Thursday - Jan. 15

Zola Jesus

7:30 p.m. • Cedar Cultural Center • $15

Wisconsin native Nika Danilova recorded her first album as Zola Jesus in her apartment while attending the University of Wisconsin in 2009. Last year’s “Taiga,” her fifth album, is the most accessible effort for the electro-goth favorite, who in the past has come across like a cross between Diamanda Galas and Björk. This album would almost qualify as a pop collection, with Danilova’s voice up front and the edges of oddity polished away. Two tracks have received spins on the Current (89.3 FM) — “Dangerous Days” and “Go (Blank Sea)” with its repeated chorus “I go downtown/where they don’t know my name.” Jon Bream


Motion City Soundtrack

7 p.m. Thu. & 8 p.m. Sat. • Varsity Theater • $25-$35 (sold out Sat.)

Twin Cities-bred pop-punk darling Motion City Soundtrack enjoys looking back, especially when it makes die-hard fans as giddy as they’ll no doubt be at these two shows marking the 10th anniversary of the album “Commit This to Memory.” Produced by Mark Hoppus of Blink-182, the quintet’s sophomore album was the first recorded for Epitaph Records and produced such set-list mainstays as “Everything Is Alright,” “Make Out Kids” and “Hold Me Down.” The band will play the record in its entirety at both shows and throw in some random tunes, hopefully including some from the upcoming album with producer John Agnello. Team Spirit and teen-spirited Stereo Confession open. Chris Riemenschneider


Friday - Jan. 16

White Boyfriend

10 p.m. • 7th Street Entry • 18-plus • $5

Just as the band was catching some local buzz and priming its debut album, White Boyfriend is changing its (in our opinion) pretty cool name. Intended as a “sarcastic commentary on the normalization of whiteness,” according to a Facebook post, the off-kilter synth-poppers grew wary of alienating (namely nonwhite) fans. The pop-sensible kooks celebrate their formerly eponymous album — laden with lo-fi synths spliced with organic instrumentation, dual female/male lead vocals and dreamy harmonies — and announce their new moniker tonight. With Fort Wilson Riot, up-and-coming synth-punks Yoni Yum, Lott and DJ Minnie Blanco. Michael Rietmulder


The Suicide Commandos with Craig Finn and Tad Kubler

8 p.m. • Turf Club • sold out

Held up as the Twin Cities’ first punk band — and really one of the first in America to sign a sizable record deal — blasting and blustery trio the Suicide Commandos saves its reunions for special occasions. This one is the first in a series of 10 concerts marking 89.3 the Current’s 10th anniversary. The Commandos will be joined by a couple of younger acolytes, Craig Finn and Tad Kubler of the Hold Steady. The onstage pairing is coupled with a limited-release 10-inch record of in-studio tracks from each band, which the public radio station is offering to members. Stiletto-heeled punkabilly quartet L’Assassins open. Chris Riemenschneider


Joe Henry

7 p.m. • Dakota Jazz Club • $35

During a raw but elegant set at the Dakota in December 2013, Henry shared old stories of his many Minneapolis ties — sleeping in beds with the Jayhawks’ Gary Louris was a highlight — along with a handful of new tunes that wound up on last year’s living room masterpiece of an album, “Invisible Hour.” The record and the Dakota show harked back to the Michigan-bred song man’s Americana-flavored albums of the early ’90s, before he became a renowned producer for the likes of Solomon Burke, Bonnie Raitt and Elvis Costello/Allen Toussaint. C.R.


Hotpants feat. Chicago Afrobeat Project

9 p.m. • Nomad • $5

Monthly vinyl-soul party Hotpants kicks off its new residency night with a very special guest — the Chicago Afrobeat Project. The celebrated ensemble, which features anywhere from seven to 14 players at a time, fuses classic Afrobeat influences (jùjú, highlife, American funk and Afro-Cuban sounds) with experimental jazz and rock elements. Tonight’s show includes a live set from the band plus guest DJ sets, along with sets from Hotpants resident DJs Brian Engel and Benjamin Mena. Jahna Peloquin


Cash Only: A Tribute to the Man in Black

8:30 p.m. • Cabooze • 18-plus • $12-$16

First held in 2002 ahead of Johnny Cash’s 70th birthday, “Cash Only: A Tribute to the Man in Black” was created to spotlight the American music icon’s influence on rock music as much as country. It also seemed like a way to fill the Cabooze in the dead of winter. Thirteen years later, the tribute still delivers on all fronts, with Midwest country vet and Cash friend Sherwin Linton as the centerpiece, surrounded by rowdy honky-tonk outfits Trailer Trash and the White Iron Band, garage-rockers Ol’ Yeller and Eleganza! and singer-songwriters Erik Koskinen and Jennifer Markey. C.R.


Saturday - Jan. 17

Mayhem and Watain

7:45 p.m. • Mill City Nights • 18-plus • $22.50-$25

The most infamous black-metal band of all time, Mayhem may be defined by tales of church-burning, suicide and murder. But the cross-inverting icons helped spur the genre’s influential second wave, which lurched out of Norway in the early ’90s, with their classic “De Mysteris Dom Sathanas” LP. Last year, Mayhem washed the taste of a divisive 2007 album out of fans’ mouths with its hostile-as-ever “Esoteric Warfare.” The Black Metal Warfare tour pairs Mayhem with notorious blood-throwing Swedes Watain, who are still touring on 2013’s “The Wild Hunt.” Punishing Canadian trio Revenge opens. Michael Rietmulder


Hamilton Leithauser

9 p.m. • Turf Club • $15

A favorite at the Current going back to Year One, the Walkmen’s cord-shredding singer Leithauser is headlining another of the station’s 10th-anniversary parties under his own name as his old band remains on hiatus. He just dropped a stirring new song, “Room for Forgiveness,” to add to the lush and surprisingly lovely tunes he produced on last year’s solo album, “Black Hours.” His new live band includes plenty of familiar names, with Walkmen guitarist Paul Maroon, Shins keyboardist Richard Swift and Fleet Foxes multi-instrumentalist Morgan Henderson. Nashville fuzz-rockers Bully open. Chris Riemenschneider


Loud Your Kids

10 p.m. • First Avenue Record Room • 18-plus • $5-$10

A new year means a rebirth for dance night Loud Your Kids. After first sprouting up as a weekly at Marquee/Rev Ultra Lounge in 2013, the sub-pounding party moves into First Avenue’s Record Room on Saturday. The now-monthly event from promoter Hydrive Shows and resident DJ duo Wyld Lyf promises to run the gamut from bass music to techno every third Saturday, with local and touring artists. The kickoff bash features local EDM duo World Class Art Thieves, Mr. Gat, Thangster, Wyld Lyf and Alterboy. M.R.



10 p.m. • Triple Rock • 18-plus • $8-$10

After a quiet span without a lot of gigs, metallic haze-rock duo Bloodnstuff has come roaring back to life. Singer/guitarist Ed Holmberg and drummer Dylan Gouret signed a deal with Swedish hard-rock label Fuzzorama Records and joined Southern Cali stoner-rock greats Fu Manchu on a European tour last fall. Hometown fans can hear what the noise is all about on a great triple bill with instrumental prog-metal quartet Zebulon Pike and experimental trio Hardcore Crayons. C.R.


Dem Atlas

9 p.m. • 7th Street Entry • 18-plus • sold out

He twice played to a packed house in First Avenue’s main room and to big crowds all over North America as part of Atmosphere’s “Southsiders” tour, but St. Paul wiz kid deM atlaS is finally headlining 7th Street Entry. The soulful, hippie-ish but edgy and acid-tongued rapper shows a funky side on a new single, “With a Smile,” after dropping a wild EP online, “DWNR.” He’s working toward his full-length debut for Rhymesayers. C.R.


Bunny Clogs

11 a.m. • Cedar Cultural Center • $10-$12

Honeydogs frontman Adam Levy shows more of an animalistic side in his hard-grooving covers band Hookers & Blow, but now he’s dealing with animals in a more literal way via Bunny Clogs. The funky family band — with daughters Esther and Ava, ages 16 and 13 — covers a zoology textbook’s array of funny-sounding critters on their second album, “Whales Can’t Whistle,” from platypuses and naked mole rats to nudibranchs and even something called “Chipantula.” The music is as diverse and way more cute than a lot of those creatures, with sprinklings of Latin funk and hip-hop buoyed by contributions from DJ BK-One, Grrrl Prty rapper Manchita and guitar-wielding nephew/cousin Isaac Levy, 11. Jeremy Ylvisaker’s kid-friendly Guitar Party opens the release party. C.R.


Sunday - Jan. 18

The Devil Makes Three

8:30 p.m. • First Avenue • 18-plus • $20

After a decade of doing it themselves, the Devils went down to Nashville to record their fourth studio album with Buddy Miller at Dan Auerbach’s studio. Without a full-fledged drummer, the Dust Bowl dance-party starters’ “I’m a Stranger Here” is a toe-tapping blend of vintage folk, bluegrass, countrified gospel and ragtime, as blithe fiddling and occasional percussive accents make the mostly acoustic numbers feel electric. The Americana trio, led by Pete Bernhard, is still touring on the 2013 release. With Austin-based singer-songwriter Joe Pug, whose “Windfall” LP is due in March. Michael Rietmulder


Cult of Youth

8:30 p.m. • 7th Street Entry • 18-plus • $10

Turbulent times can be harvest moons for great art. That’s certainly true of Cult of Youth’s new album “Final Days,” which creator/ bandleader Sean Ragon has described as coming from an emotionally strange place. “I started buying lots of human bones and things like that and keeping them close to me, and just doing some weird stuff,” he told Vice music blog Noisey about the rocky period in his life. The resulting album is a punk/neo-folk diamond in the rough. Darker than the Brooklyn project’s earlier album “Love Will Prevail,” the band’s third effort is dramatic, ambitious and stylish. Fellow Brooklynites Uniform open. Sarah Harper


Monday - Jan. 19


8 p.m. • Varsity Theater • 18-plus • $25-$39.50

Wale’s latest high-profile pairing isn’t with previous musical partners such as Miguel and Rick Ross, with whom he made the singles “Lotus Flower Bomb” and “Bags of Money,” respectively, but rather with comedian Jerry Seinfeld, with whom he shares the new cover of Complex magazine. The union makes sense when you realize that the Washington, D.C., area rapper’s upcoming release is titled “The Album About Nothing.” He’s on tour to hype it before its March 10 release. California duo Audio Push, Miami rapper Bizzy Crook and local fave Greg Grease open. Chris Riemenschneider


Billy Idol

7 p.m. • Turf Club • sold out

Idol reared his spiky blond hair and unerasable snarl last year with an autobiography, “Dancing With Myself,” and a new album, “Kings and Queens of the Underground.” The book recounts the 1980s MTV hero’s indulgences in sex, drugs and bratty behavior (he had a brief fling with Prince’s old pal Vanity). The album, produced by Yes man Trevor Horn, reflects the swagger, hooks and bombast of vintage Idol, though there’s nothing as potent as “White Wedding,” “Rebel Yell” or “Dancing With Myself.” On tour, Idol will be joined by longtime guitarist Steve Stevens for an acoustic set. Mary Lucia will emcee this Current 10th anniversary gig with Little Man and Tropical Depression opening. Jon Bream


Tuesday - Jan. 20

Jose James

7 p.m. Tue.-Wed. • Dakota Jazz Club • $35

Minneapolis-reared, Brooklyn-based James has earned a sterling reputation for his innovative melding of jazz, R&B, electronica and hip-hop. Last year’s “While You Were Sleeping” had harder edges, with some indie-rock urges, than his outstanding “No Beginning No End,” an old-soul album with new ideas that ranked as my top album of 2013. The super-talented singer is experimenting again this year with “Yesterday I Had the Blues: The Music of Billie Holiday,” due in March. He’ll preview the album in front of friends, family and mentors. Jon Bream


Wednesday - Jan. 21


9 p.m. • Turf Club • $6

While already sonically throttling, this local punk rock ’n’ roll band has quietly been gaining steam. However, little else about the aptly named quartet is quiet, as proven by its new self-titled EP. The seven-song cassette being toasted tonight is a ferocious, surf-punk-y set FIDLAR fans could throw beer cans to. Issued by Lawn Chair Records, the 15-minute blitz is tightly packed with rambunctious guitars, Danny Holden’s punching shout-sing vocals and traces of the Stooges. With Danger Ron & the Spins and Donx. Michael Rietmulder