Downtown Music

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May 10, 2004 // UPDATED 1:29 pm - April 25, 2007
By: Holly Day
Holly Day

Offspring's offspring

If it weren't for The Offspring, cool bands like Guttermouth and The Vandals might have faded into obscurity, as would punk mainstays AFI, The Bulemics and The Damned. Plus, many bellies

would go unfed.

In addition to being the platinum-punk frontman of The Offspring, Dexter Holland operates his own record label, Nitro Records -- the company behind such bands as Guttermouth et al.

Thus, despite being partly responsible for turning my beloved OC punk rock into a mainstream, even redneck commodity (a la "you got to keep 'em separated . . . come out and play"), Holland's vision as a label owner has helped revive deserving rockers, as well as promote fresh, true talent.

Besides bringing OC punk to the masses, and wrapping up a Ph.D. in microbiology a few years ago, Holland also co-founded a nonprofit foundation with Jell-O Biafra in 1997 called F.S.U.

While this F.S.U. stands for "Friends Shall Unite" . . . or "Freedom Starts Underground" (OK, nobody seems to know for sure), I can't help but find it ironic that a crusty group of skinheads in Huntington Beach, Calif. also called themselves F.S.U. back in 1985.

This F.S.U.'s dozen or so members (and hundreds have claimed to have belonged) were all crammed into a tiny, one-bedroom flophouse a few blocks from the Huntington Beach waterfront, where they spent most of their time discussing how they were going to take over the world.

A guy named Joel was their unofficial leader, and when he wasn't hanging out on the beach or test-driving homemade LSD, he was being hauled off to jail for stealing food from convenience stores. In fact, the last time I saw Joel, he was sitting in the back of a police car, waiting to be hauled off to jail once again for trying to run out of a convenience store with a freshly microwaved burrito shoved into his pocket.

According to the brochure, however, the F.S.U. of Holland and Biafra (both of whom have been accused of being "sell-outs" by the likes of Joel) is much different -- instead of achieving world domination, their goal is "to promote economic justice, provide support to critical social services, help restore and maintain a healthy environment, and defend human rights."

And while the First Avenue performance isn't a benefit, The Offspring often headlines for F.S.U. concerts for various causes, such as setting up homeless shelters, saving trees and feeding hungry people so they don't steal burritos from convenience stores.

Tuesday, May 11, 5 p.m. First Avenue, 701 1st Ave. N. $27.50. 332-1775.

True country-rock

Do you like country? Do you like rock? If you checked the "yes" box on both accounts, then you'll just love Rich McCulley.

Rich sings and plays guitar, bass, mandolin, harmonica, a little piano and some lap steel on his albums, making some tuneful, guitar-driven power-pop tunes loaded with hooks and enough Southern twang to make you want to kick off your shoes and chew tobacco.

McCulley gives his distinct power-pop a decidedly sharp, rootsy flavor, lyrically beautiful and brutally honest.

Tuesday, May 11, 9 p.m. Lee's Liquor Lounge, 101 Glenwood Ave. Call for ticket prices. 338-9491.

The warts of Mraz

Fresh out of the gate with just one record under his belt, singer-songwriter Jason Mraz has been wowing critics and audiences alike. "Waiting for My Rocket to Come" is filled with uniquely crafted songs as pitch-perfect and wide-ranging as you're likely to find on any debut album this year.

Mraz turns simple-sounding stories about people he grew up with into meaningful glimpses into humanity's essence. In fact, Mraz appears to be obsessed with what makes a man a man. In his quest, he's unafraid to go where most people probably wouldn't feel comfortable going. He sings about exactly why he left certain girlfriends, and about both the ugly and beautiful things he's just discovered in the world.

Let's hope the 26-year-old maintains that youthful strength to be so honest and share his warts with his audience. Better catch him now before he grows up and becomes too self-conscious to say these things out loud (and plays at The Target Center).

Friday, May 14, 8 p.m. Historic Orpheum Theatre, 910 Hennepin Ave. S. $29.50-$34.50. 339-7007.

Holly Day can be reached at