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Picks for the week of February March April 9-15, 2008

Friday April 11
Nickel City Arcade
1711 Branham Ave
San Jose

The Huxtables

THE GROUP doesn't make the rounds quite as much as it once did, but the Huxtables remain Santa Cruz's consummate indie power-pop band, mixing sweetness, humor and snarl in a way that has become the band's signature. It's a bit surprising that a band that became a jokey lark, a Slow Gherkin side project, evolved into one of the town's most venerable bands, but it's more surprising that it's not huge—the hooks and jokes sound as fresh as they did when the band first plugged in and declared its loyalty to the Dungeon Master's Guide. Trash-rock revivalist the Luxury Sweets represents the other end of the local indie generational spectrum, and the Huxtables' bratty brother is bound to keep the old guard on its toes with some of the most whip-smart, melodic blasts of dollar-store rock & roll this side of Johnny Thunders. Kevin Seconds, Kepi Ghoulie, The Albert Square, Megamoog and the Fratellis also perform.

Steel Pulse
Friday April 11
HP Pavilion
525 W. Santa Clara St
San Jose

Rascal Flatts

COME ON NOW, it's time to put this Rascal Flatts joke to bed. Yeah, yeah, I get it—April Fools! But I'm starting to get weirded out. I mean it was kinda funny for a while how you guys hacked into my computer to make it find all this bogus info about the band that remade "Life Is a Highway" for the Cars—as if they're actually playing at the HP Pavilion and have fans and have won Grammy awards and are one of the most financially successful bands of the decade and all that stuff. Very elaborate work, guys! But what really pushed it over the top was the phony MySpace page you set up with that song "Every Day" set to play. Hilarious, yes—one of the best spoofs of a pop country song I've heard in a while, but even knowing it's a joke, it still hurt my ears, and my soul a little bit, too. So yeah, ha ha, you got me good, but that's enough now, guys. Guys? GUYS!

Steel Pulse
Sunday April 13
The Catalyst
1011 Pacific Ave
Santa Cruz

Tech N9ne

IT'S TEMPTING to write Tech N9ne off strictly as a novelty act, destined for the cult-fandom ignominy of the Insane Clown Posse ilk. The Kansas City rapper's output has done little to dispute this point. Cartoonishly violent and posturing, Tech N9ne's lyrics bear more in common with the shtick of horror-rap gurus the Gravediggaz or the coked-out in-joke that is Andre Nickatina than the work of most MCs in the hip-hop mainstream. All the same, Tech N9ne's cult is steadily growing and shows no signs of slowing down, as evidenced by his recurring sell-out shows in venues the size of the Catalyst—no mean feat for an underground artist with little radio, online or critical support.

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