In big whats
Critics are quick enough to point out the chaos theory at work in Excepter, the Brooklyn four-piece given to extemporaneous electro-jamming gone so wrong it almost always goes right. True, there's chaos and its defining order in disorder, melodic patterns and rhythmic directions plunking out with each ghastly, subvert(ed/ing) howl from former No Neck Blues Band member John Fell Ryan or tape gnash from effects-man Dan Hougland. But there's another hard-c at work here, too, and it's almost universally omitted in describing Excepter: crunk. On its recent Sunbomber EP, Excepter employs nearly every tool in the crunk cabinet--frame-rattling, regular bass throbs, piercing high-end synthesizer melodies, hyperbolic vocals--to make engrossing, intoxicating, disorienting music. Yeah. What? Don't miss this show. Esperanto Bat and DJ Admit It roll the joint at 9 p.m. at Nightlight in Chapel Hill on Sunday, May 28. Bring $7. --Grayson Currin
In road shows
For the best in regional theater this week, you might just have to hit the road. Asheville's second annual Stoneleaf Festival features works by a half-dozen of the region's strongest theater companies, including PlayMakers Rep, Burning Coal, Raleigh Ensemble Players and Temple Theatre; see www.stoneleaftheatrefestival.com for the intriguing details.
Meanwhile, another new festival, Theater of the American South, is already underway in Wilson. But is it worth the trip? Before pulling out that road map, consult our in-depth review here, and check out www.theateroftheamericansouth.org for the schedule. --Byron Woods
In really hot summer nights
Only brave or thrill-seeking musicians would start an artist-in-residency on a Sunday. That's just what the Neu Romance folks did, running consecutive weeks through June 25 with Rafiq Bhatia and His Trio, starting this weekend at Kings. Neu Romance typically groups DJs and end-of-weekend grooves, but with Raleigh native Bhatia on sojourn from the Jazz and Contemporary Music program at New York University, the kettle needed stirring. Bhatia will be working with Matt Douglas on saxophone, Chris Pattishall on keyboard and synthesizer, and Steve Coffman on drums, with a generous mix of other talents throughout the summer. Their fusion takes Bhatia's guitar and reworks from a few angles: jazz, experimental, hip-hop and contemporary Indian music. The jam starts at 8 p.m. this Sunday, May 28, and is free. --Chris Toenes
In skills not measured by standardized tests
If North Carolina students had to demonstrate stilt walking, aerial dancing, fire manipulation, poi dancing, martial arts and hip-hop skillz in order to graduate, 35 Emerson Waldorf High School students would be waaay ahead of the curve. Although the Circus of Sorts performance troupe dangles by their toes 15 feet in the air and balances on 4-foot wooden legs, suggesting Cirque du Soleil, the price tag doesn't start in the same rarified range. With a suggested donation of $4-8 (kids under 10 are admitted free), you can bring the whole gang and feel good knowing that 60 percent of the proceeds will be donated to the Common Ground Collective for rebuilding efforts for Katrina survivors. Shows happen at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 26 and Saturday, May 27 at Forest Theatre in Chapel Hill, and at 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 28 at the Durham School of the Arts. Call 932-1195 for more information.