If you didn't get enough white-trash hijinks at the Trailer Trash Party held in Annie's Cocktail Lounge last week, try a quiet evening with Gummo, a sweet little film directed by the screenwriter of Kids. While remorse and consequence played a role, albeit a tiny one, in the downtown Manhattan of Kids, there are no such moral distractions in Xenia, Ohio. Solomon and Tummler are just two ugly youths who spend their summer days arm wrestling their drunken fathers, shooting cats, and losing their virginity to the local blind whore. Unapologetic and casually brutal, Gummo is masterfully balanced by flawless casting and lyrical cinematography. You'll be able to taste the bugs smashed in the screen door at the Red Vic from Thursday, May 21, through Wednesday, May 27. Tickets are $6; call 668-3994 for show times.
When Red Red Meat released There's a Star Above the Manger Tonight last year, more than a few stalwart fans began to turn a little brittle. For those attached to Red Red Meat's simpler blues and roots deconstructions, the clanking chains and mechanical hisses splattered across There's a Star seemed better suited to another side project like the discordant country Red Red Meat-Rex collaboration Loftus. But for those of a more adventurous nature, this was a portent of marvelous sounds to come. Califone, the most interesting group put together by RRM frontman Tim Rutili, plunges fellow Loftus and Meat men Tim Hurley and Ben Massarella into newfangled psychedelic territory with a slight country feel and a decidedly Beckian allure: Califone's buckets, chains, and sheet metal noises evoke oil rigs moored in kaleidoscopic depths; the audible pieces of Rutili's muffled poetry sound opiate-inspired rather than moonshine-born. Live, Califone are joined by Loftus' Phil Spirito on bass and Danni Iosello on drums. Rutili slinks behind his piano, Massarella gives baking sheets reverb, and Hurley hides behind a big box that houses homemade keyboards and a harmonium tricked out with delay pedals. You may not see where the music is coming from, but you're bound to revel in it at the Great American Music Hall on Friday and Saturday, May 22 and 23, with Modest Mouse headlining, Seam playing third, and Strictly Ballroom opening at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10; call 885-0750.
To celebrate the release of Rice and Beans: Puro Eskanola Vol. II, Aztlan Records presents a rollicking night of Latin-flavored ska with the skafrocubanjazz sounds of Yeska, the Bay Area skank of Monkey, and the 2-tone punk of Cara Dura. While not all of the bands on this must-have compilation originate south of the border, all of them have been overcome with the spirit more than once in their lives. At this show, East L.A.'s favorite eight-piece instrumental conglomeration, Yeska, simultaneously celebrate their Aztlan debut aptly named SKAFROCUBANJAZZ. Check them out at Slim's on Saturday, May 23, at 9 p.m. Tickets are $7-8; call 522-0333.
Even if it pisses rain, you must fight for your right to barbecue on Memorial Day weekend. You owe it to yourself and you owe it to all of your fellow spudboys. Speaking of spudboys, "New Wave City" presents Mongoloid, a true-to-life Devo cover band, as part of its "Devolved Summer Kick-Off Party." By following Devo's self-invented musical philosophy of De-Evolution ("the sound of things falling apart"), Mongoloid have discovered the wonderful versatility of yellow meltdown suits, kneepads, bicycle helmets, adult diapers, and energy domes -- and they're not afraid to use them. Mongoloid perform at the Covered Wagon on Sunday, May 24, at 8 p.m. with new wave karaoke and DJ dancing until 2 a.m. The barbecue starts at 5 p.m. Admission is free until 8 p.m. when it becomes $6; call 675-5683.
-- Silke Tudor