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In the clubs and under the radar

Kung fu. The term refers to a form of Chinese martial arts that forsakes the use of weaponry. But in the more broad sense, the Chinese translation of the term references any form of enlightened study that requires patience, discipline and a smart and judicious deployment of energy over time. So it’s more a way of living than a simple mode of self-defense.

The first time I heard Tri-State Area funk-prog-dance collective Kung Fu perform, I thought the band had chosen the wrong name. It seemed too jokey, a little goofy, and not at all indicative of the high level of virtuosic interaction taking place during the group’s live performances. But then I thought about the broader meaning of kung fu, and realized that, yes, this was indeed music that required patience and discipline to perform, and demanded attentive, interactive listening from its audience. “Enlightened study?” Clearly, the guys in Kung Fu – Tim Palmieri (guitar), Robert Somerville (tenor sax), Todd Stoops (keyboards), Chris DeAngelis (bass guitar) and Adrian Tramontano (drums/percussion) – were engaged in as much.

Yet, Kung Fu, though its music certainly engages the mind, is hardly forsaking the body. This isn’t just cerebral stuff, musicians playing for other musicians’ enjoyment, or purely technical navel-gazing. Kung Fu plays funk, even if that funk often comes with complex harmonic constructions and face-melting improvisation attached. You can dance to the band’s music, as fans who have packed the group’s area appearances at the likes of Nietzsche’s and the Town Ballroom have proven.

Kung Fu comes back to town for a 10 p.m. show Friday in Nietzsche’s (248 Allen St.). Logo City and Subsoil will open. Bring an open mind, your dancing shoes and $13. Or better yet, get advance tickets through – last time Kung Fu came to town, the show sold out.

Jammed up

A big week for the Western New York jam-tronica fan, as the Town Ballroom (681 Main St.), brings two of the most vital and virtuosic of the form’s proponents to our area on consecutive evenings.

Things kick off at 8 p.m. Tuesday, with a performance from STS9 (Sound Tribe Sector Nine, if you must) for two sets of music. Tickets are $24 in advance. At 8 p.m. Wednesday, electronic/jam pioneers Conspirator returns with guests Break Science. Tickets for this one are going for $20 advance, $24 day of show. Tickets for Town Ballroom shows are available at the box office or through

Gig picks

Space Junk and Whiskey Reverb share a bill at 9 tonight in the Tudor Lounge (335 Franklin St.).

Randle and the Late Night Scandals have been building a substantial buzz over the past year, based on the gritty, eminently funky blend of blues and jam-friendly rock offered by the ensemble, and the soulful, sensual presence of singer Amanda Markovich-rabb. The band recently completed tracking for its debut disc, and will support Toronto’s the Ruby Spirit at the Hard Rock Cafe (333 Prospect St., Niagara Falls) at 8 tonight. Admission for the all-ages show is free. Find the band on Facebook to sample some sounds from the forthcoming disc.

Mindless Self Indulgence, with guests Death Spells, perform at 8 p.m. Saturday in the Town Ballroom. Tickets are $23 advance, $26 day of show.