The Big Gigs: Concerts for the week of May 3

  • Updated: May 2, 2013 - 1:36 PM

Charles Bradley


Athens, Ga.-reared psychedelic freak-folkers the Music Tapes don’t need an opening band on their current tour: They’ve got cartoons, magic, storytelling, games, a virtuosic musical saw player and robotic friends the 7-Foot-Tall Metronome and Static the Singing Television instead. It’s all part of what kid-like mastermind Julian Koster — a Neutral Milk Hotel alum and vet of the Elephant 6 collective — is calling the Traveling Imaginary, a touring caravan that even involves an actual circus tent. Sure, why not? (7 p.m. Fri., Cedar Cultural Center, all ages, $14-$16.) Chris Riemenschneider

It’s an interesting five-act bill with ample variety and many familiar faces. Shoegazer/experimental band Delta Lyrae gets things off to a sleepy start, followed by the duo of ex-Figures leader Jeff Waryan and Wendy Lewis, who has sung with Rhea Valentine and the Bad Plus. Then it’s punk and garage-rock time with the Silverteens, fronted by dynamo Mark Engebretson of the Whole Lotta Loves; rarely seen all-star band the Floorshakers, commandeered by Roadrunner Records owner John Beggs, and finally the Grande Machine, delivering the guitar stylings of Vic Champion, whom we used to know as Matt Potts when he was still a Loose Rails member. (8 p.m. Sat., Wild Tymes, free.) Tom Surowicz

Oklahoma’s JD McPherson was one of the coolest breakthrough artists of 2012, thanks to both his “Signs & Signifiers” album and his live shows. Whether playing the State Fair or First Avenue, he won over Minnesota crowds with his fresh take on vintage rockabilly, blues and R&B and his ability to connect with music lovers of all ages. When he spotted youngsters in the State Fair crowd, he instinctively knew it was time to pull out Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s “Ain’t Got No Home.” A singer who can croon and shout, McPherson and his crackerjack combo also know how to keep the dance floor jumping. Opening are Minnesota’s own old-timey twang brothers, the Cactus Blossoms. (9 p.m. Sat. First Avenue, $17-$20.). Jon Bream

She’s already had a CD release party in St. Paul, so now Rochester blues-rock belter Sena Ehrhardt is giving equal time to Minneapolis. On “All In,” her second album for San Francisco’s Blind Pig label, the blond bombshell, 30, shows powerful pipes, a sense of style and a way with words (she co-wrote seven of the groove-loving selections with her guitar-playing dad, Ed). She adds a certain slow, soulful savoir faire to Solomon Burke’s “Cry to Me,” delivers Albert Collins’ “Cold Cold Feeling” with the right mixture of pain and determination, and finds a spiritual purpose on the passionate original “Dreamin’ or Dyin.’ ” (9 p.m. Sat. Famous Dave’s Uptown, $7.) Bream

Cities 97-beloved pop singer Sara Bareilles hasn’t exactly compiled a distinguished résumé since her 2007 smash “Love Song.” Let’s see: She got sonically braver on 2010’s “Kaleidoscope Heart,” opened at the Indiana State Fair in 2011 for Sugarland before the stage collapsed, and served as a celebrity judge on the third and final season of “The Sing Off” a cappella competition. Now Bareilles is trying to beat the drums for her “Blessed Unrest” album, due in July. She is recording a series of webisodes, touring solo in small venues and promoting her new single, “Brave,” which is typical Barelles pop, with a bit of a hip-hop-inspired rhythm for an au courant feel. (8 p.m. Sat. Cedar Cultural Center, sold out.) Bream

Toronto’s goth dance-punk duo Crystal Castles might be one of the hardest indie-famous bands to listen to, with chalkboard-screechy rants for vocals and manic dance beats that sound like a thousand Gameboys going down a garbage compactor at once. Hyperactive frontwoman Alice Glass’ onstage antics and their lights do make for quite an entertaining live show, though, which explains why they’re a favorite on festival lineups again this year. They’re touring behind their third album, “III,” which made both NME’s and Pitchfork’s list of 50 best albums of 2012. Denver’s rave-punk guru Pictureplane opens. (8 p.m. Sun., First Avenue, $25.) Riemenschneider

No, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree when it comes to James McCartney. Paul’s only son, 35, has released a series of EPs featuring well-crafted, harmony-laden pop music. He even acknowledges the obvious with a cover of Neil Young’s “Old Man” and his own mandolin-spiked “I Love You, Dad,” another silly love song. Barbara Jean opens. (7 p.m. Sun. 7th Street Entry, $15.) Bream

The Canadian popster known as Lights won a Juno Award (Canada’s Grammys) as best new artist, traveled on the Warped Tour and recorded a duet with Owl City. Like the Minnesota hitmaker, she crafts airy, dreamy pop that’s the perfect soundtrack for a college-freshman dorm. This year, Lights released an acoustic version of “Siberia,” her 2011 synth-driven, electronica-loving collection of sweet-voiced melodic pop, and now she’s touring solo, acoustic. (7 p.m. Wed. Varsity, $20.) Bream

If Matchbox Twenty can still play amphitheaters, then fellow late-’90s pop-rock hitmakers Fastball should be able to at least pack clubs. The Texas trio landed the smart, punchy guitar-pop hits “Out of My Head” and “The Way” in the late-’90s, the latter about an elderly couple out for an imaginary joy ride. They’re on a short tour before heading out on their own old-folks summer tour with Smash Mouth and the Gin Blossoms. (8 p.m. Thu., Famous Dave’s Uptown, $15.) Riemenschneider


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