We don't have a giant rock festival in the Twin Cities like Bonnaroo or Coachella, but we do have one to thank for a lot of the big concerts in town this week: Lollapalooza.
Instead of lathering up with sun block and fighting 80,000 people for a view of the Postal Service or Vampire Weekend at the Chicago mega-fest — happening Friday through Sunday in Grant Park — Twin Cities fans get to see them and a few other main-stage Lollapalooza acts in the surrounding days, performing in indoor venues for just a few thousand people.
Festival dates like Lolla are anchoring events for most modern bands, who route their summer tours around those big gigs. A lot of acts headed to Chicago thus wind up playing Minnesota, too, which is far enough away to be outside the fest's contractual non-compete zone (unlike, say, Milwaukee).
"August used to kind of be a dead zone for shows here, but it seems to get busier and busier every year thanks to Lollapalooza," said Nate Kranz, general manager at First Avenue, which is co-promoting many of these shows. "It's probably not a good thing for the clubs in Chicago, but it's good for us here."
Here's a look at the big names bouncing into town off Lollapalooza. Most have grown too big for First Ave, which explains why three of them are playing St. Paul's dank Roy Wilkins Auditorium. So you may still want to shower after seeing them, just like at a big fest.
8 p.m. Thu. • Roy Wilkins Auditorium • $35-$65
Last year's album "Battle Born" was no thriller, but the anthemic Las Vegas rockers are still holding on to their large fan base. They came one step closer to fulfilling singer Brandon Flowers' goal of being the next Bono and/or Freddie Mercury when they sold out London's Wembley Stadium in June, and they're mostly playing amphitheaters in other cities after their Lollapalooza set Friday. (No opening act.)
THE POSTAL SERVICE
7:30 p.m. Fri. • Wilkins Auditorium • $40
It was the electro-pop side-project heard around the world — or at least heard in enough basements and bedrooms to spawn a generation of Mac-music-making sound-alikes, from Minnesota's own pop star Owl City to hip indie bands such as M83 and Atlas Genius. Ten years after Sub Pop released their one and only album, Postal Service partners Ben Gibbard (Death Cab for Cutie) and Jimmy Tamborello (Dntel) reunited this year to play several big festival dates following their record's expanded reissue. In April they seemed to be having as much fun as the crowd at Coachella, where the homemade songs stood up surprisingly well on a mega-stage. Rilo Kiley's Jenny Lewis performed with them at earlier dates, but the role of the sexy harmonizing singer is currently being filled by Laura Burhenn of Omaha's Mynabirds. Wedded pop duo Mates of State, with Minnesota native Jason Hammel, opens.
7:30 p.m. Tue. • Wilkins Auditorium • $36
Even these modern maestros of brood have grown too big for First Avenue, having previously sold out a two-night stand there and then making a No. 3 showing Billboard with their new album, "Trouble Will Find Me." The record is more hushed and downbeat — although lyrically it's quite optimistic, too — and there's justifiable fear its lush nuances will get lost in the venue's cavernous space. One thing's for sure: Singer Matt Berninger can't teeter off the balcony at the Roy the way he's done at First Ave. British trio Daughter opens.
7:30 p.m. Mon. • Orpheum Theatre • sold out
After all the widespread acclaim and a No. 1 Billboard debut for their new album, "Modern Vampires of the City," the New York preppies who introduced horchata and kwassa-kwassa into indie-rock lingo have never been hotter. Their local theater gig is the smallest date on their tour, and it was only added late to the itinerary — seemingly as a trade for a Lollapalooza after-party (they play second-to-last on the big stage Sunday). They've been hit-or-miss at prior local shows, but the critical raves have continued as they playing the sleeker and more poppy new tunes on tour. The High Highs, a Bon Iver-like electro-folk duo from Australia, open.
8:30 p.m. Mon. • Fine Line • sold out
He's only 19, which is part of the reason this edgy, word-playing folkie from Nottingham — who cuts his hair like a Gallagher brother and cuts his recordings like a punk-rocker — has gotten oodles of media attention in his native England. And that, in turn, helps explain why 89.3 the Current has been heavily playing his cigarette-endorsing single "Lightning Bolt" and other songs from his eponymous debut album, already platinum in U.K. sales. He easily could've sold out First Ave, but like a lot of hype-riding Brits of late (Alt-J, Savages), he's sticking to a smaller club for his local debut. Local teen folk-rocker Lydia Hoglund of Bomba de Luz opens.