This week's 26 best concerts: May 17-23

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Marsha Ambrosius performs at the Muse Event Center on Thursday, May 19. www.marshaambrosiusmusic.com

Rounding up the week's best concerts in the Twin Cities.

The 1975
Roy Wilkins Auditorium, Wednesday 5.17
Frankly, the 1975 are better, more interesting musicians than listeners might expect mega-popular bands in 2017 to contain, which is even more surprising given their boy-band image. The Manchester four-piece are comparable to ’80s pop groups like Duran Duran and the Human League, but they’re also stylistically adventurous — prone, for instance, to gooey shoegaze excursions most young My Bloody Valentine worshipers would be hard-pressed to top. You don’t amass a fan base like this band’s without top-shelf hooks, and the 1975 have enough of those to rack up six Top 20 rock hits in the past four years. Last year’s kitchen-sink sophomore album, I Like It When You Sleep, for You Are So Beautiful Yet So Unaware of It, needed an editor, but its varied successes left the clear impression that this will be a major band for years to come, whichever direction they choose. 8 p.m. $25-$45. 175 W. Kellogg Blvd., St. Paul; 651-265-4800. —Michael Madden

  • MARCUS ROBERTS May 17, 7:00 p.m. at Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
  • K.FLAY May 17, 7:00 p.m. at First Avenue
  • SLEEP STUDY May 17, 7:00 p.m. at 7th St. Entry

Marsha Ambrosius and Eric Benet
Muse Event Center, Thursday 5.18
Two underrated R&B veterans here. A Liverpool native transplanted to Philly, Marsha Ambrosius released three albums as half of Floetry in the early ’00s, as well as co-writing “Butterflies,” Michael Jackson’s last Top 20 hit before his death. Since she began a solo career in earnest in the early 2010s, her most high-profile work has been assisting major rap stars (she’s all over Dr. Dre’s Compton), though her own music has been consistent and her brand new single, “Luh Ya,” is silky and subtle. Meanwhile, Milwaukee native Eric Benet is in the middle of creative resurgence: Almost two decades since breaking through with two Hot 100 hits (a cover of Toto’s “Georgy Porgy,” featuring Faith Evans, and “Spend My Life with You,” with Tamia), he’s just over six months past the release of his lovingly layered and impeccably sung self-titled album, his strongest in years. 8 p.m. $40-$80. 107 Third Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-345-8344. —Michael Madden

  • TUNDE ADEBIMPE: A WARM WEATHER GHOST May 18, 7:30 p.m. at Walker Art Center
  • ODDISEE AND GOOD COMPNY May 18, 7:30 p.m. at 7th St. Entry
  • THE SUITCASE JUNKET May 18, 7:30 p.m. at Turf Club
  • ART-A-WHIRL May 19, 6:00 p.m. at various venues -- see complete listings here
  • TAYLOR HICKS May 19, 7:00 p.m. at Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
  • 20TH ANNIVERSARY OF OK COMPUTER CELEBRATION May 19, 7:00 p.m. at First Avenue

Zacc Harris
Hook & Ladder, Saturday 5.20
This week, guitarist/composer Zacc Harris, among the busiest musicians in the Twin Cities jazz scene, will release American Reverie, recorded as a trio with bassist Matt Peterson and drummer Lars-Erik Larson. It’s a collection of smart contemporary jazz interpretations of folk standards, though it stretches the definition of that category to include not just “Shenandoah” and “Tennessee Waltz,” but Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again,” Bob Dylan’s “Simple Twist of Fate,” even the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby.” Harris’ eloquent guitar work highlights pointed commentary with a deft array of melodic abstractions, tempo shifts and harmonic changes. “This Land Is Your Land” juggles poignancy and irony, with Harris’ fluid touch easing over a restless rhythm section. An ominous “In the Pines” builds to a rock-like maelstrom of slashing chords and rhythmic thunder, and the concluding “Star Spangled Banner” is almost wistful until dissonant undercurrents lead to a distant shrieking siren. Jeff Ray & Hurricane Harold and Lesser Lakes Trio will also perform. 7 p.m. $10-$15. 3010 Minnehaha Ave. S., Minneapolis. —Rick Mason

Wale
Skyway Theatre, Saturday 5.20
The D.C.-bred rapper Wale first made national noise a decade ago with his Seinfeld-inspired The Mixtape About Nothing, an all-time essential tape due to Wale’s thoughtful, witty verses and propulsive go-go sonics. He’s never topped that initial breakthrough, but he’s amassed more than enough material since for a crowd-pleasing setlist, including the Top 40 singles “Lotus Flower Bomb” and “Bad.” Wale has been hypersensitive about the waning critical acclaim for his music, feuding with Complex and Pitchfork, and he’s probably right that some publications are lazily dismissing his new music without listening closely enough. Case in point: His new album, Shine, showcases his lyrical talent and irrepressible musicality, from the conceptual “CC White” to his forays into Afrobeat — a style this son of Nigerian immigrants has a genuine feel for. 18+. 8 p.m. $25-$125. 711 Hennepin Ave., Minneapolis; 612-333-6100. —Michael Madden

  • ART-A-WHIRL May 20, 12:00 p.m. at various venues -- see compete listings here
  • 1 YEAR ANNIVERSARY PARTY  May 20, 3:00 p.m. at The Warming House
  • LOW CUT CONNIE May 20, 8:00 p.m. at 7th St. Entry
  • ART-A-WHIRL May 21, 12:00 p.m. at various venues -- see complete listings here
  • BONOBO May 21, 7:00 p.m. at First Avenue
  • TALL HEIGHTS May 21, 7:00 p.m. at 7th St. Entry
  • PAVIELLE May 22, 7:00 p.m. at Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant
  • WINDHAND May 22, 7:30 p.m. at 7th St. Entry
  • THE ROE FAMILY SINGERS May 22, 8:00 p.m. at 331 Club

Justin Townes Earle/The Sadies/Sammy Brue
First Avenue, Tuesday 5.23
On his seventh album, Kids in the Street, due May 26, Justin Townes Earle contemplates change from the broad perspective of his growing maturity, which includes sobriety, marriage, and a child on the way. On the title track, he reminisces about the now-gentrified working-class Nashville neighborhood of his youth, while “15-25,” a look back on that rowdy decade of his life, is also a musical tribute to Professor Longhair. George Jones would appreciate the country weeper “What’s She Crying For,” and bluesman Skip James gets a nod in “If I Was the Devil.” Earle also dabbles in Texas swing, soul, and folk blues, and he wrote modern lyrics for the murderous blues standard “Stagolee.” Canadian band the Sadies blend folk-rock, surf, garage, and country, and their impressive new album, Northern Passages, evokes the Band, the Burritos, and Neil Young. Fifteen-year-old Sammy Brue is a precocious lyricist whose forthcoming debut, I Am Nice, mixes folk, pop, and rock. 18+. 7 p.m. $22. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612-338-8388. —Rick Mason

  • SIR RICHARD BISHOP May 23, 7:30 p.m. at 7th St. Entry
  • MAY CONSPIRACY SERIES: NIKI BECKER May 23, 8:00 p.m. at 331 Club
  • INTERNATIONAL REGGAE ALL-STARS May 23, 9:00 p.m. at Bunker's Music Bar & Grill


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