Epic's new foundation

Epic, the club that took over and rebuilt the Quest's former home, has finally started rocking as a live music venue. Grandmaster Flash and Rick Ross -- a giant of old-school hip-hop and the current kingpin of gangsta rap -- each have Epic gigs this weekend. Dutch trance DJ Tiesto and soul starlet Angie Stone will be there next week. Other confirmed players for the summer range from the god-awful but awfully popular pop-rocker Gavin DeGraw to thrash pioneers Testament to R&B vet Chaka Khan.

Part of the credit for Epic's new gigs belongs to its new in-house booker, Beecher Vaillancourt, former co-owner of Foundation nightclub. Under Vaillancourt's direction, Foundation brought some excellent DJs and lots of old-school and backpack-rap acts to downtown Minneapolis. "I think we accomplished a lot in a year and a half," Vaillaincourt said, blaming the closure on a co-owner who didn't see eye to eye and, of course, on the downturning economy.

At Epic, Vaillaincourt said, he has more latitude (read: money) to book and promote shows. The club relies heavily on private events for steady income, so its music bookings aren't do or die. Outside promoters such as Live Nation, Mr. Chan Presents and the company behind Sunday's Ross gig, Glamorous Life, will also be working there.

"We hope to get a lot of the shows that used to be the Quest's trademark and bring them back into the city," he said, a reference to Myth in suburban Maplewood.

The Rick Ross show is exactly that kind of show. Hardcore rap concerts have been a mainstay at Myth lately but caused a lot of problems when the Quest hosted them downtown. Vaillancourt said security will be beefed up Sunday. He also claimed to have turned down Young Jeezy and Lil' Wayne gigs to avoid any trouble, including being typecast.

"A big part of Epic's business is private and corporate events, so we'll be very careful to keep a safe and diverse image," Vaillancourt said.

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Bikes, bags and a benefit

Messenger bag fans need to check out a cool event called "Imaginary Bags." One on One Bicycle Studio and Crumpler bags have teamed up to create a limited series of bike bags designed by local and national artists. The bike/coffee shop will close out its weeklong display of the bags with a party Saturday, which will include a fashion show featuring the bags and music by DJ Millions Billions and the Haves Have It. The bags are being auctioned off with proceeds going to a memorial fund for Mark Loesch, a Minneapolis resident who was killed last year while out on a bike ride near his home.

More info: www.imaginarybags.com. (7 p.m. Saturday 06/07, One on One Bicycle Studio.)

  • Tom Horgen

Rivers runs through Tay

Tay Zonday continues to hit the reset button on his 15 minutes. The Minneapolis-based YouTube super-duper star, whose "Chocolate Rain" clip is up to 23 million views (!), appears in the hilarious new video for Weezer's comeback single, "Pork and Beans," a tribute to self-made Internet stars/goofs. In it, we see Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo standing at the mike opposite Zonday in what looks like the original "Chocolate" video shoot. Even funnier, Kevin Federline appears as the guy manning the recording booth for them. Reached by e-mail, Zonday says he and Rivers shot the scene together (it looks edited together), and he considered it an "opportunity to meet tremendous talents" (not sure if he meant K-Fed). He doesn't believe the video is making fun of webcam stars like himself. Rather, he said, it's "a great work of cinema that bridges the gap between 20th- and 21st-century success."

  • Chris Riemenschneider

Pharrell and N.E.R.D. gain Status

Hip-hop fans have a lot to celebrate with the Wednesday grand opening of hip-hop apparel store Status' new Uptown location. Not only will the larger space offer a new VIP section (think MTV's "Cribs"), but Pharrell Williams will be on hand from 2 to 4 p.m., and it's hoped that his band N.E.R.D. also will perform. How did Status owner Sly Peoples secure such high-profile guests? Status is one of the few stores to carry Pharrell's clothing line, Billionaire Boys Club/Ice Cream, and N.E.R.D. will be in town to open for Kanye West's Target Center show later that day. There will be soul food and seafood from the Alaskan Eatery, Minnesota Lynx player appearances, gift bags and 10 to 15 percent off sneakers and apparel. You could also win the chance to get some face time with Pharrell in Status' VIP section. (10 a.m.-6 p.m. Wednesday 06/11, 1205 Lagoon Av., 612-824-3100.)

  • Jahna Peloquin