Halloween is at long last here, and there is a wealth of parties around town to mark the spooky season, starting with Freakfest on State Street. There's plenty other options to be found, though, including: live music by The Acorn, Atmosphere, Mark Hetzler, Kris Delmhorst, Helliphant, Idina Menzel, and Vancougar; productions of Elmo Makes Music, Exchange at Café Mimosa, and Jason and the Argonauts; book readings by Sara Rath and D.C.A. Hillman; and finally, a get-out-the-early-vote rally led by Wilco. Have fun, stay safe, and don't forget to fall back as Daylight Savings Time ends.
Sesame Street Live's Elmo Makes Music
Alliant Energy Center's Coliseum, 2 pm. Also Saturday (10:30 am & 2 pm) & Sunday (1 & 4:30 pm), Nov. 1 & 2
Well, tickle us all. With Big Bird and other notables, the plucky monster Elmo is here in the flesh -- um, fur -- to sing pop chestnuts ("The Hustle") and those great, deceptively simple Sesame Street ditties like "C is for Cookie."
Exchange at Cafe Mimosa
Bartell Theatre, 8 pm. Also Saturday, Nov. 1, 8 pm
Mercury Players Theatre presents the 2001 play by the Romanian dramatist Oana-Maria Cajal. In the espionage-tinged farce, American and European couples are summoned to meet on an island; absurdism ensues.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Madison's queer-themed party promoting enterprise indieQueer hosts this holiday bash, featuring entertainment by DJs Nick Nice, Tizzy and Real Jaguar, plus drag specialists the Ginger Devils. The gays always have the best Halloween costumes, so pay close attention.
Cafe Montmartre, 9:30 pm
Fresh off of a U.K. tour with Akron/Family, the Ottawa-based indie rockers stop in Madison before joining Calexico for a tour of the States. The band's full-length debut, Glory Hope Mountain, is a richly instrumented exploration of a young woman's migration from Honduras to Montreal. The kicker? This woman just happens to be frontman Rolf Klausener's mom. Also playing: the Shaky Hands, Ohbijou.
Orpheum Theatre, 8 pm
No strangers to Madison, Rapper-DJ duo Sean Daley and Anthony Davis (a.k.a. Slug and Ant) bring their hip-hop storytelling craft to our city in support of their new album, When Life Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold, which is built upon live instrumentation rather than the sampling that has characterized their earlier albums. Also playing: Abstract Rude, Blueprint, DJ Rare Groove.
Concert for Change
Wisconsin Union Theater, noon
Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama may have canceled that big Madison rally, but other celebrities are showing up to champion his cause. Wilco members Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt and Pat Sansone headline this event, which also features Sen. Russ Feingold and Rep. Tammy Baldwin.
Waldenbooks West Towne, 1 pm
The Madison author appears on behalf of her latest novel, Night Sisters, about occult doings at the Wocanaga Spiritualist Camp.
Downtown stages, 7 pm
The city of Madison made downtown Halloween hooligans a offer they couldn't refuse: Stop smashing windows, and we'll sell you tickets to an entertainment festival. The Capitol Square stage features rockers O.A.R., Donavon Frankenreiter, the Hard Lessons, San Francisco's Thriving Ivory and the Dollyrots. On the Gilman Street stage are local favorites Natty Nation, Awesome Car Funmaker, the Box Social, the Blueheels and Mighty Short Bus. DJ Will Calder spins at the Frances Street stage, and the Gorham Street stage has screenings of Beetlejuice, Psycho and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. So have fun, y'all, and don't do anything we'll all regret.
UW Mills Hall, 8 pm
Trombonist Hetzler, of the UW's music department, performs a program called "The Sinister Trombone" with local jazz aces Vincent Fuh, Nick Moran and Jamie Ryan.
Cafe Montmartre, 7:30 pm
Like many singer-songwriters before her, Kris Delmhorst recorded her newest album, Shotgun Singer, during a solitary sojourn at a rural cabin. This period of introspection helped create an album that's both complex and understated, folky at some moments and undeniably poppy at others. Also playing: Wisconsin's own Jeffrey Foucault and the Get-Rites.
Helliphant CD Release Show
Frequency, 10 pm
The psychedelic metal-rock of Helliphant takes center stage at the Frequency as the band shows off a new album that draws upon influences such as Plastic and the Skintones. Also playing: the Facesteak, Cribshitter.
Jason and the Argonauts
Overture Center's Capitol Theatre, 1 pm
The Scots children's theater troupe Visible Fictions stages the ancient myth about adventure on the high seas and the ever-elusive golden fleece.
A Room of One's Own, 2 pm
The UW-Madison Ph.D. discusses his book The Chemical Muse, about the proposition that the ancients got real high and thought deep thoughts.
Wisconsin Union Theater, 8 pm
The Broadway star made her name with performances in Rent and Wicked (she won a Tony for that one), and in the film Enchanted. Her 2008 CD I Stand was helmed by Glen Ballard, of Alanis Morisette's Jagged Little Pill fame.
Frequency, 8 pm
Vancouver's favorite all-girl foursome brings its catchy pop-punk melodies to Madison to promote its Mint Records debut, Canadian Tuxedo. Also playing: the Grizzlies, the Hussy.