Fall music preview: From righteous rappin’ to prissy prancin’


After a slow couple of months, the Twin Cities concert calendar is picking up again with six weeks of can’t-miss (or, at least, shouldn’t-miss) acts taking the stage. As with my summer music preview, this isn’t a comprehensive guide—just a list of shows that particularly piqued my interest.

Congressman Keith Ellison and Brother Ali share a lot of things: their political views, their Islamic faith, and a secret love of Celine Dion. Okay, I’m not entirely sure about that last one…but the point is that the crowdpleasing Rhymesayers favorite will be performing at Coffman Union this Thursday, October 2, in support of Ellison’s re-election bid. The occasion makes it likely that Ali will get gritty and political—not that he needs any excuse to do that.

Arts Orbit readers will know that I’m plenty excited for Stephin Merritt and his Magnetic Fields to play the State Theatre on Friday, October 10; and they’ll know that I was disappointed at the slow ticket sales for this rare Twin Cities appearance by the reclusive Merritt. Two commenters on my carping blog entry have taken opposing positions on whether it’s worth the time and $26.50 to see the show. “The Magnetic Fields,” writes one, “while creative and exciting on records, have been known to put on pretty boring shows.” The second commenter, Ali (Brother?), comes to the band’s defense. “You shouldn’t expect a lively dance section or mosh pit in the front, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s not the quotidian Minneapolis hipster paradise, but I would DEFINITELY recommend catching this performance.”

After months of resisting, I finally succumbed to a Facebook ad’s attempts to sell me a tegan and sara are my homegirls t-shirt, which I will not be That Guy and wear to the duo’s State Theatre performance on Saturday, October 11. They’ve been touring long and hard in unnecessary support of their brilliant album The Con—I won’t complain, but it’s getting to be about time for the sister act to take a break and wax a follow-up.

As though there weren’t already enough brainy rock going down in Minneapolis that week, supergroup Broken Social Scene are squeezing in a First Ave gig on Monday, October 13, hot on the tail of their fellow Canadians Tegan and Sara. I’m hoping that one of the encores will be their elegaic take on “Puff the Magic Dragon.”

Kings of Leon, the loudest troubadours in Tennessee, were hailed several years ago as avatars of a “new rock revolution.” What ever happened to that?

There are a lot of things that Paul McCartney could learn from David Byrne, but I’d like to see him start by following Byrne’s lead and embracing the gray. Byrne will be shaking his shock of silver hair onstage at (where else?) the State Theatre on Tuesday, October 14, highlighting songs from Everything That Happens Will Happen Today, his recently-released collaboration with Brian Eno.

The season’s best music bargain is the $8 price of tickets to see Jennifer O’Connor at the Entry the following Tuesday, October 21. The Brooklyn singer-songwriter’s 2006 album Over the Mountain, Across the Valley and Back to the Stars is a classic: biting lyrics set to aching melodies, with a production that wisely refuses to trim the crusts. Her new release Here With Me demonstrates that she hasn’t been spoiled artistically by her newfound personal happiness. (Update 10/22: Read the Daily Planet review here.)

Kings of Leon, the loudest troubadours in Tennessee, were hailed several years ago as avatars of a “new rock revolution.” What ever happened to that? Well, never mind…on Saturday, November 1 they’ll do their damndest to blow the gilded roof off the Orpheum.

Unfortunately for the four Kings, they’ll be leaving town just before Bob Dylan, one of their idols, returns to his home state for a November 4 appearance at the much-maligned Northrop Auditorium. Haters will say that given the nature of Dylan’s famously ragged vocals, the venue’s sound quality is irrelevant—but whatever you think of Dylan himself, there’s no disputing that he’s built one of the tightest touring bands anywhere. If he’s not feeling like swinging a guitar (and often, these days, he isn’t), all he has to do is install himself behind a keyboard and set the tempo for his crack ensemble. The bard of the north country has been more or less continuously on tour for decades; he doesn’t so much tour behind an album as tweak his set list to acknowledge that one has been released. On October 7 he’ll be dropping Tell Tale Signs, a collection of unreleased recordings and rarities spanning 1989 to 2006—a period that saw his astonishing artistic and commercial resurgence.

And then there are Eagles of Death Metal, who may—just may—challenge Super Diamond’s “Surreal Neil” for a record number of crotch thrusts in a single performance at the Fine Line. Their November 8 show would be worth the $185 their partial namesakes are charging for top seats to their upcoming Target Center gig, but it will run you less than a Jackson to see live performances of video-game-soundtrack favorites like “I Only Want You,” “Chase the Devil,” and “Prissy Prancin’.” In homage to the Heartland of America, where most of its songs were written while the band was on tour, EODM’s new album is titled Heart On. Isn’t that sweet?

Jay Gabler is the Daily Planet’s arts editor.