Much of the excitement of rock shows comes from not knowing what to expect from the band. The two acts playing at the Galaxy Hut this weekend pride themselves on studio experimentation and move freely among musical styles, which should make for a night in which just about anything can happen.

You quickly realize how hard it is to pin down Mandible's sound when you see the dozens of free song samples available on the band's Web site, www.mandibleband.com, where the descriptive labels include "acoustic folk," "heavy metal" and "electronica." The group has been compared to avant-rockers Mr. Bungle, '70s progressive rockers Rush and King Crimson, and musical pranksters Frank Zappa and Ween.

"Essentially, we love all types of music and we try to combine elements of all of our favorite bands into our sound," founding member Jason Mullinax said in an e-mail.

When Mullinax started Mandible, he made home recordings that often featured toy instruments and noisemakers. The current lineup is Spencer Madsen on guitar and vocals, Russell Jones on bass and vocals, and Mullinax -- who also records solo material under the name Pilesar -- on drums and vocals. The group recently added keyboardist Rob Day.

The band originally was based in South Carolina, but members began migrating to the D.C. area when Mullinax's fiancee moved here to attend graduate school. Mullinax wanted to join her and asked the other members to consider relocating.

"We're all involved in multiple bands and recording projects, so essentially we consider our music our career and we felt that we could take it further if we relocated to a larger area," he said. "D.C. is a great hub. There are lots of places to play, and it's close to other cities as well."

As for what people can expect in a Mandible show, Mullinax referred to a review from a Savannah, Ga., publication that said, "Mandible is loud, abrasive, twisted and much more daring than 90 percent 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."

Said Mullinax: "We're not a pop band, but, for an 'experimental' group, we try to maintain a certain accessibility. We just want to have fun and play the types of music that we'd like to hear."

The opening act, Warning: Danger of Death, also is hard to categorize. Its sound includes toy keyboards, analog synths, distorted live/electronic drums, a drone bass and delicate found sounds. The trio, consisting of Joe Houpert, Jean Chrastina and Steve Perrucci, released a full-length CD last month through Fuzzy Panda Recording Co.

On Saturday, the Galaxy Hut will offer another intriguing double bill -- the Sharpshooters, a garage rock band from Fredericksburg, and Spacebar, a Florida-born indie quartet that mixes power pop with electronica.

-- MARIANNE MEYER

The Galaxy Hut is at 2711 Wilson Blvd. in Arlington. Admission, which is $5, is limited to those 21 and older. For more information, call 703-525-8646 or visit www.galaxyhut.com.

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The experimental rock band Mandible, whose members include, from left, Spencer Madsen, Russell Jones and Jason Mullinax, will perform Sunday.