Kronos Quartet The daring new-music ensemble -- violinists David Harrington and John Sherba, cellist Joan Jeanrenaud and violist Hank Dutt -- returns to perform a program that includes "Tragedy at the Opera" from Vietnamese composer P.Q. Phan's Memoirs of a Lost Soul, John Cage's "Totem Ancestor," Schnittke's "Collected Songs Where Every Verse Is Filled with Grief," Arvo Pärt's "Psalom," Terry Riley's "G Song" and Bartók's Quartet no. 3. 8 p.m. The Cullen Theater at Wortham Center, 500 Texas, 237-1439. Tix (limited availability): Houston Ticket Center (227-ARTS); Ticketmaster (629-3700).
"The History of Underclothes" Don't expect a dry dissertation about the bloomers and bustles of yore; the only (under)thing this multimedia event has to do with the title subject is that its performers, presumably, wear them. Here's the plan: Dance troupes Fly and Mudslide present respective programs, followed by a performance piece about "stage fright, life, death and other consequential matters" by Laura Hope Steckler. Fly's segment features the pieces "Cookin'" (set to music by Claude Bolling) and "Cool Pop" (billed, rather ambitiously, as a "history of pop music and pop icons"). Mudslide hoofs the tango in choreographer Jennifer Wood's "A Toiling Tortoise's Attempt at Exodus" and performs to live accompaniment by the Georgian Rustavi Choir in Wood's "With: Rivets." Salon-style discussions follow each presentation. 8 tonight and Saturday; more shows are scheduled March 5 through 7. The Duplex, 1924 Brun, 521-4560. $8-$10.
Houston Symphony Gala: "A Date with the Devil" Darkly diabolical beau ideal Samuel Ramey, a basso profundo with a knack for landing opera's juiciest Mephistophelian roles, joins conductor Christoph Eschenbach and the orchestra for this musical dance with the devil. The program includes selections from Gounod's Faust, Berlioz's The Damnation of Faust and Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann. 7 p.m. Jones Hall, 615 Louisiana, 227-3974. $20-$76 (Houston Ticket Center: 227-ARTS).
Save Ferris and Goldfinger On the heels of No Doubt's big bust-out, here comes Save Ferris, another rising nonpunk outfit from Punk Ground Zero (Orange County, California) that sports a ska-tinged sound and a strong female presence at center mike: operatically trained Monique Powell. Its big bust-out was that irrepressible slice of pop nirvana called "The World Is New" -- the "Walking on Sunshine" of ska/pop. Goldfinger's been roundly panned by purists, and not without cause, but for nonpurists who like their ska-informed punk raw, rude and catchy, it's hard to top John Feldman's 'finger. The bands open for Sugar Ray (see Critic's Choice on page 72). 7 p.m. (doors). Aerial Theater at Bayou Place, 520 Texas, 230-1600. $17.50 (Ticketmaster: 629-3700).
Kelly Willis How is it that this Oklahoma-born, Austin-based singer/songwriter, with her honeydew melon of a voice and the freckled face of an angel, has managed to sidestep superstardom all these years? Blame it on the same part of her maverick personality that allows her to trumpet the incomparable Wanda Jackson as a prime influence, to cover commercially unlikely tracks such as Joe Ely's "Settle for Love" and the Kendalls' cornpone-pop confection "Heaven's Just a Sin Away" and to sever her relationship with A&M Records over the firing of her A&R rep. Who, besides her agent and accountant, cares if Willis lacks a mind for business? To use the parlance of her home state and her chosen field of endeavor -- progressive country -- this girl can sang. 8 and 10 p.m. (the early show is nonsmoking). McGonigel's Mucky Duck, 2425 Norfolk, 528-5999. $15.
Everclear See the story on page 70. Jimmie's Chicken Shack and Feeder open. 8 p.m. (doors). The Abyss, 5913 Washington Avenue, 863-7173. $15 (Ticketmaster: 629-3700).
"Years Ending in Nine" Held in conjunction with FotoFest 98, this exhibit is, literally, a collection of photographs taken in years ending in nine, from 1899 to 1989. Drawn from the Museum of Fine Arts' permanent collection, the 140-plus images in the show include pieces by some of the greatest lens artists of the last century, including Walker Evans, Margaret Bourke-White, Irving Penn, Andre Kertesz, Carrie Mae Weems, Paul Strand, Ansel Adams, Dorothea Lange, Diane Arbus, Eliot Porter and Arkady Shishkin, plus potential hall-of-famers like Michiko Kon, Lee Friedlander, Jerry N. Uelsmann and the late Tseng Kwong Chi. Anne Wilkes Tucker curated. The exhibit opens today -- viewing hours are 12:15 to 6 p.m. -- and continues through April 26 (see Thrills for more info). The MFA, 1001 Bissonnet, 639-7300. $3; $1.50 for students, seniors and children ages six to 18; free for kids five and under.
Yevgeny Yevtushenko, Sergei Leiferkus and Shostakovich Dmitri Shostakovich, the recalcitrant Russian composer, based his Symphony no. 13, op. 113 ("Babi Yar") and "The Execution of Stepan Razin," op. 119, on works by his similarly outspoken countryman Yevtushenko. The poet returns the artistic homage with a reading of the original texts, and the Shostakovich pieces are performed by Russian baritone Leiferkus, the Moores School Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Franz Anton Krager) and a 200-voice chorus; the event's a fundraiser for the Moores School. 7:30 p.m. Moores Opera House, University of Houston entrance 16 (off Cullen Boulevard). Info: 743-3313. $15-$25 (general admission; limited availability).
"Kai-Olaf Hesse: AfterImages of America" Like many Americans -- especially Gen Xers -- this promising German visualist displays a torrid passion for our popular culture. Hesse gives us a "subjective and personal" outsider's view of our own "visual landscapes of politics, industry and movies" in this exhibit, presented in conjunction with FotoFest 98 and co-sponsored by the Houston Center for Photography. It opens with a reception at 7 tonight and continues through April 3. Goethe Institut Houston, 3120 Southwest Freeway, Suite 100, 528-2787.