Big Gigs: Best concerts in the Twin Cities Oct. 18-24

  • Updated: October 21, 2013 - 11:24 AM

Concert spotlights on Volcano Choir, Janelle Monae, Waterboys, Bonnie Raitt & Mavis Staples, Soul Asylum & Fountains of Wayne and more.


Janelle Monae

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Eau Claire’s hometown Grammy winner Justin Vernon already played First Ave once this year with a band not named Bon Iver (his Shouting Matches rocked the house in August). He seems even more serious about impressing us with his other other band, Volcano Choir. Offering less falsetto and more up-tempo tunes than Bon Iver, the band started as a collaboration with members of experimental Milwaukee group Collection of Colonies of Bees and turned into more of a full-time, full-volume affair with last month’s riveting sophomore album, “Repave.” They enlisted an ex-Sconnie boy, Mark Mallman, to play a solo opening set. (9 p.m. Fri., First Avenue, sold out.) Chris Riemenschneider 

Dave Mason has a Rock Hall of Fame résumé: guitarist with Traffic, solo artist with the hits “We Just Disagree” and “Feelin’ Alright,” and hired gun with Jimi Hendrix, the Rolling Stones, George Harrison, Paul McCartney, Fleetwood Mac and many others. At the Minnesota Zoo in 2011, Mason demonstrated a strong voice and an expressive guitar. His trio is working in an acoustic format on this tour. (8 p.m. Fri.-Sat., Dakota Jazz Club, $45.) Jon Bream

Further proof Soul Asylum has firmly embraced its status as a ’90s retro band: Dave Pirner’s remade lineup follows up this summer’s outing with Big Head Todd and Matthew Sweet by heading up a fall tour featuring two other Clinton-era acts who were way better than one-hit status. Fountains of Wayne actually had their big hit in 2003, “Stacy’s Mom,” but sealed their reputation as power-pop craftsmen in their first two late-’90s records. The Lemonheads’ Evan Dando has had his ups and downs but still remarkably looks and sounds the same as in 1993, the year his band opened the Minnesota boys’ “Grave Dancers Union” tour. Not a bad year to relive. (8 p.m. Sat., First Avenue, $30.) Riemenschneider 

With a 25th-anniversary box set reissue of their landmark “Fisherman’s Blues” album out Tuesday, the Waterboys are making their first U.S. tour in six years. Frontman Mike Scott and fiddler Steve Wickham have a different lineup of their sweet-lament folk-rock band working stateside than the European lineup, which boasted some of the “Fisherman’s”-era players who made Celtic folk part of the alt-rock world. Still, expect to hear plenty off that album, along with unsung Scott classics. Fellow Scotsman Freddie Stevenson opens. (8 p.m. Sat., Fitzgerald Theater, $34-$39.) Riemenschneider

Unlike that other ’90s indie-rock boy/girl duo made of ex-spouses, Quasi is still at it and still unmistakably having a great time. The band features eccentric but gifted frontman Sam Coomes along with former Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss, seen in recent years with White Flag and Stephen Malk­mus’ Jicks. Their new album, “Mole City,” charmingly harks back to Malkmus’ old band Pavement. Daniel Johnston-like New York folkie Jeffrey Lewis opens. (8:30 p.m. Sun., 7th Street Entry, $15.) Riemenschneider

Is the teaming of Aimee Mann and Ted Leo at the Dakota a dress rehearsal for their appearance on MPR’s “Wits” in December? With her penetrating songs about vivid characters and droll wit (have you seen her on “Portlandia”?), Mann’s 2012 album, “Charmer,” was a return to engaging alt-pop after several years of exploring more downbeat themes. Leo, a veteran of the New York punk scene, has won many fans with his band, the Pharmacists, but he’ll be working solo here. (7 p.m. Sun.-Mon. Dakota, $40-$60.) Bream

The 1975 doesn’t sound like any of the other famous bands from Manchester, England (Joy Division, Buzzcocks, Stone Roses), and in fact doesn’t sound very British at all. The newcomer quartet falls more in line with Las Vegas bands such as the Killers and Imagine Dragons with its slick, anthemic, New Wave-y rock sound, as heard in the PG-rated single “Sex.” Still, the Brits love these kids, as evidenced by their self-titled debut shooting to No. 1 on the U.K. chart last month over Nine Inch Nails. (8:30 p.m. Mon., Varsity Theater, $15-$18.) Riemenschneider 

Sometimes Janelle Monáe seems too ambitious for her own good. For her second full-length, “The Electric Lady,” she has delivered another concept album that sounds like some far-out sci-fi movie. Even though the much-respected Atlanta multi-talent gets assists from Prince, Esperanza Spalding, Miguel, Solange and Erykah Badu, the album seems less sonically adventurous than her stunning 2010 debut, “The ArchAndroid,” and wallows at times in 1970s mellowness. But “Electric Lady” is still captivating. (7 p.m. Tue., Skyway Theatre, $23.50.) Bream

Jack Jones’ name and songs belong to the 1960s when he was a regular on Ed Sullivan, Dick Cavett and “Hullabaloo.” In the era of Beatles, Motown and Beach Boys, he had a slew of easy-listening pop hits, including “Wives and Lovers” and “The Impossible Dream.” And what baby boomer can forget Jones’ theme song for TV’s “The Love Boat”? In a review last year, the New York Times called Jones, 75, reinvigorated and a first-rate pop-jazz swinger. (7 p.m. Tue.-Wed., Dakota, $45-$65.) Bream

Easily mistakable for Of Monsters & Men, Little Green Cars are another folky rock group from northern Europe (Ireland, in this case) with male/female co-vocalists and members who look young and wholesome enough to star in pimple-cream commercials. They, too, have landed a couple of dramatic, Mumford-mode hits on 89.3 the Current (“The John Wayne” and “Harper Lee”) and thus they’re graduating to the First Ave main room. (8:30 p.m. Tue., First Avenue, $12-$15.) Riemenschneider

Last year at the State Fair, Bonnie Raitt showed off material from her excellent 2012, Grammy-winning disc, “Slipstream,” and her friend and opening act, Mavis Staples. When those two Rock Hall of Famers sang together, it was R&B heaven. Staples has a new album, the Jeff Tweedy-produced “One True Vine,” to showcase. (7:30 p.m. Wed. Minneapolis Convention Center, $53-$100.) Bream

Best known for the less-than-bubbly 2006 hit “Hate Me,” Texas quintet Blue October offers all the angst of emo bands but with the muscle of metal and grunge. Black-eyelined frontman Justin Furstenfeld continues to connect with fans in unique, tortured ways on the band’s latest record, which debuted at No. 13 in Billboard despite being self-financed. (7:30 p.m. Thu., Varsity Theater, $28.50.) Riemenschneider

Yonder Mountain String Band, the progressive bluegrass group from Colorado, is planning a series of EPs, starting with this month’s “EP ’13,” a four-track CD (one tune sung and written by each member) that is the band’s first physical recording in four years. YMSB comes to town fresh from its Harvest Music Festival in Ozark, Ark. (8 p.m. Thu., First Avenue, $25-$30.) Bream

Using its hometown Austin City Limits Fest as the kickoff for its fourth album, White Denim has hit the road to tout “Corsicana Lemonade,” another oddly addictive and highly electrifying serving of psychedelic Texas boogie-rock and Dr. Doggy garage-pop. Tapes n’ Tapes frontman Josh Grier’s new act Ginkgo opens. (9 p.m. Thu., Turf Club, $13-$15.) Riemenschneider


With this summer’s “High Top Mountain,” Kentucky native Sturgill Simpson outdoes Jamey Johnson in the Waylon Jennings-is-my-hero sweepstakes. Although his voice doesn’t have Jennings’ gravitas, his songs impressively evoke late-1970s Waylon, with just enough modern references to prove he isn’t completely stuck in the past. Plus, he ain’t all that tough. “The most outlaw thing I’ve ever done is to give a good woman a ring,” he sings. With Fathom Lane and John Swardson & Bad Blood. (8:30 p.m. Tue., Triple Rock, $10.) Bream


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