The Big Gigs: The 10 Best Gigs to See in the Twin Cities This Week
Thursday August 4
1. We party: Are Twin Cities Country fans ready to head to Detroit Lakes when Stadium King Kenny Chesney brings the party to the Vikings Palace this weekend? The 39th Up North camping-and-country hoedown once again has a strong lineup with Jason Aldean headlining Thursday (with Chris Janson and Blanco Brown), Miranda Lambert shining Friday (with Lee Brice and Clay Walker) and Luke Bryan popping beers on Saturday (with Riley Green and Tanya Tucker). (Thurs-Sat. Soo Pass Ranch, Detroit Lakes, $89 and up, wefest.com)
2. Cole Swindell: The “Chillin’ It” and “Never Say Never” celebrity country hitmaker took part in the last Twin Cities concert of 2021, as he and Thomas Rhett rang in the new year at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul. Now Swindell is back as the first act to play a sold-out gig at Target Field after a Twins game. The team will roll out a stage and speakers minutes after the Twins-Blues Jays series opener, and Swindell will play a 75-minute set. It won’t be the first time he’s performed at the Twins stadium; it opened for Kenny Chesney there in 2015. Tickets for the game are required. (6:40 p.m. game, Target Field, Mpls., $14 and up, mlb.tickets.com)
Also: The Zoo’s Wild Nights concert series turns blues with the Lamont Cranston Band, Annie Mack and Joyann Parker (6 p.m. Minnesota Zoo, $30-$40); Late ’70s Minneapolis scene heroes The Flamin’ Ohs relaunch downtown St. Paul’s Lowertown Sounds series opening with Scarlet Goodbye, the up-and-coming new band fronted by the former Soul guitarist Asylum Dan Murphy and Jeff Arundel (6 p.m., Mears Park, free); Public Radio’s “Live From Here,” slightly folky, slightly jazzy singer, Madison Cunningham celebrates her new sophomore album, “Revealer” (8 p.m. Fine Line, $22-$40); St. Paul singer Katia Cardenas sings songs by Sara Bareilles (7 p.m., KJ Hideaway, $15).
Friday August 5
3. Billy Strings: He plays acoustic guitar but his music sometimes sounds like heavy metal. It also becomes jazzy, bluegrassy and spacey. Aided by a myriad of effects pedals, Strings is a quick-fingered marvel capable of mixing genres within the same song and making enough noise to fill large venues without a drummer. His range is just double bass, banjo, mandolin and his other worldly acoustic guitar. The Michigan-raised, Grammy-winning 29-year-old has three albums of original material, and he’s known for releasing a wide range of covers, from Bill Monroe and Cher to Doors and the Dead, in its trippy, two sets marathons. (7:30 p.m. Surly Brewing Festival Field, 520 Malcolm Ave. SE, Mpls., $49.50-$54.50, axs.com)
4. Aida Shahghasemi: At age 13, she emigrated from Iran with her parents, who had attended college in the United States. Discouraged by the lack of international music programs at American universities, she earned degrees in anthropology and psychology at the University of Minnesota and in arts policy at New York University. Then she returned to Iran to study Persian classical music. A multi-instrumentalist and singer, she has toured with Marketa Irglova and Iron and Wine and has released two solo albums of emotional and meditative music. A third LP, “Event Vista,” about loss, is due out this month. She will be accompanied by Nima Hafezieh and Jacqueline Ultan. (8 p.m. Cedar Cultural Center, 416 Cedar Av. S., Mpls. $14-$18, thecedar.org)
Also: Like Leon Redbone, the entertaining Pokey LaFarge puts his own twist on old-time jazzy music with as many twists as the Mississippi River (7 p.m. Dakota, $45-$50); Class A metal frontman Claudio Sanchez and his high impact band Coheed & Cambria are on tour for their new album “Vaxis II: A Window of the Waking Mind”, opening with Dance Gavin Dance and Mothica (6:30 p.m. Armory, $37); Anderson East Brings Her Blue-Eyed Soul Outside (7 p.m. Canterbury Park, $30-$50); Eli Young Band features “Crazy Girl,” “Drunk Last Night” and other country favorites (8 p.m. Fine Line, $35-$60); Rochester bluesy soul rocker Annie Mack kicks off the Star Tribune’s weekly August Music & Movies series ahead of the screening of Aretha’s biopic “Respect” (6:30 p.m., Lake Harriet Bandshell, free); channeling arty and visual rockers like St. Vincent and Lana Del Rey, Ranelle Labiche and her new Minneapolis band Elle PF celebrate the release of their debut album (9:07 p.m.e Admission St., $12-$15).
Saturday August 6
5. Kenny Chesney: Country music’s stadium concert king was scheduled to perform in Minneapolis in May 2020. Since that postponement and another in 2021, he’s scored two more No. 1 singles (that’s 31), including “Half of My Hometown ” with Kelsea Ballerini and “Here and Now”, the title track of her current album. His usual stadium marathon has a packed lineup with Carly Pearce, whose “29: Written in Stone” was one of the best country albums of 2021; Dan + Shay, who smashed it at Target Center last year, and Old Dominion, the “One Man Band” hitmakers who opened for Mr. No Shoes in 2018 at Vikings Stadium. (5 p.m. US Bank Stadium, Mpls., $38-$475, ticketmaster.com)
6. Maverick City Music and Kirk Franklin: Franklin is the uncrowned king of modern gospel music and Maverick City Music are the hottest newcomers. The hyper-prolific Atlanta collective has released 11 albums – yes, 11 – over the past three years. This led to the GMA Dove Awards for Best New Artist and Best Cult Album for “Old Church Basement”. This record earned him the Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album. MCM teamed up with Franklin on their latest project, “Kingdom Book One,” and for a memorable performance at this year’s Grammy Awards. With Jonathan McReynolds and Housefires. (6:30 p.m. Xcel Energy Center, 199 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, $36-$220, ticketmaster.com)
Also: Scott Ian leads longtime Anthrax in a trio of metal veterans, with Black Label Society, featuring Zakk Wylde and Hatebreed (7 p.m. Fillmore, $49.50 and up); party Louisiana style with the always energetic Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas (8 p.m. Cedar Cultural Center, $17-$22); Daisy Dillman Band, the Twin Cities country rockers who got their start in the mid-1970s, continue their “Last Hurrah” tour (6:30 and 5:30 p.m. Sun, Belvedere tent at Crooners, $40-$50); Jerry Garcia’s birthday will be celebrated at the Built to Last festival with tribute sets from Run for the Roses, Jones Gang and China Rider (6 p.m. Hook & Ladder outside, $15); Local indie-rock genius Mike Wisti’s ever-smart and prolific trio Rank Strangers celebrate another album, “Hotel Turpentine,” with Mad Mojo Jett and Bev (8:30 p.m., Mortimer’s); the second annual Ska Prom features the Von Tramps and Goodbye Mordecai (6 p.m., Palmer’s Bar Terrace, $20).
Sunday August 7
7. A Republic: Who among modern pop-rockers would have done better to replicate Kenny Loggins’ anthemic style for the “Top Gun: Maverick” soundtrack than Ryan Tedder and his band from Colorado? Likeable, feel-good hitmakers “Counting Stars” and “Apologize” fly high again with movie track “I Ain’t Worried” and spin with well-matched Needtobreathe rockers from “Multiplied” and “Brother.” (7 p.m. Sunday, Xcel Energy Center, 199 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul, $23-$77, ticketmaster.com)
Also: “All About It” hitmaker Hoodie Allen went from rap to indie pop-rock (8 p.m. Fine Line, $30-$45); Wisconsin rock veteran Kurt Neumann and his revamped but still solid line-up of the BoDeans line up for the third of three newly offered big gigs in the sprawling grounds outside one of Minneapolis’ top breweries ( 7 p.m., Utepils Brewery, $30-$100); Twin Cities showman Dennis Spears does his always charming and dramatic thing (6 p.m. Crooners, $20).
Monday August 8
8. Khalid: The Grammy-nominated Texas electro-R&B crooner of “Talk” performs the first major concert in Commons Park outside US Bank Stadium in conjunction with the MLS All-Star Game. But the show is not just for football fans and actually comes at a low price. That’s good news for all the kids who packed Xcel Energy Center and drained their phone batteries for his last local gig in 2019, when he blasted through 30 songs – including “Young, Dumb & Broke” and “Location ” – in 100 minutes. He is relaxed but very charming and talented in concert. (7:30 p.m. at the Commons, 425 Portland Av. S., Mpls., all ages, $25, seatgeek.com)
9. Source Song Festival: This week-long celebration of art song returns to live concerts for the first time since 2019, providing a showcase for great singers, pianists and composers. Highlights of this year include an opening concert by Minnesota women performing songs by Minnesota composers (7:30 p.m. Monday); the premiere of eight composers featuring the poetry of Mary Moore Easter (7:30 p.m. Wednesday) and tenor David Portillo performing with one of the world’s greatest collaborative pianists, Warren Jones (7:30 p.m. Thursday). (Aug. 8-12; Westminster Hall, 1215 Nicollet Mall, Mpls., $25, sourcesongfestival.org.)
Also: With the buzzing song “Silk Chiffon,” Muna is enjoying indie-pop freedom now that they’ve landed on Phoebe Bridgers’ Saddest Factory label (7 p.m., First Avenue, $31).
Tuesday August 9
10. Sharon Van Etten, Angel Olsen and Julien Baker: In a perfect (and perhaps less sexist) music industry, these three captivating and ever-evolving singer-songwriters could fill Surly Field all on their own. But they do a great trifecta together on the so-called Wild Hearts Tour. Van Etten and Olsen each released one of the most acclaimed indie-rock albums of the year, addressing the chaos of the past few years with dramatic songs about healing and inner peace. Olsen’s “Big Time” in particular is a near-masterpiece. Look for these two longtime cohorts to team up on stage. (6 p.m. Surly Brewing Festival Field, 520 Malcolm Av. SE, Mpls., $50, axs.com)
Also: Threat-voiced “I’m the Only One” rocker Melissa Etheridge is touring behind last fall’s “One Way Out,” featuring late ’80s/early ’90s material that never got any better. been covered on other albums (7 p.m. Canterbury Park, $35-$55); Soul singer/guitarist Raul Midon delivers pop and light jazz on his latest “The Mirror” (7 p.m., The Dakota $40-$45).
Wednesday August 10
British blues-rocker Jack Broadbent, a shrewd slide guitarist, is touring behind this year’s feature “Ride” (7 p.m. on Dakota, $20-$30).
Rob Hubbard contributed to this column.