SpiritFest is generally a musical extravaganza that, as far as artistic merit goes, isn't worth its weight in beer. Moreover, fans who must hear the bands but want to avoid the tomfoolery need only find a spot in nearby neighborhoods, since the music is loud enough to carry. But even though it's neither edgy nor trendy, this year's lineup does include at least one act worth mentioning: The B-52's, who roam if they want to but will manage to stay in one place long enough for a show at Penn Valley Park, 32nd Street and Broadway, at 6 tonight. This outlandishly retro band might bring back embarrassing memories, but B-52's shows are entertaining and the music is fun. Besides, since the band members wore all those wigs and platforms and sang with such candy-coated voices, it might be cool to see evidence that they're flesh-and-blood people. Admission costs $12 at the gate. For more information, call 816-221-4444.
Sex and violence are staples in most recipes for excitement. Big Jeter's got both. The band's repertoire includes refrains of "I'm never gonna stop fucking you tonight" and a cover of "Three Times a Lady" that uses squeals and sighs to imply exactly what it takes to become thrice a lady. And the band sponsors an A/V club that shows movies such as the kung fu favorite Shogun Assassin, which screens tonight at the Fine Arts Theater, 5909 Johnson Drive in Mission. The movie includes what Dave Kehr of The Chicago Reader has poetically dubbed "lyrical decapitations filmed against the sun." Prior to the movie, Big Jeter -- claiming to be "the greatest band in the history of mass slaughter" -- will play a little ditty inspired by the film. Admission is $5, and seating begins at midnight. For more information, call 816-471-1190.
Most people never have to track down an actual sound effect for a horn honk, so audiences might not appreciate just how much work Jake Walker and Henry Vick put into their two-man show, Tag. The 22-year-old writers and performers impose a slew of such hardships on themselves. They chose not to cast themselves in multiple roles; each actor plays one character throughout the show. When a third party would normally enter the action, they rely instead on sound effects (hence, the honking horn). The play is about Dickie and Billy, who begin a game of tag that spirals out of control and results in international consequences. But they don't have anyone to help them settle the score if an argument arises as to whether the verdict "you're it" is legitimate, so we hope they can resolve disputes peacefully. If not, we'll count on them to at least do so humorously, since past shows have proven their ability to harvest laughs. Tag, at Westport Coffeehouse Theatre, 4010 Pennsylvania, starts at 8 p.m. Admission is $6. For more information, call 816-756-3222.
Ghost World is the perfect Labor Day flick for two kinds of people: cynical high school and college-aged kids trying to make themselves understood among classmates, and people who were once part of this demographic and look back with nostalgia, knowing that they'll never again actually believe that they're smarter than everyone else. Based on Daniel Clowes' wildly successful graphic novel of the same name, Ghost World, showing at the Tivoli, 4050 Pennsylvania, tells the story of Enid (Thora Birch), an eighteen-year-old who fears she'll soon die of sexual frustration. She won't, however, go out with the "extroverted pseudobohemian losers" who seem to surround her. Meanwhile, her best friend, Rebecca (Scarlett Johansson), is becoming more and more "normal," in spite of her ungirlish claim that cute boys give her "a total boner." On screen, these actresses bear uncanny resemblances to Clowes' drawings. And while Enid and Rebecca can be immature and superficial, Clowes and screenwriter Terry Zwigoff make us feel a genuine affection for them. For more information, call 816-561-5222.
The Rose Garden in Loose Park, 51st and Summit, is a favorite spot for weddings, but the problem with relying on weddings to lure you to this colorfully aromatic garden is that you must first be invited. Fortunately, there's a public event at the Rose Garden tonight, so no formal invitation is necessary. Ballet in the Park, a Kansas City Ballet performance of Lento, Allegro Brillante, Link and Frankie and Johnny, starts at 6:30. The first two variations are classical, while the latter two pieces are more offbeat. Meanwhile, rugged parkgoers who have something other than pointe shoes and petals in mind can bring Frisbees and pretend not to like ballet so that no one calls them sissies. For more information, call 816-931-2232.
Unity Temple on the Plaza, 707 West 47th Street, holds a workshop called Tao of Living on Wednesdays from 6 to 7 p.m. Although The Tao of Pooh and The Te of Piglet are fine texts, the study group chooses to use the Tao Te Ching as the basis for its discussions. That's not to say, however, that members wouldn't welcome analogies to residents of A.A. Milne's Enchanted Forest. For anyone who needs to read up on Taoism before joining discussions, the bookstore in the basement, right beside Eden Alley, stocks a good supply of books on Eastern philosophy. For more information, call 816-561-4466.