Upon a crowded plateau

Three local bands offer a night of varied sounds at the Fine Line

Claire Joseph

Spontaneity and simple lyrics are a recipe for rock’n’roll fun.

Local rockers Kubla Khan have that formula down pat. And in a cutthroat world of musicians striving to get signed by major labels, fun is sometimes worth more than money.

Kubla Khan and two other local bands, Nothing Static and Cathode Rae, will play Friday at the Fine Line Music Cafe.

Great live music – cheap or free – is a fairly common, but somewhat unappreciated, benefit of living in the Twin Cities.

“Our town, compared to other major markets, people don’t understand. It’s cheap, and we have, you have, 40, 50 venues. You can hear live music every night of the week. That is unbelievable,” Kubla Khan’s jMatt Keil said.

Kyle Hoff, of Cathode Rae, agreed.

“I guess Minneapolis is a lot like Austin, Texas: There’s a great music scene, there’s a lot of great art, but it’s not where the major record labels are,” Hoff said.

In other words, getting signed by a major label is not easy, if you’re based in Minneapolis. And, if you have a full-time job and a spouse in the Twin Cities, as do most of the members of these bands, leaving Minneapolis for cities such as Los Angeles or New York might not be in the cards.

“The Minneapolis scene is a very comfortable scene where the musicians like the area, they play music, they have day jobs. It’s easy to kind of get into that comfort zone and not really make the sacrifices that are needed to try to do this full time,” Hoff said.

The comfort level that makes local bands want to stay in town can be a good thing for listeners.

Without the controls mandated by major labels, local bands can revel in an unaffected sound, providing exciting live performances.

Kubla Khan exploits this advantage.

“The beauty of Kubla Khan is that no show is the same because of the way we interact with the crowd,” Keil said.

Musically, the band might be somewhere between Chicago and Ben Folds, given its horn-filled, lively performance style.

Hoff, Cathode Rae’s lead singer, said a couple of his musical inspirations are U2 and Stevie Wonder, while his bandmates find inspiration in Weezer and The Dismemberment Plan.

The members of Cathode Rae have said they have dabbled in different types of music, including funk and country, fueling the band’s various influences.

“We don’t have any metal guys in our band, though. I wish we did, I wish we had a metal head,” Hoff said.

Listen for the band’s song “Someday,” the catchiest of the tracks found on its album, “The House in Green.”

Nothing Static recently changed its name from Tried for Fine.

Its sound, especially in its song “Space,” can be compared to the female-vocalist-rock sound of Evanescence.

Considering the diverse sounds of these three bands and their mutual goal to excel live, expect Friday’s show to remind everyone the music scene in the Twin Cities is something to appreciate.