Marine Research At Black Cat

Marine Research's Amelia Fletcher has "a million reasons for wanting to carry on living," she sang Wednesday at the Black Cat. The line was striking not merely because it comes in "Hopefulness to Hopelessness," the catchiest song on the English quintet's upcoming album, "Sounds From the Gulf Stream." It was also a poignant reminder that the singer-songwriter's new band is basically a continuation of Heavenly, a pop-punk group that ended when its drummer--Fletcher's brother Matthew--committed suicide.

Fletcher and her cohorts, all veterans of Heavenly save for drummer DJ Downfall, made no direct references to that tragedy during their show, which was as brisk and amiable as any local performance by their previous band. The revamped group has redefined itself principally by boosting the lounge and trip-hop elements of its sound, finding new and more prominent roles for Cathy Rogers's keyboards and Rob Pursey's bass. Still, Marine Research was most appealing at its most Heavenly, notably when Fletcher and Rogers harmonized on the exuberantly melodic refrains of such songs as "Parallel Horizontal."

Marine Research was preceded by the Saturday People, a new local band whose spry pop-rock was entirely compatible with the headliner's.

--Mark Jenkins

Insane Clown Posse At 9:30 Club

If you think "South Park" is a bit too sophisticated and professional wrestling is too much about sports, your musical ship may have come in.

At a thoroughly moist 9:30 club Wednesday night, the Insane Clown Posse played what it deemed a "warm-up" gig for its Amazing Jeckel Brothers Tour to a sweaty horde of "juggalos" (fans), many sporting clown makeup to match the group's black-and-white greasepaint. Despite virtually zero radio and critical support, the band has launched itself into countless suburban homes via the white teenage male.

The Detroit duo treated (mostly) that demographic to an evening of rap, ritual and merchandising (including the official "Hockey Jersey," for an astonishing $150--"Uh, this is my mom's card").

Appearing among props conjuring a subterranean netherworld around which sundry costumed ogres and boogeymen pranced, Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J rapped and worked the ICP ritual: pouring and spraying hundreds (really) of two-liter bottles of Faygo soda over the crowd and themselves. The delighted faithful responded by shouting each line in hearty unison. The group's lyrical slant is a variation on the timeless theme "#!*& the world!" Musically, the Clown Posse works a variation, well, forget the variation, it's basically one thudding hip-hop groove with occasional crunching guitar. Aside from a steady stream of expletives and a mosh pit, this seemed no more menacing than, say, Kiss. Ultimately, if they don't exert that group's staying power, these guys could easily land jobs as soda distributors.

--Patrick Foster