate Cooper, also could've made it big in the '90s. (7 p.m. Sat., First Avenue. $16-$18.) Riemenschneider

Still revered by a cult following two decades after its abrupt demise, Something Fierce created some of the brainiest, funniest and most hook-laden pop of any band, anywhere, in the 1980s. Now core members Jerry Lefkowitz and Dave Russ are back as Somewhat Fierce, revisiting their splendid songbook with support from versatile Steeling Dan bassist Al Bergstrom. The band's guiding light and chief composer, Jeff Carpenter, will never really be replaced, as a musician or droll wit. But Russ does a fantastic job covering his vocals, and Bergstrom nails the bass licks. The Shiny Lights (Chris Lynch, John Eller, Steve Price and Peter Anderson) open this welcome "re-debut" gig. (9 p.m. Sat., Aster Café, $7.) Tom Surowicz

Janis Siegel must have had such a good time with Manhattan Transfer at the Dakota in March that she's coming back -- this time with the trio JaLaLa for an evening of the music of Johnny Mercer, lyricist of "Moon River," "Skylark" and "One for My Baby (and One More for the Road)." The two LaLas are Laurel Masse, the other original female vocalist in Manhattan Transfer, who had to drop out in the late 1970s after a serious accident, and Lauren Kinhan of New York Voices. (7 p.m. Sun., Dakota, $40.) Jon Bream

Take it from the second coolest bandleader on late-night TV: "I love Oberhofer!" Paul Shaffer hollered after an excited performance of "Away FRM U" on Letterman last week, which is the same thing folks were saying a week earlier at South by Southwest. Namesake frontman Brad Oberhofer, a mere 21, looks like a lost member of Vampire Weekend and plays similarly spazzy, Talking Heads-derived pop. But his band also boasts the fuzz-guitar oomph well-branded in his native Tacoma, Wash. Music legend Steve Lillywhite produced their debut album, "Time Capsules II." Jangly Brooklyn openers Dinosaur Feathers had their own little SXSW buzz. Pond also plays. (9 p.m. Mon., 7th Street Entry. $8.) Riemenschneider

Four years ago, an iPod commercial featuring the Ting Tings' "Shut Up and Let Me Go" made the Manchester duo pop stars. They finally return with their overdue second album, "Sounds From Nowheresville," a calculated but unconvincing attempt to broaden their stylistic palette. There are echoes of Beck, the Beatles, the Beastie Boys and even Bieber on a ballad. This disc is darker, more bitter and less Euro-poppy. "Hang It Up," the current rap-rock single, sounds like it wants to rival Madonna's latest attempt at cheerleading. Indeed, the sound of going nowhere. (8:30 p.m. Mon., First Avenue, $22-$25.) Bream

Here's what you need to know about Gotye. It's pronounced like the designer Gauthier. It's a one-man band featuring Belgium-born Wally De Backer, who now lives in Australia. His voice sounds like Sting, or Peter Gabriel. After 10 years of music-making (he has another group, the Basics), Gotye has a big hit, "Somebody That I Used to Know," a break-up duet with Kimbra (who opens this show). The video has received more than 120 million views on YouTube, the song has landed in Billboard's top 10 and his Twin Cities concert has been moved from the Varsity to twice-as-big Epic. (8:30 p.m. Wed., Epic, sold out.) Bream

Two interesting but rather straightforward rock bands with strong NPR Music backing, Band of Skulls and We Are Augustines could have bright futures on commercial FM radio. BoS' second album, "Sweet Sour," finds the hard-rocking British trio -- best known from the "Twilight: New Moon" soundtrack and an Apple commercial -- polishing its Zeppelin and White Stripes influences. We Are Augustines frontman Billy McCarthy is a California howler with a dramatic, Bono-esque flair, rooted in a sad youth spent in foster care. (9 p.m. Wed., Fine Line. $18.) Riemenschneider

Having lost its alt-country tag long ago, Lucero wears its Memphis address proudly on its latest record, "Women & Work." Featuring ample horns and piano-plunked boogie -- along with a little of Big Star's tender-blast energy -- it traces a single night on the town, with frontman Ben Nichols chronicling his local scenery like Springsteen let loose on the back streets around Beale Street. Opening is Iowa blues/folk picker William Elliott Whitmore, who dug into his rural roots on last year's "Field Songs." (9 p.m. Wed., First Avenue. $20.) Riemenschneider

HIP-HOP

Das Racist is sort of the Brooklyn hipster answer to West Coast juvenile delinquents the Odd Future, a lyrically oddball and sonically wigged-out rap trio that appears to be satirizing modern hip-hop as much as it invigorates it. After landing the 2008 novelty hit "Combination Pizza Hut and Taco Bell," multi-racial rappers Heems, Kool A.D. and Dapwell finally dropped their full-length debut, "Relax," last year. Rolling Stone and Spin -- but not the real hip-hop mags -- named it one of the best hip-hop albums of 2011. No matter how seriously you take them, these guys are a lot of fun live. Our local weird-science rap act Spyder Baybie Raw Dawg & 2% Muck opens along with Illuminous 3. (10 p.m. Thu., Triple Rock. $17-$20.) Riemenschneider

ROOTS

Chubby Carrier was his usual crowd-pleasing self earlier this month as part of Tab Benoit's Swampland Jam at the Cabooze. This weekend, the zydeco will be nonstop, and you'll hear all the "hits" from his 11 CDs, including 2010 Grammy winner "Zydeco Junkie." This will be Carrier's last night in the Midwest before heading back to Louisiana for festival sets including the New Orleans Jazz Fest. Here's guessing he'll already be in a festive mood. (9 p.m. Fri., Famous Dave's Uptown, $15-$20.) Surowicz

They're billing themselves as Soul Salvation. Two roots favorites, Texas' Ruthie Foster and Mississippi's Paul Thorn, are teaming up for an evening of blues/rock/soul/gospel. They will perform separately and together, backed by Foster's fine band. Here's hoping Thorn leans heavily on material from 2010's potent "Pimps & Preachers" album, and Foster lives up to the title of her stand-out 2007 album, "The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster." (7 p.m. Mon.-Tue., Dakota, $35.) Bream

JAZZ

"The Good Life" is the title of a classic 1960s ballad -- you may know the Tony Bennett hit version -- as well as a 12-inch single by Prince, a British TV sitcom, a Zooey Deschanel film, an Omaha indie-rock band and a Jay McInerney novel. But forget all that this weekend, and be advised that the Good Life is a hot new original jazz group working exclusively in a St. Paul basement, combining the estimable talents of bassist Billy Peterson, saxophonist Brandon Wozniak, pianist Peter Schimke and drummer Kenny Horst. (9 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Artists' Quarter, $10.) Surowicz

The working theory must be that two smooth jazz pianists are better than one, as Brian Culbertson and David Benoit have been teaming up for shows lately. Culbertson has made a dozen CDs of his own, and has a studio tan from working with such commercial jazz kings as Dave Koz, as well as local smooth-jazz hitmaker Steve Cole. Benoit has recorded nearly 30 CDs, some "Peanuts" music and straight-ahead jazz. He's more likely to veer off into post-bop, while Culbertson skews toward R&B/funk. (7 & 9 p.m. Wed., Dakota Jazz Club, $25-$40.) Surowicz

CHORAL

Age remains a bastion of discrimination within the gay community. Composer Michael Shaieb confronts the issue head on in his latest commission from the Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus, "Out of My Range (and Other Age-Related Performance Issues)." As with his earlier premiere with TCGMC, "Through a Glass Darkly," which told a tale of crystal meth addiction, this is an oratorio-like song cycle that details the intergenerational struggles in a gay chorus rehearsing its next concert. Described as part "Laugh In," part "Chorus Line" and part "Avenue Q," the work tackles the issue with seriousness, but also with the chorus' usual camp and whimsical humor. The first half of the program takes audiences on a musical journey from innocence ("Everything Possible") to experience ("When I'm 64"). (8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Ted Mann Concert Hall. $25-$53, 612-624-2345 or www.tcgmc.org) William Randall Beard

CHAMBER MUSIC

Now an august professor of music at the University of Michigan, composer/pianist/Talmudic scholar Paul Schoenfield used to ply his trade in the Twin Cities: house pianist at Murray's restaurant in Minneapolis and a duo partner of violinist Young-Nam Kim, the Chamber Music Society of Minnesota's artistic director. So it's more than fitting that Schoenfield's song cycle "Camp Songs," a finalist for the 2003 Pulitzer Prize, is the centerpiece of the society's concert this weekend. Filling out the program are Arnold Cooke's "Three Songs of Innocence" (on texts from William Blake) and Dvorak's terrific "Dumky" Trio. (4 p.m. Sun., Beth Jacob Congregation, 1179 Victoria Curve, Mendota Heights. $15-$25. 651-450-0527 or www.chambermusicsocietymn.com.) Larry Fuchsberg

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