Thought long lost to the morass of gristle, excrement, and blood that is the hallowed reward of all death metal bands departed from this world, Pungent Stench suddenly returned in 2001 with Masters of Moral -- Servants of Sin. Known for explicit graphics, lyrics, and stage presentations that might challenge even the indelicate sensibilities of death metal fans, the Austrian trio did not disappoint. Thick and jagged but brutally precise, the group's playing is technically better than it was 10 years ago, and the hellish growls of Martin Schirenc still offer corruption and horror aplenty. For Servants of Sin, the threesome takes on the villainous trappings of clergy (complete with a suggestive photo layout of tow-headed children), and the "prayers" leave little to the imagination as to what gets swallowed in the rectory. Expect a fairly disturbing communion when Pungent Stench performs on Friday, Feb. 7 at "Lucifer's Hammer" at Curve Bar with Phobia, Benumb, and Fall of the Bastard opening at 9 p.m. Ticket price is $10; call 896-2286.
Helobung means "never-ending joy" in T'boli, the language of the indigenous people of the Southern Philippines, and it's a suitable phrase to link with the customs preserved by the 85 artisans comprising the Helobung Cultural Troupe. Well versed in traditional weaving, beadwork, dance, healing practices, and the music of its ancestors, this troupe hopes to preserve its people's autonomy through the preservation of the culture. To that end, the members are bringing their unique arts to the attention of U.S. audiences for the first time. While here, HCT will teach master classes in all the above-mentioned forms as well as exhibit T'boli artifacts at a crafts market. During performances, HCT offer ancient rituals through epic chants, courtship dances, and warrior displays, accompanied by blowlon gongs, sloli flutes, and the kumbing mouthharp. Helobung Cultural Troupe performs on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 7-8 at 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 9 at 3 p.m. at Brava Theater Center. Ticket price is $12-18; call 647-2822 for class schedules and market days.
I cannot stomach the state of the union, much less the State of the Union address. Even twice-buffered by the satiric wit of Jon Stewart, GWB's yammerings are toxic bilge; sepsis is inevitable, and purging is vital. Thankfully, the medical professionals at "First Frickin' Fridays" think they can help (your psyche, at least). Desperate times, they say, demand desperate measures. To that end, friends and family are invited to gather for the "First Presidential Intervention and Weenie Roast." Join those well trained in the art of disinformation and rhetoric by the Church of SubGenius and the First Church of the Last Laugh in haranguing, cajoling, poking, prodding, and pleading with our president (or a near facsimile), who will be bound and gagged until sanity is restored (or the keg runs dry). Intercession is imperative. "First Presidential Intervention and Weenie Roast" takes place on Friday, Feb. 7 at 21 Grand at 8 p.m. Ticket price is $5-10; call (510) 444-7263.