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We know you’ve missed them. Those who caught any of this multiracial metalcore quintet’s live shows at the dearly departed QE2 back in the ’90s still rate those performances as the stuff of legend. Karen Crisis has one of the most unique voices in music, pulling off both an angelic whisper and the roughest, gruffest growl that would put her male counterparts to shame (take that, Amy Lee), and she’s pretty badass on stage, too—like a tightly wound ball of energy that’s just waiting to explode.

The wait is over. After a lengthy hiatus, during which Karen Crisis followed her artistic muse, establishing a nearly-full-time side business as a leathercrafter along the way, Crisis—the band, that is—have resurfaced, much to the delight of longtime fans, and to the intrigue of newcomers. They’ve just completed a brand new album, Like Sheep Led to Slaughter, and they have set out on a brief tour to let their fans know they’re back. Slaughter’s lead single, “Nomad,” is a punishing dose of what makes Crisis so revered in the heavy music world. Elements of hardcore, thrash and straightforward metal set the stage, with smatterings of world music strewn about for flavor, and Karen’s one-of-a-kind lead vocals alternately inviting and slicing-and-dicing. Like Sheep Led to Slaughter is scheduled for release May 25 on The End Records.

Crisis will lay the smack down at Valentine’s Music Hall this Saturday (April 3). All Out War, Misery Index, Held Under, and Save Yourself will open the 8 PM show. Tickets are $12. For more information, call the club at 432-6572.

Capitol Steps

They say they’re the only group in America who try to be funnier than Congress—which is not to say they’re striving to be as funny as, say, bubblegum on your shoe. These are current and former Congressional staffers who poke incessant fun at the government they know so well, and who use song and political satire to bring down the House . . . and the Senate. But in all seriousness, they really do sing songs about Dubya being smart, odes to SUVs, and one number called “Puttin on the Blix”—as in Hans. They even have a new record (their 23rd release) called Between Iraq and a Hard Place, so you can take the fun back home with you. They’re relentless in poking fun at the often irrational and inexplicable side of political life, which might otherwise remain humorless.

The Capitol Steps will swing through Proctor’s (432 State St., Schenectady) for all of you political junkies on Saturday (April 3) at 8 PM. Tickets are $19.50-$25.50. For more information, call 346-6204.

Between the Lions: The Mane Event

In the PBS kids’ programming lineup, the live-action Between the Lions stands out. Yes, the lions—Theo, Leona, Lionel and pals—are cute, but not sickly-cute like Barney or trippy-cute like the Teletubbies. These (puppet) lions live in a library, and the show, while never fudging the entertainment values, is about reading. The show is aimed precisely at kids on the cusp of literacy: As one of the TV show’s producers, Judith Stoia, told NPR, “[There’s] a very narrow window for kids to become proficient at reading. . . . If a child doesn’t crack the code by third grade, it’s very unlikely that they will become proficient readers.”

The Mane Event, coming to the Egg this Sunday afternoon, promises to take the audience on “a journey of fun and interactive songs and storybook reading—all designed to foster literary skills and make everyone a successful reader.” And, if that’s not enough, Gordon from Sesame Street will be on hand as master of ceremonies.

The Mane Event will be presented on Sunday (April 4) at 1 PM at the Egg (Empire State Plaza, Albany). Tickets are $12 for adults, $10 for kids. For reservations and information, call 473-1845.

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