WHEN ELIZABETH LARSON went to a Calvin Crime concert in Thompson's Arcade some months back, she couldn't see the band. Such is the curse of being short at an all-ages rock show, where low or nonexistent stages are the norm. It follows that Larson's newly opened Foxfire Coffee Lounge (319 First Ave. N.) boasts a high stage, high ceilings, and a cool, spartan atmosphere with brick walls and minimal seating. On July 2, the all-ages club kicked off its music calendar with local pop rockers Dwindle, and the date may mark an important shift for the local music scene.

As punks are well aware, all-ages shows have steadily sold out the UM's Whole Music Club for more than a year. And in May, a new DIY space, the Insur-Recreation Center (816 E. 38th St.), joined the Coffee Shock in St. Paul (1532 Larpenteur Ave. W.) as a legal venue for all-ages gigs. (Illegal shows in rooms across the Cities still abound as well.)

Now Foxfire has thrown another log on the under-21 blaze by bringing in a slew of underground stars, such as locals Love Cars and San Francisco's Swingin' Utters. With booking chores handled by Magnatone's Tom Rosenthal, Foxfire has managed to book solid lineups four nights a week into next month. And with good coffee, fine sandwiches (try the roast beef and pesto), a downtown Minneapolis location, and a 2 a.m. closing time, this may be the closest thing to a bona fide rock club local kids have ever had.

"I grew up in the area," says Larson, 25, who hails from Lake Elmo, "and I just remember that there was nothing to do for people under the age of 21." She mentions Foxfire's St. Paul precursor, the Speedboat Gallery, where for years, on a semiweekly basis, coffee brewed upstairs as bands like Bikini Kill rocked the downstairs basement. But even there, on crowded nights, you couldn't see the bands over the shaved heads in front of you.

Foxfire's brash sound system might need some tinkering, but the joint earns major hang-out points for a 10-cent jukebox of 7-inch singles, including Curtis Mayfield, the Spectors, and Joan Jett's "I Love Rock 'n' Roll." Put another dime in the jukebox, babies.

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