There's some confusion, it seems, about whether Die Antwoord is a joke. Having spent some time with the South African electro-rap crew's music and videos, I'm not sure how anybody could see them as anything other than a subversive comedy act à la Ali G. I am not a gay/This penis is for the girls/My penis is clean/My penis is strong, goes a line from "Evil Boy," one of Die Antwoord's bigger hits. On a more recent track, this year's "Fok Julle Naaiers," their DJ, Hi-Tek, closes the song with a super-offensive, hard-ass rap, taken verbatim from that press conference in which Mike Tyson screams at a heckler that he will "eat his asshole alive." They pair these hilarious ideas with a warped, purposely moronic version of Top 40 music, also hilarious, and sometimes even catchy.
Wednesday, October 17, at Liberty Hall (644 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-749-1972)
Rhythm & Ribs Jazz & Blues Festival
R&B icon Brian McKnight gets top billing at this year's Rhythm & Ribs festival in the historic 18th & Vine Jazz District. Also lined up to play the annual jazz and blues party: Arturo Sandoval, Joe Louis and Angie Stone, the McFadden Brothers and Claire Daly. (See the full schedule at americanjazzmuseum.org.) All in all, there are three stages, 15 performances, and however much meat you can cram into your body over the course of a day.
Saturday, October 13, at the American Jazz Museum and Jazz District (1616 East 18th Street, 816-474-6262)
Crystal Castles sounds like the name of an old video game, which it is (Atari, 1983). And the Canadian duo's dance music would work well as theme music to a video game — it would just have to be an extremely intense, probably violent one. Their third consecutive album, eponymously titled (III), is out in November, and based on the Web teasers, it'll be another screeching, thumping, chaotic collection of electro terror. Speaking of video games: Opener HEALTH, also a transmitter of noisy, pulsing electronic music, is fresh off scoring the soundtrack to Max Payne 3.
Tuesday, October 16, at Liberty Hall (644 Massachusetts, Lawrence, 785-749-1972)
Norah Jones' latest, Little Broken Hearts, is a breakup album produced by Danger Mouse. Though that sentence is one of the most boring I have ever typed, it's not as bad as it sounds. It's actually kind of a good album. Danger Mouse pushes Jones' snoozy aesthetic into more dynamic territory — less wine-bar jazz and Americana and more pop flourishes. And some of these songs have real teeth. Like "Miriam": Miriam, that's such a pretty name/I'm gonna say it when I make you cry. Also, Jones is looking super-hot lately — I'm totally feeling the makeover. Wait, I think I might be a Norah Jones fan now?
Saturday, October 13, at the Midland (1228 Main, 816-283-9921)
House of LaDosha, with Ssion
Queer rap is on the rise, and Dosha Devastation and Cunty Crawford LaDosha — rapper and producer, respectively, for Brooklyn's House of LaDosha — are near the top of the heap, tossing crass rhymes over crunk beats. It's hard to imagine a more complementary touring partner than former, maybe-kinda-still Kansas Citian Cody Critcheloe, aka Ssion. I have listened to "My Love Grows in the Dark," a Madonna-style club single from Ssion's recent Bent, probably 100 times this year. I also honestly believe that Critcheloe might be the most progressive fashion icon in America. Don't even get me started on his amazing Fila shirt in the "Dark" video. Locals Lazy open.
Saturday, October 13, at the Riot Room (4048 Broadway, 816-442-8179)
Danny Brown, with A$AP Rocky
Like his crumbling hometown of Detroit, rapper Danny Brown is terrifying in a distinctly modern way. He dresses the part of indie-rock star (asymmetrical haircut, tight jeans), smokes blunt after blunt, has battled depression, and raps almost exclusively about sex and Adderall. He's 31 years old, a little bit mean, and way too good at telling the truth about his lifestyle. Headliner A$AP Rocky is younger (23) and from Harlem and, like Brown, has been tagged as one of rap's Next Big Things, which probably won't end well. With ScHoolboy Q.
Sunday, October 14, at the Beaumont Club (4050 Pennsylvania, 816-561-2560)