OK, it wasn't like Paul McCartney or John Lennon breaking up the Beatles, but when Stephen Malkmus (above) left Pavement, there were more than a few distraught souls in indie-rock nation. One critic opined that ''the salad days of indie rock" were over. We, too, loved Pavement's ''Slanted and Enchanted" CD, but that was so last century, and all things must pass. Malkmus is proving himself every bit as smart, sharp, cryptic, and diverse with his outfit called Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks. Malkmus can be a one-man band in the studio, though the Jicks play on four tracks on the new ''Face the Music" disc. They will back him on this brief club tour, which stops at the Paradise tonight. Expect everything from pop to prog-rock. You'll hear long, winding guitar leads, too. The 18-plus show is opened by Paik and starts at 8. Tickets: $15.
967 Commonwealth Ave., 617-562-8800.
Next door to the Paradise is the Paradise Lounge, and, golly, what a job manager Jeff Marshall has done with the former M-80: restaurant, art gallery, and vital facility for small-scale rock and folk acts. Tonight's triple-bill is a real showcase: Topping the lineup is guitarist Johnny Hickman from Cracker. His bandmate David Lowery gets most of the props, but Hickman's written some key tunes and just released a roots-rocking, bittersweet solo disc, ''Palmhenge." He will be preceded by Ike Reilly (inset), whose band, the Ike Reilly Assassination, concocts a volatile punk-folk-rock sound. In ''I Don't Want What You Got (Goin' On)" Reilly sings, ''Cars and girls and drinks and songs/Make this world spin around," followed by this screaming kicker: ''What about love and what about trust?" Lots of celebratory noises are strewn amidst dark lyrics. (Reilly will play not with his full band tonight, but with guitarist-organist Phil Karnatz.) Opening is L.P., who plays tough, melodic folk-rock. ''Get wasted on love, get wasted on life!" she sings on ''Wasted." She will play with an acoustic duo; Reilly and Hickman may join in. Doors open at 7 p.m. for this 18-plus, $8 show.
You may know German director F.W. Murnau for his creepy ''Nosferatu," but he also put Goethe's ''Faust" up on the silver screen. In that film, Faust sells his soul to Satan for youth, wealth, and power. In this restored silent movie, you'll see a plague-stricken village and various demonic creatures. What better film for all-instrumental Boston band Cul de Sac to play to live? ''The mood just hangs in the air like a vapor," says Cul de Sac guitarist Glenn Jones.''We dabble in psychedelia and rock, ambient and noise, improvisation. It's a challenge." Cul de Sac recently played six ''Faust" shows in Europe. ''It was so well-received. Some people were crying," says Jones. It's at the Coolidge Corner Theatre tonight at 7:30. Tickets: $10.
WINING & DINING
Starting tonight, Tasca expands its monthly dinner-and-wine tasting night from one event to three. The restaurant goes down under to Australia and New Zealand, as guest sommelier Veronica Picon presents wine from those countries with a five-course dinner at 7 p.m. Cost: $49.
1612 Commonwealth Ave., Brighton, 617-730-8002.
Harvard Film Archive marches forward with its ''Matters of Life and Death: The Films of Bruno Ganz" series. Tonight's offerings are Wim Wenders's ''The American Friend" at 7 and Reinhard Hauff's ''Knife in the Head" at 9:15. Rest assured, hilarity does not ensue. Murder does. Tickets: $8 each.
24 Quincy St., Cambridge, 617-495-4700.
The American Repertory Theatre presents a distinctly different coupling tonight at the Loeb Drama Center. Marilyn J. Plotkins, Suffolk University professor and founding artistic director of the Boston Music Theatre Project, discusses her book ''The A.R.T. Reference Book: The Brustein Years," at 6:30. That will be followed by Tim Jackson's film ''Chaos and Order: On Making Theatre," which is narrated by ARTveteran Cherry Jones. Free.
64 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-547-8300.
The Femmetastic Fatales (inset) -- described by promoter Aliza Shapiro as ''gorgeous femme queer from Northampton" -- are at the TraniWreck show at Jacques tonight. They'll share the stage with many others. Starts at 10 with a $6 cover.
79 Broadway, 617-426-8902.