Lou Reed once said, "You can't beat guitar-bass-drum." Lou may have said it, but Matt Pike lives it. His guitar-bass-drum band, High On Fire, is either unaware of the technological advances made in instrument/amplifier/effect technology or more likely doesn't care. Using last century's amps and guitars, Pike creates a heavy gravitational wave of sound so dense it generates heat. The air around HOF shimmers and warps as Pike stokes the furnace of his Orange amplifiers, unleashing hissing rivers of molten earth that smother audiences in sticky, resin-ating fuzz. The rhythm section of drummer Des Kensel and bassist George Rice operate beyond the realm of "less is more," opting for "less is all." Their steady throb gallops on and on and on, hurtling Pike into endless plains of desolation, which he fills with the devastating riffs of his forefathers. High On Fire is what the race of giants listened to as they constructed Stonehenge and Angkor Wat, and the sound made as Atlantis burned to the sea line. Hear them at 8 p.m. at Pop's (1403 Mississippi Avenue, Sauget, Illinois; 618-274-6720). Tickets are $12-$14. -- Paul Friswold
Shut Yo Mouth
But I'm talkin' 'bout Huggy Bear!
Screw Shaft. The coolest badass to ever strut across a 1970s screen -- silver or small -- was Huggy Bear, the swaggering buddy of Starsky and Hutch who owned the hippest lid collection TV had ever seen. This month, Antonio "Huggy Bear" Fargas will strut across the stage at Washington University's Edison Theatre (6445 Forsyth Boulevard), playing a deacon in the St. Louis Black Repertory Company's production of The Gospel at Colonus.
After receiving a lifetime achievement award from the Black Rep a few years ago, then participating in a children's theater workshop with the company earlier this summer, Fargas was eager to return for the 27th season's opening production, a "gospelized" Greek tragedy. "I've been a big supporter of the St. Louis Black Rep and what they do since I started hearing about them in Los Angeles a few years ago," Fargas says. "I particularly like their youth outreach programs, since I was only fourteen when I started in the business."
Fargas is rooting for the Starsky & Hutch movie remake that's slated to hit theaters next year, with Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson taking on the title roles and Snoop Dogg as Huggy Bear -- even though, unlike series stars David Soul and Paul Michael Glaser, Fargas wasn't asked to do a cameo in the film. "I don't take it personally, and I still want the film to be a success," says Fargas. "I'm glad the show's standing up as a memorable part of TV history, and that people remember Huggy Bear as everybody's favorite anti-hero."
The Gospel at Colonus is performed September 3-21. Tickets cost $20-$25 and can be purchased at 314-534-3810 or www.metrotix.com. -- Rose Martelli
West You Forget
Where have all the singin' cowboys gone? Roy Rogers was stuffed and mounted for posterity along with Trigger, but what happened to Tex Ritter? Did he ride off into the last sunset, bitterly lamenting the end of the two-fisted, no-drinking, no-killing cowboy who sang to his horse instead of nailing the broad by the flickering campfire? Sure, Clint Eastwood is dead-cool in those spaghetti westerns, but even he was once a singing cowboy (Paint Your Wagon, anyone?). Singing cowboys are as entertaining as killer cowboys, but in a different way.
The Great American Wild West Show at the Family Arena (2002 Arena Parkway, 636-896-4200) celebrates both the rootin'-tootin' cowboy and the croonin'-swoonin' cowboy with the kind of spectacle not seen since the Buffalo Bill Shows of the early 1900s. Gun slingers, whip masters, trick riders, the "Native Spirit Dancers" and even an honest-to-gosh singin' cowboy combine their talents to make up the Greatest Show on Dirt. Tickets cost $15-$20 and performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, September 4, through Saturday, September 6, with an 11 a.m. Saturday matinee, and high noon and 6 p.m. shows Sunday, Sept. 7. -- Paul Friswold
The Beats Go On
All this talk that poetry's dead, that there's been irreversible damage done to our language by McDonald's and Instant Messaging -- it's just talk. Poetry is still breathing, still essential, still able to draw blood from the soul. Readings, then, are living as well, and there's a great series happening at Beatnik Bob's Café in the City Museum (701 North 15th Street, belz.net/citymuseumseries/poster.htm, 314-231-2489). You can catch Nate Parker and Joshua Edwards reading their work before they become international poet superstars. The reading's at 8 p.m., and admission is $5. -- Mark Dischinger
Rhymes With Bong
Tommy Chong has weathered the vagaries of pop culture better than anyone would have predicted back in 1985. He split from Cheech and, unlike his former partner, he didn't clean up or attach himself to Don Johnson's plastic carapace. Now who's laughing? Anyone who attends Tommy's show at the Funny Bone Comedy Club (6900 North Illinois, Fairview Heights, Illinois; 618-628-4242), that's who. Self-referential stoner humor sits better than being Nash Bridges' second banana anyday. Tickets are $22-$27, and the show starts at 8 and 10:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. -- Paul Friswold