If U.K. punk O.G.s The Mekons seemed to be running out of ideas in recent years—they rerecorded their earliest anthems (Punk Rock) and released an all-acoustic album (Natural)—Ancient & Modern 1911-2011 is a pleasant return to form. Which is to say it’s a welcome about-face, another 180 from a band that’s mostly made a career of them. But instead of exploring a single new idea, Ancient & Modern finds a litany of fresh directions within The Mekons’ twisted cowpunk rubric. “Space in Your Face” is the kind of valedictory fist-pumper Alejandro Escovedo might bring to Bruce Springsteen for a collaboration. “Calling All Demons” is a backwoods banger, all bravery and whiskey. “Geeshie” is straight outta Tin Pan Alley. Weirdly, the gruffer Jon Langford sings, the more he sounds like Joe Strummer, the late Clash frontman whose “White Riot” inspired the 1978 Mekons spoof “Never Been in a Riot.” How’s that for longevity? The Mekons play an acoustic show with Chris Mills at 8 p.m. at Iota Club and Café, 2832 Wilson Blvd., Arlington. $16.
Palatably destructive New Jersey punks Screaming Females are at the Black Cat with Underground Railroad to Candyland. $12. 8 p.m.
The Funk Ark plays around town all the time, but the Afrobeat-revival band’s gig tonight is special: The ensemble from the musical Fela, currently on stage at the Harman Center, will play a set. 8:30 p.m. at Rock & Roll Hotel. $10.
Steve Kiviat says you should not miss tonight’s Maracuyeah dance party at Napoleon, feauring a live set from Colombian cumbia DJ/singer Pernett. 10 p.m. $5.
Norman is a tribute by the Montreal-based directors Michel Lemieux and Victor Pilon to Norman McLaren, the groundbreaking animator and filmmaker. The show involves a dancer, Peter Trosztmer, interacting with holographic shapes and characters. 7:30 p.m. at the Kennedy Center. $30-$50.
At 6:30 p.m. at the Mexican Cultural Institute, Alex Webb discusses his photographs of the U.S./Mexican border.