Alan Sparhawk and more

Low frontman Alan Sparhawk


Eyedea & Abilities

7th St. Entry

The "special guests" slated to accompany local happening hip-hop duo Eyedea & Abilities on New Year's Eve can really only mean a few things: Will it be Slug? No, he's, like, on tour in Tasmania or something. Brother Ali, too. Seems like a slam-dunk it'll be some other members of the Rhymesayers crew, but who knows? It's New Year's Eve. A Doomtree appearance? Hell, it could even be De La Soul or the Roots, couldn't it? Okay, maybe not, but it's going to be terrif at any rate. The Entry is as fine a choice as any for this NYE. No worrying about party-hopping, a limitless supply of those big bottles of beer, and E&A's part Eminem, part Ozomatli beats. Rhyme in 2009 with them, and several to many hundreds of others at the likely sold-out show, too. You'll probably know some of them. $15. 18+. 9 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jessica Chapman

Mark Mallman

Varsity Theater

What better time to watch a madman crawl across his piano keys on all fours and fellate his microphone than on New Year's Eve, half-drunk on champagne? Mark Mallman, who has made a name for himself by being an equally talented and outrageous piano player and performer, will be playing the Varsity Theater for the third consecutive year, and it only seems to get crazier and more packed with each consecutive party. Last year, reported that Mallman drove a motor scooter up on stage and across his keyboard, shouting, "That's never been done! No one has ever played piano with a motor scooter!" Lord only knows what glorious ideas he'll have for ringing in the new year this time around, with 'fro-masters E.L.nO. and Gypsy-punk-folkies Lucy Michelle and the Velvet Lapelles at his side. 18+. $12. 8 p.m. 1308 Fourth St. SE, Minneapolis; 612.604.0222. —Andrea Swensson



Worst Bands of 2008 Showcase

Uptown Bar & Cafe

When it comes to categorizing bands in terms of the best or worse, it's all a matter of perspective. And whether critics shower a band with praise and adoration doesn't necessarily correlate to whether a band is great or awful—some things come down to good press and the right timing. So despite the contradictory name of this three-night event, none of the bands involved are actually the worst bands of 2008. But that's what makes the whole premise supremely clever, right? Starting off on New Year's Day with the likes of Young Brides, once known as Little Sister, and recent up-and-comers the Absent Arch, the showcase spills over into Friday with the Guystorm and Condo$ and Saturday with Fuck Knights and Spacewolf, not to mention a wealth of additional bands all three nights. 21+. Free Thursday; $5 Friday and Saturday. 9 p.m. 3018 Hennepin Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.823.4719. —Jen Paulson



Hips Don't Lie

Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant

Fans of Black Blondie's willingness to dip their collective toes into an endless sea of alternating styles and genres would do well to check out this shrunken version of the group, led by bassist Liz Draper and keyboardist Tasha Baron. Though Hips Don't Lie define themselves as a jazz group and cling loosely to the constructs of a jazz trio (the duo invite a guest drummer to play with them, with Joey Van Phillips sitting in for this particular gig), their songs wind through a variety of less traditional jazz concepts. Hints of dub and Afro-beat are sprinkled in with more classic elements like walking bass lines and delicately brushed drums, and occasionally the human beatmaker is forgone altogether in favor of a drum machine. This particular show is part of the Dakota's new late-night music lineup, the perfect setting for Hips Don't Lie's sparse and moody grooves. $5. 11:30 p.m. 1010 Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis; 612.332.1010. —Andrea Swensson

Alan Sparhawk

Cafe Maude

The music events page for Cafe Maude lists this two-night event as "Alan Sparhawk plays solo guitar and maybe sings." Which will be enough to get the Low fans flooding into this quaint little south Minneapolis bistro, anxious for their chance to see the frontman perform alone and unstructured. Like most music events at Cafe Maude, Sparhawk's appearance is sure to be captivating simply for its lack of restraints; endless possibilities await the listener when a musical icon like Sparhawk is left to his own devices. To sweeten the deal even more, the shows at Maude are free, leaving a little extra in the pocketbook to sample the wide selection of wines or late-night appetizers. Free. 9 p.m. 5411 Penn Ave. S., Minneapolis; 612.822.5411. Also Saturday —Andrea Swensson




400 Bar

It's not every day that a gang of 18-year-old metalheads overtake a battle of the bands contest and assert themselves as one of the most technically proficient, up-and-coming bands in town, but Rivet did just that last year at the First Avenue Battle of the Underage Underground. What began as a slow and occasionally awkward evening ended with a fierce, head-banging set by these young thrash-metal prodigies, and it caused the judges to rush up to the edge of the stage to catch a glimpse of lead singer Kevin Alter's fingers as they flew effortlessly up and down his fret board. Naturally, the band took first place in the battle, earning them some time in the studio and a one-year contract with Sayrah Records. Rivet have since parted ways with the local label, but have announced on their MySpace page that their first full-length album will drop this February. Catch them as they blaze through the tracks on their forthcoming CD in this five-metal-band lineup at the 400 Bar—with a mere five-dollar cover charge, that's only a buck a band. With the Chained, Matchpoint, Ruben, and Downcast. 18+. $5. 9 p.m. 400 Cedar Ave. S, Minneapolis; 612.332.2903. —Andrea Swensson



Jen Markey & Glen Hanson

331 Club

There are few singer-songwriters quite as blunt and sardonic as Jen Markey. When Ms. Markey played a hootenanny last fall with heavy-hitters Billy Bragg, Tom Morello, and Ike Reilly, she had all the men doubling over with laughter at her sarcastic, local landmark-checking country ballad "Minneapolis or You," showing that she had the chops and the wit to assert herself as one of the boys. Get a load of these lyrics: "I'd rather drink Muddy Waters coffee, than to stick around here with you/Or do it underneath the Cherry Spoon, or hang out at Déjà Vu/I used to love you baby, even more than the Como Zoo/But I don't know which I hate more, Minneapolis or you." And on top of her sharp sense of humor, Markey sings with a loud, brash voice that gives her wry lyrics even more bite. Check her out every Monday night at the 331 Club, a no-cover haven for developing local songwriters. 21+. Free. 6:30 p.m. 331 13th Ave. NE, Minneapolis; 612.331.1746. —Andrea Swensson

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