There's always that guy in every high school who takes theater and band and plays every instrument. He listens to Zappa, Devo and Kraftwerk and can be found blowing into empty milk containers in the cafeteria, intent on manipulating the tonal quality, and he becomes irate when you refuse to recognize this as music. Well, when he grows up, he'll be much cooler than you. If he becomes a member of Zeitgeist, he'll be much, much cooler than you. Since their group's formation in 1977, the members of Zeitgeist have exercised their unique hybrid of music/dance/ theater in challenging and exciting performances. In 1995 the group approached musical visionary and instrumental innovator Paul Dresher with the challenge of creating and composing a theatrical, evening-long chamber piece. Dresher reached into his background of acoustic-instrument invention and produced Sound Stage. The centerpiece of the show is a seventeen-by-fourteen-foot, rolling metronome that will be climbed, like a jungle gym, for 80 minutes by the Zeitgeist ensemble. Every surface of the giant pendulum produces its own sound and is played simultaneously from without, within, above and beneath.
The music cannot be separated from the movement in this performance, which promises the emotional scope and dynamics of any great symphony, along with a complementary visual grace. Are you jaded? Are you no longer moved by artistic vision and ambition? Does the phrase "performance art" conjure images of David Cross squatting over a flag, trying like hell to move his reluctant bowels? Recover your innocence. Carpe noctem! Sound Stage is performed at 8 p.m. at Washington University's Edison Theatre (6445 Forsyth Boulevard, $14 to $28, 314-534-1111). -- Jedidiah Ayers
Christian vs. Roboto
The Night is DeYoung
Now that Dick Gephardt is gone for good, St. Louisans must not lose sight of the Gepper's primary target for pandering: the working stiff. Thankfully, erstwhile Styx lead vocalist Dennis DeYoung is still on the campaign trail. As Syracuse University freshman T.J. Myers noted in his www.styxnet.com dissection of the DeYoung-penned "Mr. Roboto": "There is no way for these workers to escape their jobs, except through the use of robotos to take their place." Myers continues his analysis of the 1983 rock-opera centerpiece: "'Mr. Roboto' explains what it feels like to lose your job to a machine."
DeYoung can relate. His replacement in the current Styx lineup might as well be a karaoke machine, and yet DeYoung soldiers on, performing with a symphony orchestra at the Fox Theatre (527 North Grand Boulevard, 314-534-1111, $45-$55, 7:30 p.m.). However, if you'd rather get blackout drunk, go see Night Ranger at the Bottleneck Blues Bar (St. Charles Landing, 636-940-4300, $25 to $35, 7 and 9 p.m.) that very same night. -- Mike Seely
Screw Ryan Adams
Wormwood Scrubs is for lovers
St. Louis is a city of ever-expanding wonders. On familiar streets, you sometimes find something that's been lost for so long it becomes new again, something that makes you reassess this town and what it has to offer. Last of the Summer Wine, the first EP from Wormwood Scrubs, is one of those mysterious treasures. A fistful of ramshackle English blues and busted-gut roots rock, Summer Wine swaggers along with the sorry drive of a habitual also-ran. Still, the desperate beauty in Jason Rook's voice as it slips away from Larissa Dalle's when they both decide "You're just a mistake I made" is found only in the most persistent of romantics; nobody who loves that hard can keep coming up short forever. Surely the Wormwood Scrubs are the harbingers of a new beginning, or at least a better finish. Start over at 9:30 p.m. at Off Broadway (3509 Broadway, 314-773-3363). Tickets are $6. -- Paul Friswold
Even before there were guitars, there were guitar heroes; they didn't actually play guitars, though. These early axe-slingers rocked the lute, a sixteen-string antecedent of today's guitar. That's ten extra strings on which to sting, and you can bet the lutist wore his singlet extra tight and attracted many a comely maiden with his ripping fretboard style. Thanks to these pioneers, the lute became synonymous with loving, and it still carries that reputation today. With that in mind, the St. Louis Classical Guitar Society presents Paul O'Dette, modern lutist, with soprano Ellen Hargis in a performance of sixteenth-century slow jams entitled The Power of Love. Get your swerve on at 8 p.m. at the Ethical Society (9001 Clayton Road, 314-567-5566, $18 to $22). Grrrrr -- yeah! -- Paul Friswold
The Con Is On
Break the law. Break the law so well that you make fools out of the authorities for half a decade. Then get caught, come clean, and get paid serious loot by said authorities for showing them how you did it. Oh, and it wouldn't hurt if you did it so well that Steven Spielberg decided to make a movie about you. That's what Frank Abagnale did, and that's the American way. The movie is called Catch Me If You Can, but you can hear America's best confidence man tell his story as part of the Maryville University Speakers series at 8 p.m. at Powell Symphony Hall (718 North Grand Boulevard). For price and ticket information, check www.speakerseries.com or call 314-533-7888. -- Guy Gray