Brass Rail returns

It took nine months, but a much improved Brass Rail reopened last Friday. The bar -- a gay institution on Hennepin Avenue -- closed in January. At the time, owner Peter Hafiz promised to remodel the shabby old place and open again by Pride weekend. After missing that deadline, some wondered if the Brass Rail would ever reopen, or if it would even be gay again. Hafiz also owns Sneaky Pete's, Deja Vu and the Gay 90s. The good news: The place looks great. The first thing you'll notice is the granite: It's on the bar, on the stage and along the walls. There's also a new tin ceiling, plush leather seating, and the storefront opens up so you can walk right out onto the sidewalk patio. Also: It's definitely still gay. The drag queens were out in full force last weekend.

422 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls.

An artistic protest

In the summer of 2006, a Minneapolis police officer shot and killed 19-year-old Fong Lee. Earlier this year, a federal jury said the officer acted within the law when he shot Lee eight times during a foot chase. The shooting and its aftermath generated outrage from segments of the community. On Saturday, a large group of artists and activists will present a show called "Up in Arms: A Night of Hip-Hop and Spoken Word to Honor Fong Lee and End Police Brutality." Performers include: Magnetic North (from New York City), former Minneapolis rapper Nomi of Power Struggle, Michelle Myers of Yellow Rage (from Philadelphia), Maria Isa, e.g. bailey, Tou Saiko Lee, Sha Cage, Tish Jones, Bobby Wilson and more. The show will be held at Macalester College in the Kagin Commons. All proceeds will go to Lee's family.

7:30 p.m. Sat. 1600 Grand Av., St. Paul.

Suggested donation: $5-$10. More info, e-mail

Comedy according to Cross

Nowadays, comedian David Cross is many things to many people. "Mr. Show" creator. Video game voice talent ("Halo 2," "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas"). Nemesis of Larry the Cable Guy. Crane in "Kung Fu Panda." But most of all, he's a stand-up god. On Monday, he'll bring his acerbic wit to the State Theatre. Oh, he's also an author. He recently published his first book of insanely funny prose called "I Drink for a Reason." The quotes on the book jacket are the best. Says Paul Rudd: "One of the funniest books I've ever skimmed!"

7:30 p.m. Mon. 805 Hennepin Av. S., Mpls. $37.50.


Trance master

Few names get trance music fans excited like Armin van Buuren. The Dutch superstar brings his show to Epic this Thursday. Van Buuren's popularity hasn't waned. He's been voted the top DJ on the planet two years running in DJ Mag, millions of listeners still tune into his weekly "A State of Trance" radio show and he just released "Universal Religion Chapter 4."

10 p.m. Thu. 110 N. 5th St., Mpls. $20.