The Fray, George Clinton, and more

Piano-pop aficionados the Fray


Magic Black Pumas

Big V's

This Wednesday night, St. Paul's Big V's is showcasing a pair of local alt-rock holdouts, Magic Black Pumas and the Mevissens. No matter how cool the thought of a performance piece that somehow combines the flavor of the Black Panther Party with the creepiness of David Blaine's Street Magic might be, Magic Black Pumas do not fit such a bill. The group plays solo-driven rock characteristic of early-'90s rock radio, a little after grunge had left the building. The Mevissens, on the other hand, are a two-piece act that deliver a grittier sound. If the band slowed the pace of their songs and tuned the guitar down some it could easily pass for purist metal, but as such it teeters somewhere in the abyss of modern hard rock. Either way, Big V's is going to be the place to be if you feel like remembering why you loved, or hated, '90s rock. 21+. $5. 9 p.m. 1567 University Ave. W, St. Paul; 651.645.8472. —Chris DeLine



The Fray

First Avenue

The Fray hit the big time with their 2005 major-label debut, How to Save a Life, with multimillion sales, several Grammy nominations, and a pair of hit singles: "Over My Head (Cable Car)" and the title track, the latter of which got big TV exposure on Grey's Anatomy. Their winning formula was a comfortable variety of modern rock grounded in solid melodicism and pop conceits, the occasional sing-along anthem, and lots of reasonably sensitive, introspective lyrics from the pens of chief songwriters Isaac Slade and Joe King. More than three years later, with a live album issued in the interim, the Fray hit the road to promote their eponymous sophomore studio disc (due in February), which promises new material cut from the same cloth. Opening will be the Kansas City quartet Vedera, led by singer/guitarist/pianist Kristen May. All ages. $27.50. 6 p.m. 701 First Ave. N, Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Rick Mason


Lee's Liquor Lounge

Referring to themselves as "The World's Most Satanic Surf Rock Band," Lusurfer combine the spirit of the devil with the water sport that inspired guitar heroes such as Dick Dale and Link Wray. The band's instrumental surf rock is spot-on, and to further their "satanic" persona, their gimmick comes complete with Hawaiian shirts and underworldly black-and-white face paint. Their straightforward rock 'n' roll proficiency is further enriched by a wicked sense of humor and delightful blasphemy, culminating with surf guitar covers as brilliant as Iron Maiden's "Run to the Hills." Rounding out the bill are local Rockabilly staple Hot Rod Hearse and the garage-rock/surf sounds of Laundromat Vacation. 21+. $5. 9 p.m. 101 Glenwood Ave. N, Minneapolis; 612.338.9491. —Jen Paulson



A Paper Cup Band

Hexagon Bar

From the backwoods of Wisconsin comes A Paper Cup Band, an acoustic-based group that, for better or worse, performs music that lands somewhere close to folk, or "bastard-folk," as the band calls itself. Occasionally kissing the sound with a base of electronics, the group will be hosting a release show this Friday at the Hexagon Bar for its recently completed Detroit vs. Farming album, released via Anti-Civ Records. Joining A Paper Cup Band will be its label-mates Bouncer Fighter and ShugE, as well as the Absent Arch and Sleeping in the Aviary. The date kicks of a nationwide, or at least Western-nationwide, tour that will take the group to California and back. So if you stop by the Hexagon, like what you hear, and will coincidentally be around the greater Reno, Nevada, area early in February, you'll have another opportunity to enjoy the band. 21+. Free. 9 p.m. 2600 27th Ave. S, Minneapolis; 612.722.3454. —Chris DeLine

Spaz Jazz Revival

Throwbacks Grille & Pub

If the pop-culture conflagration of '80s nostalgia has torched your world, leaving you shivering in your undies for the next big thing, avoid Spaz Jazz Revival. The band, whose brand of self-described "mustache rock" moves past silly into the realm of the ridiculous, mingles a party platter of musical guilty pleasures with well-placed onstage banter to create a surprisingly watertight package. From Michael Jackson to Huey Lewis and Frank Zappa, the crew's repertoire of stale songs that never go bad ensures that socially lubricated audiences feel the noize. Proud seedsmen of authentic lip foliage, the group members occasionally get into onstage wet-mustache contests. Come ready to dance, But don't burn out on Aqua Net before their signature number, a rawking rendition of "Maneater" by lead vocalist Michael Lannier—the spitting image of a young John Oates. 21+. 9 p.m. 1690 Woodlane Dr., Woodbury; 651.379.9211. —Will McClain



Kristoff Krane

The Depot Coffee House

Kristoff Krane is the latest Minnesota MC to miss the hip-hop memo and wear his heart on his sleeve while dealing with his unresolved issues head-on and publicly, like a memoirist without the potential for career-crushing controversy. The beats are inventive, mixing free-jazz, funk, and a found sound here and there in a tight, spare manner that's somehow light and tense at the same time. Like much of the hip hop that comes from this city, it will likely get saddled with the "emo-hop" label, but that doesn't quite fit correctly for Krane. Sure, he tells some harsh, hurtful stories, but the difference, it seems, is that he's not looking for approval or a reaction from the audience to signal him that everything is going to be okay. Everything might not be all right, but the important thing is that Krane is a survivor and will endure to tell his story another day. With Big Quarters and NoBird Sing. All ages. $4. 6:30 p.m. 9451 Excelsior Blvd., Hopkins; 952.938.2204. —Pat O'Brien

Fuck Knights

Kitty Cat Klub

For a cruddy local garage-rock band still shy of their first birthday, Fuck Knights are turning heads because of, or perhaps despite, their name. The trio—Sir Getsalottapuss, Sir Fuxalot, and Lord Ballahag—recently released a free live album (accessible via their MySpace page) and will take the Kitty Cat Klub stage to beat willing listeners senseless with their face-melting pig iron. The record, which the group may well have recorded on a secondhand boom box, is salt in our wounds and glass in our eyes—and we love it with pumping fists. Its eight tracks deliver a combat boot to the face of all things musically obligatory, while not further soiling the flag of a grimy punk-rock nation. The more florid Me and My Arrow, whose large roster prompts the question, "What comes after octet?" join Fuck Knights, as do highly tuneful classic-rock throwbacks Victory Ship. $5. 9 p.m. 315 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis; 612.331.9800. —Will McClain



Radio K 'Now Like Photographs' Epic Instrumental Night

Big V's

Now Like Photographs, Radio K's Wednesday-night instrumental space cruise, hosts its last official Epic Instrumental event. Likely named for the Six Parts Seven track of the same name (coincidentally clocking in at exactly 4:20), the show features local and national acts of the ambient, electronica, and neo-classical varieties. If you're a fan of the e-bow, loathe songs less than 15 minutes long, or yearn for a bitchin' vibraphone solo, this event may be your ticket. Scheduled to appear are local guitar-and-keyboard soundsmiths Humanda, who employ loop stations to build towering sonic structures with minimal manpower. Also stretching out for the evening are Samwell Ronan and no-rules experimental freewheelers Minneapolis Free Music Society. With so much avant-garde in one room, soundtrack-shopping Fellinis would do well to attend. 21+. $5. 9 p.m. 1567 University Ave. W, St. Paul; 651.645.8472. —Will McClain



George Clinton

First Avenue

George Clinton is one of those intergenerational icons, like Bob Marley or, unfortunately, the Dave Matthews Band, that summon college students everywhere to cosmically unite and keep on liking and liking them, decade after decade. Clinton is a rite of passage, and now an obligatory add-on to practically any social-networking profile of those between the ages of 18 and 50. Who can listen to Parliament's "Give Up the Funk" (or really anything by Parliament, arguably the best Clinton offshoot) without affectionately remembering sweaty, shoulder-to-shoulder house parties and red SOLO cups? What is it about Clinton's brand of funk? Is it the whole drug culture thing? Yes. Is it the nonsense and made-up words? Probably. Is it the autotuner and weird "Thriller" sounds? Partially. What about the rainbow dreads? Absolutely. Fortunately, unlike futons or op art, Clinton's appeal actually makes sense. It is undeniably dance-worthy and unassailably fun. The man brings people together. 18+. $25. 8 p.m. 701 First Ave. N., Minneapolis; 612.332.1775. —Jessica Chapman



James Buckley Trio

Kitty Cat Klub

No stranger to the Dinkytown venue, James Buckley is returning to the Kitty Cat Klub Tuesday, bringing with him one of the best modern jazz acts in the Twin Cities. Following the strong reception to 2007's Stitches, the James Buckley Trio has been continually performing throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul—the consistent lineup of J.T. Bates, Bryan Nichols, and Buckley solidifying the group's role among the local musical landscape. In addition to playing the role of composer and bassist in the Trio, Buckley also acts as the bassist in the local electronic-hybrid act Mystery Palace, a position that has further helped establish the musician as one of most prevalent of the past year. 9 p.m. 315 14th Ave. SE, Minneapolis; 612.331.9800. —Chris DeLine

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