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Alice In Chains tonight at First Avenue

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Lookin' good, guys. Alice In Chains in their prime.

Old grunge bands never die-- they just tour small clubs and cash checks.

Alice In Chains, despite bearing all the signature hallmarks of that maligned genre, were once, very nearly, appropriated by headbangers as a quasi-metal band.

It's not hard to hear why, even in retrospect. By the time they oozed onto the stage, in all their sludgy greatness, metal had slashed its tempos and become a more magma-esque, harmonic affair-- criteria that Alice In chains fit quite nicely.

"Would" by Alice In Chains.

Alice In chains are a tragic band for more than one reason-- not just because their radio hits are their sorriest offerings, but because, a few years after they hit their prime, lead singer Layne Staley bought the farm with a hot shot of heroin. Staley had struggled for a decade with drug addiction, but it got the better of him.

Fortunately (?), his bandmates have remained undeterred by his death. They continue to tour behind some legitimately great hits of the 1990s. We'll be honest--Alice In Chains, with their grinding two-part harmonies and gruesome power chords, have maintained their heaviness and musicalitiy better than almost all their peers.

How will they stand up without Layne Staley, arguably the main element of their signature sound? There's only one way to find out. Wallets out, everyone!

18+. 8:00 P.M. $25.00. First Avenue Main Room, 701 First Avenue North, Minneapolis; 612.338.8388.