At first, Stephen Lynch seems like yet another in the line of sensitive, white singer-songwriters: choirboy looks, high tenor voice, gentle acoustic guitar strumming. But somehow, we doubt crooners like Jeff Buckley or John Mayer would sing about a father who wishes SIDS upon his ugly child, a guy who wants his granddad to die so he'll get the inheritance, or a priest's love for his altar boy ("You will find the grace of God / Inside my rectory"). It's not surprising, then, that Lynch's notoriously un-PC humor has enraged conservative types. Still, folks memorize his twisted lyrics and sing along at his shows, where nothing is off limits. In a number he introduces as "For the Ladies," Lynch even suggests that his girlfriend get rid of a pregnancy with a coat-hanger abortion. His new DVD, Live at the El Rey, also pokes fun at pop culture ("Classic Rock Song," "D&D"), but it's the hard-core stuff that sets him apart. If you can't take a pinch of Lynch, you'll find solace in the less inflammatory material of his co-headliner, Comedy Central veteran Mitch Hedberg. His observational comedy focuses more on tamer things, like doughnut stores, fish sticks and cute little koalas. 7 p.m. Thursday, September 30. Verizon Theater, 520 Texas. For information, call 713-629-3700 or visit www.verizonwirelesstheater.com. $29.50. -- Rob Ruggiero
It's ladies' night at the Houston Women's Festival
Typically a showcase of substance over style, the Houston Women's Festival spotlights women's music that doesn't get Top 40 airplay or glitzy videos on MTV. This year's lineup has the usual blend of familiar indie names and newcomers, starting off with gospel-folkie homegirl-does-good Ruthie Foster, whose recent live CD release, Stages, showcases her goose-bump-inducing vocal range. Austin's somewhat overhyped Michelle Mayfield (a dead ringer for Sheryl Crow) is also on the bill, but we suggest you look a little deeper down the list of acts to Minneapolis singer Ellis, who has sold almost 15,000 CDs as an independent artist. Stick around for Ireland's Zrazy (Maria Walsh, Carole Nelson), who blend traditional Irish music, jazzy meandering and intimate, sensual, steamy lyrics. Noon on Saturday, October 2. Jones Plaza, 600 Louisiana. For information, call 713-861-3316 or visit www.hwfestival.org. $12 to $15. -- Greg Barr
Necking and Sucking
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Ever seen a sexy vampirette? How about a singing Dracula? Ah, it must be October, and it must be Mildred's Umbrella, because all things creepy, campy and crude are taking the stage. The theater company is presenting Mac Wellman's version of Dracula, which reimagines Bram Stoker's melodrama as a musical tale about the sexual liberation of Victorian women at the hands of, you guessed it, a dude with a thing for neck-biting. Leave the kids at home, but bring your inner freak at 8 p.m. Friday, October 1. Runs through October 30 with two "pay as you like" shows October 11 and 25. 1415 Bar and Grill, 1415 California. For reservations, call 832-418-0973. $10. -- Julie Ramey
We wouldn't blame you if you raised a suspicious eye at a show tagged as the "cutting edge of hip-hop and street dance" put on by the Society for the Performing Arts. Honestly, who expects to see funky-fresh street moves at Jones Hall? But you will, thanks to the crew from BREAK! The Urban Funk Spectacular, who've performed with P. Diddy, Luther Vandross and a pre-wardrobe-malfunction Janet Jackson. They kick it at 7 p.m. Friday, October 1. 615 Louisiana. For information, call 713-227-4SPA or visit www.spahouston.org. $12 to $38. -- Steven Devadanam