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The weekend's best concerts: Sept. 20-22

Kokoko is at the Cedar on Friday.

Kokoko is at the Cedar on Friday. Photo provided by the artist.

Live music! Why is there so much of it, and why is it so good? Not a question we have space here to answer today.

Friday 9.20

Kokoko! @ Cedar Cultural Center
This Congolese collective blends electronica and classic African polyrhythms with pacing and timbres that seem unique. Part of that is the homemade instrumentation—from found objects like typewriters, glass bottles and engine parts—and part of it is the rebellious energy, thirst for creativity and chaotic political and economic circumstances of their native Kinshasha environment. Although they’ve been together for years, their debut disc, Fongola, dropped in July, packed with daring music that welcomes risk. 8 p.m. $20 ($25 day of show). 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis. More info here.—Britt Robson

Soccer Mommy @ Amsterdam
Soccer Mommy’s Clean was last year’s most devastating instance of charmingly homemade, comically anguished singer-songwriter craft. Over raw, bouncy guitar fuzz, Sophie Allison satirizes jealousy (“Last Girl”), examines how narrative distance heightens longing (“Blossom”), ponders the mutually exclusive virtues of detachment and connection (“Scorpio Rising”), and sings marvelously drawn-out ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh hooks (“Cool”). With Squirrel Flower. 18+. 8 p.m. $18/$20. 6 W 6th St., St. Paul. More info here.—Lucas Fagen

Midtown Social @ Icehouse
Where to begin? Let’s start with vocalist Kisura Nyoto, who doesn’t make you strain for Aretha Franklin comparisons. Or a rhythm section that can deliver the horn-beat blend of a boogie, a shuffle, or a jazzy blues. The San Francisco-based sextet widens the intersections between soul, rock, and R&B with an easy joy that is contagiously danceable. Get a sneak preview of songs from their forthcoming disc, due in February 2020. 11 p.m. $10. 21+. 2528 Nicollet Ave. S., Minneapolis. More info here.—Britt Robson

Complete Friday music listings here.

Saturday 9.21

Babymetal @ Myth Live
As the self-proclaimed inventors of “kawaii metal,” Babymetal specialize in aesthetic extremes: pummeling beats, giant whomping blocks of guitar sludge, hyperfeminine pop sugar, exaggerated theatricality, and the confident delight of knowing how batshit your dialectic is. The synthesis works because the riffs are catchy and awesome. The Japanese band’s third album, Metal Galaxy, comes out October 11. With Avatar. 8 p.m. $49-$300. 3090 Southlawn Drive, St. Paul. More info here.—Lucas Fagen

Lucy Kaplansky @ Cedar Cultural Center
The subtheme of Kaplansky’s latest disc, 2018’s Everyday Street, is the timeless feel of good, communal music. It’s in her opener, “Old Friends,” a tribute to (and duet with) Shawn Colvin about their early days singing together in the ’80s and ’90s. It’s in her cover choices, which range from shopworn chestnuts like “Hallelujah” and “Loch Lomand” to out-of-genre nuggets like Springsteen’s “Thunder Road.” And it’s in the album’s closer, a reprise of “The Tide” from her 1994 debut. A regular on Red House Records events back in the day, Kaplansky’s now-rare local appearance will be welcomed by her loyal fans. 8 p.m. $25/$30. 416 Cedar Ave. S., Minneapolis. More info here.—Britt Robson

Bruce Henry plays Curtis Mayfield @ Dakota
The tribute mania that has run rampant through the local club scene finally produces a pairing that feels like it could be genuinely kinetic. Like Mayfield, Bruce Henry is backgrounded in gospel, can climb the vocal scale, and has an acute sense of political injustice without need of a neon soapbox. He is a people who is darker than blue. 7 p.m. $15-$27. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis. More info here.—Britt Robson

Complete Saturday music listings here.

Sunday 9.22

Jazz Central benefit featuring Ralph Alessi @ Creators Space
After nearly a decade in existence down in the basement of an office building in Northeast, Jazz Central has become the prime domicile and catalyst for artistic growth in local jazz. So it is only fitting that for its fundraiser, they have bagged ECM recording artist Ralph Alessi, an adventurous trumpeter who is bringing a superb quintet that includes bassist Drew Gress; and that the gig will occur in a brand new performance space in Lowertown. 5 p.m. $30 ($20 for students). 218 7th St. E., Suite 100, St. Paul. More info here.—Britt Robson

Complete Sunday music listings here.