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Preview: Alabama Shakes 

Noah Bonaparte Pais on Brittany Howard and company

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Step through the Sugar Mill's gearbox entrance and you might as well be walking through the looking glass. A fickle home to varied one-night stands from bridal exhibitions to MOM's Ball exhibitionists, the 3,000-capacity venue also is among the few spaces in town that can accommodate tweener concerts, those acts that may be too large for a club yet too small for an arena. These also vary wildly: A Sugar Mill booking is likely the only common denominator between British dubstepper Rusko and unstoppable believer Journey. Though they represent different genres and drawing powers, the three bands on Friday's bill are more of the same mind. Alabama Shakes' early-2012 visit packed One Eyed Jacks, and that was a full season before the Southern-rock success story dropped its ATO debut Boys & Girls. (Witnessing the dominant presence of singer/songwriter Brittany Howard onstage and on record, "Boys & Girl" is more like it.) Setting the anachronistic scene are rising London soul man Michael Kiwanuka, whose own debut, Home Again (Polydor), is a crowd-pleasing cross between Bill Withers and Ben Harper; and New Orleans country men Sam Doores and Riley Downing, whose single "Wrong Time to Be Right," off their Tumbleweeds LP Holy Cross Blues, is a WTUL Sunday staple — and a fitting theme for these sepia-toned yearlings. Tickets $25, $100 VIP. — Noah Bonaparte Pais


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