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This quasi-rock ensemble has made a quasi-career out of completely ignoring the talent-deaf behemoth now known as rock (or pop) radio.

Their material draws on numerous non-commercial influences, such as Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention, Ween and Syd Barrett’s solo works – and yet, somehow maintains an infectious element that will find many adventurous listeners drawn into what it is they’re laying down.

They mix up the more catchy elements of their songwriting with plenty of atonal noise, structured musical chaos and intentional absurdity.

Initially begun as an experimental duo (only founding member Jason Mullinax remains in the current lineup) devoted to making amateur home recordings of mood-music – often played on toy instruments or improvised noisemakers – they have now grown into a quartet whose live shows and recorded output are apt to draw comparisons to everyone from the Boredoms and The Residents to Rush (!) and King Crimson.

Are they metal pranksters? Do they compose ambient soundtracks needing films? Are they unrepentant Primus fans?

The answer to all these questions is a resounding yes.

Mandible is loud, abrasive, twisted and much more daring than 90% of the bands that come through town. You may not wind up liking what they do (they’ll never enjoy anything remotely like mainstream success), but their hearts are in it, and it’s most definitely worth checking out if you appreciate artistic nonconformity in the face of overwhelming odds.

This may be one of their last gigs in town for a while, as they are in the process of leaving Columbia, South Carolina for a new base of operations in the nation’s capital.

Also appearing on this bill are The Nein, an intriguing and worthwhile regional guitar-based alt.rock trio who have much to offer in the way of energy and hooks. Fri., The Jinx.

Comedy Night at The Bean

Conventional wisdom states that the only type of standup comedy that can thrive in an environment without alcohol is Christian comedy. And no, I’m not talking about ill-conceived Sunday morning sermons.

There are scores of faith-based coffeeshops and teen centers around the country that book “wholesome comedians” whose material seems to eerily intersect with the fundamentalist politics of the Conservative Christian movement – my hometown had one called, get this: The Fire Escape – but The Sentient Bean isn’t part of that circuit.

No, they’re a defiantly counterculture meeting place whose performance space regularly presents songwriters, poets, political activists and indie films. However, this Friday night, they’re giving yet another type of diversion a chance, by hosting an entire evening of standup.

And though the strongest thing to drink at The Bean is probably a triple espresso, this won’t be a revival meeting in Miami Vice couture.

Headliner Mark A. Colella recently moved here from the Cleveland area, where he was one of the more celebrated solo acts on that town’s noted standup scene. A former member of the sketch comedy troupe The Human Zoo, he’s known for a dry, deadpan wit that some have likened to Woody Allen.

He’s preparing to represent Atlanta’s comedy scene at the 2004 Las Vegas Comedy Festival, and a few months back was named Best Local Standup Comic by Cleveland Magazine.

Opening act Nathan Dean of Brunswick is sometimes known as The Waffle House Poet, for his humorous true-to-life take on growing up as a stoned employee of that ubiquitous diner chain. He got his start on the Poetry Slam circuit, but soon realized his material might lend itself more to the comedy realm.

Hosting this inaugural event will be Barry Wright, “The Manic Mechanic,” a ZZ Top fan who’s known to work blue.

It’ll be interesting to see how The Bean fares as a standup venue. Since the town has not had a regular outlet for straight-up comedy in years, success for this show might mean that tide is changing. Fri., 8 pm, The Sentient Bean.


Eric Moore & Brock Butler

Moore is a towering presence on the local club scene, not only for his deft touch on the bass guitar, but for his powerhouse vocals.

Known for his longstanding gig as part of The Permanent Tourists’ excellent rhythm section (and as de facto leader of Voodoo Soup, a high-octane jam collective based out of JJ Cagney’s), this gig reunites him with guitarist and vocalist Butler, who has since gone on to become the frontman for Savannah’s Perpetual Groove – a psychedelic rock act that’s earning a loyal following nationwide.

For this rare duo show, the two will likely overhaul some of their old rock, soul and funk favorites. Wed., Fiddler’s Crab House.