As if great beer weren't reward enough, you can earn prizes for sampling local craft beverages
CAGE THE ELEPHANT
9 p.m., Revolution. $20.
Take a listen to Cage the Elephant and you may agree that the band is in a peculiar squeeze. The catchy Kentucky rockers make genre-squashing sounds that are too indie to be totally embraced by the mainstream forces that be (Clear Channel) and too mainstream to be adopted by fickle indie tastemakers. But here, from the middle, it's a lot more rewarding to look at the band favorably because of what it is: a happily midfield gang of Southern swag-rockers who draw equally from late Red Hot Chili Peppers crackerfunk and early Beck folk-rap, making wiry, party-ready good tunes to be bad to. It's a shock that the sonic hole they fill hasn't been occupied before. At least not as successfully, that is. Singles like "In One Ear" and the band's breakthrough song, "Ain't No Rest for the Wicked," set the tone for the band, spastic, reckless and gleefully decadent. And "Shake Me Down," their newest single, which debuted at the number-one spot on the iTunes store (the new golden standard for pushing units), is the uncommon example of an act that flipped its sophomore slump on its head. On the first album, frontman Matthew Schultz sings "all the critics that despise us, go ahead and criticize us" with a defiant spit. This writer's sitting out of the provocation. Heck, they're a blast.
Opening: Biffy Clyro, the Scottish three-piece that, this year, joined Muse, Franz Ferdinand and Moby as winners of NME's "Best Live Band" award. The group will return to Little Rock on May 18 as the warm-up for Foo Fighters and Motorhead at Verizon. Also, Sleeper Agent, a fellow band of manic Bowling Green, Ky., natives, tags along for the national tour. Why does that matter? These guys should still be hungry. We'll be showing up early for 'em.
FETE DU FILM
7 p.m., Arkansas Arts Center lecture hall. Free.
Little Rock may be a burgeoning hub for movie appreciation, but it's still a rough place for staunch cinefiles. Netflix, Hulu, Mubi and, a new favorite, Fandor, are invaluable freeways for film geeks, but as our way of accessing hard-to-find greats gets easier and easier, one fact remains truer than ever: Movies are meant to be seen, studied, enjoyed and appreciated with others, at once, on a screen. That's why I'm thrilled about Fete du Film, a small-but-mighty series of three French films, chosen by UALR's Department of World Languages and the Arkansas Arts Center as part of the museum's ongoing Francocentric exhibit, "The Impressionists and Their Influence." The series begins on Thursday with an enormously entertaining classic from early master Rene Clair, "Under the Roofs of Paris." (No, I'm not typing out the French title; my pretentiousness actually does know an end, y'all.) The series returns on May 5 with "The Story of Adele H.," new wave icon Francois Truffaut's period piece about Victor Hugo's daughter, and ends on June 2 with "Seraphine," Martin Provost's 2008 film about turn-of-the-century art figures Seraphine Louis and Wilhelm Unde, which took home the "Best Film" Cesar Award, the French equivalent of the Oscars.
'SUPPORT SHOOG RADIO'
9 p.m., Revolution. $8.
Local rock radio is alive and well. And it's in good hands! Every Monday afternoon from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., KABF 88.3 broadcasts "Shoog Radio" (think Nancy Gribble's preferred term of endearment), a Little Rock-centric program dedicated to promoting the town's numerous, ultra-active, gig-friendly bands. It's hosted and programmed by Christy Ewing and Cheyenne Matthews, two local music boosters with the complete opposite of "radio face." They'll take to the stage to host "Support Shoog Radio," a fund-raiser for KABF that's set to offer a killer five-band bill of local (and Times) favorites. In alphabetical order: Booyah! Dad, the buzzy hard-rock/dance trio; Ginsu Wives, the defining local cult band powered by X-rated synths, bracing vocal effects and deep booty beats; The Reparations, whose new album, "Ride or Die," is 40 minutes of the rowdy, brainy Southern rockers at their best; Sweet Eagle, a local super-group that stays drunk on Nuggets-era garage rock and Dead Boys-style Midwestern punk; and Winston Family Orchestra, whose piano/drum/bass twist on pop makes up "Valloween," a dangerously addictive album that rocks for the kid in everybody. Check out video of the bands and more on Shoog's piece of Internet real estate at shoogradio.blogspot.com.
9:30 p.m., Revolution. $10 adv., $15 d.o.s.
Who would've thought, at the dawn of the century, that Afroman, of all people, would still be able, in 2011, to make a living off of his music. Especially after that one Biz Markie-style novelty single he did. You know, the one that needs no introduction at all. Don't get it twisted: That song is great for what it is and may the Ganja Goddess strike us down if we didn't all sing along to it back in 2000, if not as an anthem, then as a goofy, catchy tune. But in three minutes, Afroman manages to stain years of hard, complicated efforts like NORML to present marijuana policy (and use) in a mature, progressive way. As a spokesman for the weed, a Robert Altman or Mark Emery he isn't. But like it or not, Afroman actually does play an astonishingly important role in the history of music: The goof-rap one-hit wonder is generally acknowledged as the first musician whose success is indebted, in toto, to the Internet. After all, whose Napster library didn't have "Because I Got High" in it? Yep. Afroman: the accidental technological/musical trailblazer to be forever regarded as the web's first music meme. Then again, I guess it's no shock that he's less Nas and more like Rebecca Black, Tay Zonday or that awesome "Pants on the Ground" guy. La de da, da, da, da ...
'THE LAST NIGHT OF BALLYHOO'
7:30 p.m., The Weekend Theater. $14.
This Friday, the Weekend Theater opens its doors for the season's penultimate production, "The Last Night of Ballyhoo." The period piece, set in 1939 Atlanta, follows the Freitags, a Southern Jewish family whose concern about atrocities against the Jews in Europe is overshadowed by the holidays, the family business, the local premiere of "Gone With the Wind" and, notably, the upcoming Ballyhoo dance, the social event of the season. While heavy at times, as many of the black box theater's productions are, director Andy Hall maintains that, at its core, the show is "an old-fashioned romantic comedy." Also, it's written by the author of "Driving Miss Daisy," Alfred Uhry, who knows a good little bit about smooth-but-potent Southern satire.
MIKE EPPS & FRIENDS
8 p.m., Robinson Center Music Hall. $38.50-$44.50.
The biggest comedy club in downtown is opening its doors to another veteran of the "Friday" series (last week's Sommore featured in the third) when Mike Epps, the comedian/actor/prolific Tweeter brings his national tour to Little Rock. A by-the-numbers cut-up in the movies, Epps' comedy twists to the goofy everyman shtick. A sweep of footage from his stand-up videos includes topics like: President Obama smoking weed, special ed classes, "The First 48," Chris Brown and Rihanna. Also joining Epps: Capone, the "Gangsta of Comedy" and rotating host of "Showtime at the Apollo"; Shawty Shawty, "the Rockstar of Comedy" and "Wild 'n Out" veteran, and, best of all, Lil JJ, the 20-year-old Little Rock-born comedian whose seven-year acting career has taken him to "All That," a starring role on another Nickelodeon show, "Just Jordan," and, now, a regular spot on TNT's acclaimed "Men of a Certain Age."