We have seen the evolution of Henry Rollins from angry, young, punk vocalist to angrier, not-so-young, punk poet and publisher. The evolution is perhaps not as remarkable as the fact that Hank's audience is completely happy to play along. What other person, living or dead, could fill the Warfield Theater with folks actually eager to hear spoken word? Still -- despite the evidence that Rollins' numerous books and spoken-word CDs are eagerly gobbled up by devout fans -- I have often wondered if the fawning crowds were not actually comprised of people wanting to catch one last glimpse of Hank's blue spandex shorts. I mean, after so many years of wear, it seems quite plausible that these elastic underpants have fused to his body, and are now hidden underneath an unremarkable assortment of black Levi's. At the last Rollins gathering, I marshaled the courage to ask this question of one clearly enamored fan. She laughed loudly and flicked her cigarette butt into the crowd. "No, I came to see if his neck could possibly get any bigger. Look at that vein! Isn't it cute?" Rollins will bulge Wednesday, Jan. 22, at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $15-17; call (510) 642-9988. ... Speaking of bulging, Kodo, Japan's demonic drum ensemble, is bringing its physically demanding "One Earth Tour" to the Bay Area. If you have never seen a taiko performance, this is the time to expand your horizons. Part musical performance, part ritual, taiko requires that its percussionists be world-class athletes, actors, and musicians all wrapped into one. The traditional instrumentation includes the shamisen, bamboo xylophone, gong, bamboo flute, and wooden clacker -- but the core is a large assortment of drums, some of them weighing over 900 pounds and reaching heights of 6 or 7 feet. While members of the troupe offer beautiful, precise examples of mime and dance tradition, scantily clad drummers take center stage, pounding away at drum skins until their sinewy muscles glisten under a slick of sweat. Whew! It goes without saying that this can be a primal, almost sexual experience. But even while your pulse races there is an undeniable childlike joy that comes with watching someone pound a drum with all of his or her might. The troupe's name beautifully captures both of these aspects with typical Japanese clarity: Kodo means "heartbeat" and "children of the drum." They perform Friday, Jan. 24, at 8 p.m. at the Marin Center, Avenue of the Flags, San Rafael. Tickets are $25-35; call 472-3500. Also Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 25 and 26 at 8 p.m. at Zellerbach Hall, Bancroft & Telegraph, UC Berkeley campus. Tickets are $20-36; call (510) 642-9988. ... Mission residents first became familiar with Rube Waddell during their semiregular street performances near and around 22nd and Mission streets. These were some of the best weekend gigs going and cheap at twice the price. (Free.) The trio transported their homemade instruments in shopping carts and possessed an unremitting love of baton twirling. These facts alone could have made the band a cult favorite among the Mission's self-proclaimed urban-cultural chic -- even if the music was crap. Strangely, this was not the case, and the musical vision of Rube was somewhat viable, so Vaccination Records decided to give 'em a shot. The new release, Hobo Train, captures all the grit and humor of Rube's degenerate Mission Street cabaret blues without the stench -- kind of a pungent cross between Doo Rag, Ween, Tom Waits, and Mojo Nixon on a shoestring budget. Celebrate their record release with Ebola Soup, Giant Ant Farm, and Hatcha & Datcha the Siamese Twins on Saturday, Jan. 25, at 9:30 p.m. at the Stork Club, 380 12th St., Oakland. Call (510) 444-6174 for the admission price. The neighborhood just isn't the same without them.
-- Silke Tudor