Halloween is the biggest party weekend of the year in town, centered around Freakfest on State Street, and extending to the Downtown Madison Family Halloween, Freakin' Halloweekend at the High Noon, Night of the Dead at the Barrymore, and more festivities at the Frequency, Crystal Corner, Majestic, and Mickey's Tavern. The calendar also includes: productions of La Bohème, Copenhagen, and Ti-Jean and His Brothers; a reading by David Sedaris and a one-man show channeling Mark Twain; an Opera Up Close preview; a performance by Con Vivo; and, more live music from Neon Indian, Mochipet, Art Vs. Science, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Little Big Town.
NOTEWORTHY: President Cleveland dedicates Statue of Liberty at New York Harbor, 1886.
State Street and Capitol Square, 2-5 pm
Doll the little ones up in their cute costumes and take them door-to-door to downtown businesses for Halloween loot, and then to Overture Center for the magic of Wayne the Wizard (2, 3 & 4 pm). You can also stop by the Isthmus office at 101 King St. for a photo. The event is presented by Madison's Central BID and La Bohème
UW Music Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Sunday (3 pm) & Tuesday (7:30 pm), Oct. 30 & Nov. 1
University Opera stages Puccini's masterpiece, the story of four struggling bohemians in Paris. It's filled with beautiful arias and subtle characterizations.
Marquis Ballroom, Fitchburg, 6 pm. Also Thursday, Nov. 3, 7:30 pm
Michael Frayn's play is about the friendship between physicists Neils Bohr and Werner Heisenberg and their fateful conversation in Copenhagen in 1941. Colleen Burns Benefit Theatre is producing this staging, and proceeds go to Friends of Chernobyl Centers.
First Congregational United Church of Christ, 7:30 pm
The local chamber ensemble celebrates its 10th anniversary with Mozart's String Quartet in F Major, K. 515, and his Piano and Wind Quintet in E-Flat Major, K. 452. Also on the program: Flor Peeters' "Ten Studies for Pedal Playing," for organ.
UW Vilas Hall's Hemsley Theatre, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (2 pm), Oct. 29 & 30
University Theatre presents Derek Wolcott's play, which he derived from Caribbean folklore, about brothers who make a bet with the devil. David Furumoto directs, and dance prof Chris Walker contributes movement.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm. Also Saturday, Oct. 29, 8 pm
Local bands will morph into the Flaming Lips, the Black Crowes, Ministry, Blondie and the Smiths as revelers compete for a $300 costume-contest prize at the annual Halloween bash hosted by Dane101 and the High Noon Saloon. The party continues Saturday with tributes to Radiohead, My Bloody Valentine, the Strokes, Guns N' Roses and the Boss.
UW Union South Sett, 8 pm
Named one of the best new bands of 2010 by Rolling Stone, this quartet of electronic musicians bring their sophomore LP, Ers Estraña, to the Sett for an evening of synth-fueled revelry. With Kreayshawn.
Overture Hall, 8 pm
The world-class satirist reads from his work, including his latest book, Chipmunk Seeks Squirrel: A Modest Bestiary. Expect gentle absurdity and hilarious autobiographical oddities.
Barrymore Theatre, 9 pm
It's another Halloween tribute show. Steez will transform into Michael Jackson for the night as the Grasshoppers do their best rendition of Led Zeppelin tunes and the Sandrose Band channel the ghost of Jerry Garcia with their guitars.
Frequency, 9 pm. Also Saturday, Oct. 29, 9 pm
A third Friday-night option for tribute-band lovers includes hilarious metalheads Lords of the Trident as Iron Maiden, plus Crackhammer as Judas Priest, Wall of Funk as the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Tiny Riots as Weezer. The festivities continue on Saturday with Subatomic's tribute to Black Sabbath, Chaos Revolution Theory's take on Pearl Jam, Unusual Hurts' nod to Nirvana and Orphan Bloom's rockin' ode to Soundgarden.
Inferno, 9 pm
This Taiwan-born artist will treat the Inferno to a grab bag of electronic-music styles, including glitch, IDM and breakcore, with plenty of hip-hop and experimental jazz to boot. With Zerobeat, Adoptahighway and P-Kayne.
NOTEWORTHY: Black Tuesday price collapse panics New York Stock Exchange, 1929.
Frequency, 6 pm
The rock club hosts a rare theatrical event: Atlantan Kurt H. Sutton's one-man performance as the iconic American author. Sutton spices up the drollery with period music.
State Street, 7 pm
Costumed hordes will prowl State Street, bands will play, and the city will keep a lid on the festivities. Critically lauded L.A. rapper Murs will showcase the first volume of his Love & Rockets collection. Chicago soul band JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound will make the crowd sweat with catchy, punk-fueled ditties from their just-released album, Want More. The event will also feature performances by indie rockers Neon Trees, dance-friendly ensemble the Ready Set, pop-punk four-piece All Time Low, throwback rock group the Big Strong Men, folk-rock project Quiet Coral and homegrown garage rockers Locksley.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 8:30 pm
This Aussie trio unleash a can of dance-punk whup-ass each time they hit the stage, landing supporting gigs with famous folks such as La Roux. Shimmy up until the Union's curfew, then see what haunts State Street at midnight. With Hey Champ.
Crystal Corner Bar, 9:30 pm
Madison bands Way of the Horse, Venus in Furs and Brainerd will transform into the Misfits, the Menstrual Cramps and the Who in exchange for hoots, hollers and Halloween candy. With Droids Attack.
Majestic Theatre, 10 pm
DJs Nick Nice and Fusion will pump up the retro dance tunes as partiers compete for prizes in three costume categories: music icon, TV character and movie star from the '80s or '90s.
Mickey's Tavern, 10:30 pm
Beer-soaked tributes to Pavement, Nick Cave, the Cramps and the Flaming Lips will melt faces and Sarah Palin masks until the wee hours of the morning.
NOTEWORTHY: Orson Welles incites panic with his radio dramatization of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, 1938
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, 1 pm
Madison Opera gives a multimedia preview of its production of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, the first of the company's season.
Project Lodge, 7 pm
A recent winner of the Telluride Troubadour Competition, this indie folk-rocker has shared the stage with Ani DiFranco, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Brandi Carlile, and his single "If I Go, I'm Goin'" landed on the Showtime dramedy Californication earlier this year. With Fairchildren.
Overture Center's Capitol Theater, 7:30 pm
This coed quartet are like a pop-country Fleetwood Mac, minus the flamboyantly tortured romances. They harmonize beautifully about being from the boondocks, and the boondocks are a fine place to be from.