Chiba Pets

SAT 10/23

There's just something about young Japanese musicians playing Western-derived rock music. Whether it's the transcendental freak-core of the Boredoms, the garage mania of Guitar Wolf, or the twee pop-punk of Shonen Knife, something comes through in the "Japanese" version that's consistently absent from British and American rockers. Call it innocence, energy or just sheer novelty, but almost every Japanese band out there has it in spades. The latest strain of this infectious phenomenon hits Walter's this week in the form of Change Up, a hugely popular ska-punk band from Chiba (near Tokyo) that's opened Japanese dates for the likes of the Offspring, Sum 41 and No Doubt. Consider the international appeal of ska: It started as an early-'60s Jamaican hybrid derived from U.S. R&B and was revived in the late '70s by British post-punk groups like the Specials and Madness. It was carbon-copied yet again in the '90s as a predominantly American phenomenon, exemplified by the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and their hordes of methed-up brethren. And recently, it's even been glammed up and chart-certified by cover girl Gwen Stefani. After so many permutations, it's definitely time for the Japanese to have a go. 11 p.m. Saturday, October 23. Walter's on Washington, 4215 Washington Avenue. For information, call 713-864-2727 or visit $10. -- Scott Faingold

The Good the fat and the Ugly
A local dance troupe points out all your shortcomings

In case you haven't heard, we're fat. We're also wasteful and stupid. You've heard it on the news, you've heard it from your mom, and now you're going to hear it from ballet dancers. E-Z Fix: The Ugly American casts a critical eye at America's quick-fix culture in the context of the violence and turmoil across the world. Creator and star Richard Hubscher, formerly a soloist with Houston Ballet, calls it a "political piece without pointing fingers." Expect dancers in tacky working clothes -- "like Enron rejects," says Hubscher -- graffiti and paint splashing. Watching the show should be far more entertaining than hearing about our shortcomings on the news. Acknowledge your own ugliness, then go have a drink and feel better at 8 p.m. Thursday, October 21. The show runs through Saturday, October 23. Helios, 411 Westheimer. For information, call 713-410-9848. $7. -- Julia Ramey

Geishas Gone Wild

FRI 10/22

It's an all-too-familiar story. Teenage girl falls for older, powerful man. Older man makes promises in the dark he won't keep. Girl is jealous of man's wife and commits hara-kiri with her father's weapon. Okay, so maybe Amy Fisher went to jail instead of impaling herself, but the tragedy comes on like an unstoppable rickshaw in Puccini's masterful 1904 opera, Madame Butterfly. And as proof that geisha girls have more than just one skill, Houston Grand Opera's version, set in Japan, is sung in Italian with English surtitles. Opens 7 p.m. Friday, October 22, and runs through November 13. Wortham Center's Brown Theater, 501 Texas. For information, call 713-228-6737 or visit $15 to $255. -- Bob Ruggiero

Line Up

THU 10/21

An infectiously catchy classic, A Chorus Line is a truly democratic Broadway show. It spotlights the theater's nameless faces -- the chorus -- and the endless auditions, rejections and cutthroat competition that come with life on the big stage. Watch for the crowd-pleasing number "One" ("singular sensation...") -- you know the rest. Opens Thursday, October 21, and runs through November 7. Hobby Center for the Performing Arts, 800 Bagby. For information, call 713-558-8887 or visit $27 to $72. -- Steven Devadanam

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