October is a time for dressing up and trying on new faces. It can also be the best time to step outside your comfort zone and sample something new. If you’re a fan of bluegrass mandolin, why not expand your horizons into modern jazz with a Muppet-y edge? Are you a hard-core fan of futuristic girl-powered art pop? You’ll be blown away by a costumed collective of would-be Transformers. Or if the last rap you listened to came out of a boom box in the ’80s, you’re overdue to find out what East Coast hip hop sounds like in 2019. And if all that sounds good, then congratulations: I’ve got a month of awesome entertainment picked out just for you.
The Cybertronic Spree at Mercury Lounge
Gen-X kids with a love for action figures will have fond and campy memories of the original 1986 cartoon movie adaptation of The Transformers, featuring voice work by Judd Nelson, Eric Idle, Leonard Nimoy, and Orson Welles (in his final film work). The soundtrack is a particularly tasty ’80s madeleine, packed with hair-metal classics like Stan Bush’s “The Touch” and Lion’s deathless interpretation of the theme song. Cosplay-clad cover band the Cybertronic Spree will be performing those hits and more otaku-approved theme songs at this two-night Mercury Lounge residency.
Live From Here at Town Hall
Since 2016, mandolin maestro and big-show impresario Chris Thile has been the host of the long-running A Prairie Home Companion. (The toxic fallout of Garrison Keillor’s #MeToo-related firing occasioned a rebranding of the NPR mainstay and it now continues as Live From Here.) Along with his versatile band, Thile is generally joined at each taping by an eclectic handful of boldfaced names; these two October shows at Times Square’s Town Hall are no exception. Phish’s Trey Anastasio, I’m With Her’s Sarah Jarosz, and Wynton Marsalis will stop by on October 12; legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon and Lake Street Dive’s lead singer, Rachael Price, is scheduled to appear on October 26.
Chris Thile: Live From Here
123 West 43rd Street (between Sixth Avenue and Broadway), Midtown
Saturday October 12 and Saturday, October 26
Doors open at 5:15 p.m.
Tickets start at $76
Charli XCX at Terminal 5
The cheekily clever 20-something Charli XCX has been moving away from radio rock and EDM of late and is solidly establishing herself as one the foremost art-pop artists of the past decade. The shift to the avant-garde makes sense; though radio pop has been less than supportive of the Brit singer-songwriter’s experimental streak, her devoted fan base is likely to trail wherever she goes. The second night of Charli’s two-night stand at Terminal 5 is already sold out, but those who hustle can likely still score tickets for the Monday show to hear tracks from her latest self-titled LP, Charli. The album is studded with guest appearances from Troye Sivan, Christine and the Queens, Lizzo, Clairo, and Big Freedia. It’s a safe bet that a few high-wattage stars may choose to stop by.
Sesame Street at Lincoln Center
On first blush, the odd couple blend of the venerable children’s television show Sesame Street with Wynton Marsalis might seem like a stretch. Those of us who were fans of the often-swinging songs that Sesame’s resident composers, Joe Raposo, Christophe Cerf, and Jeffrey Moss, brought to the program, though, will need no convincing. Marsalis and his virtuosic crew will perform new arrangements of a handful of those classic tunes (fingers crossed for an updated take on the Pointer Sisters pinball song), assisted by Big Bird and Elmo “live” and in person on the stage of Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater. My inner 8-year-old can hardly wait.
Swingin’ Sesame Street 50th Anniversary Celebration With the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Theater
10 Columbus Circle, 5th Floor (at West 60th Street), Upper West Side
Friday, October 25 and Saturday, October 26
7 p.m. on Friday; 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday
Tickets start at $40; premium seats run up to $140
Flatbush Zombies at Brooklyn Steel
What screams “New York Halloween” more than a night with the ostentatiously 420-friendly Brookly hip-hop trio Flatbush Zombies? Fronting a style perhaps best described as “tie-dyed horror-core punk,” the Zombies—along with erstwhile collaborators A$AP Mob, the Underachievers, and Pro Era—are among the cliques that have come to define NYC’s role in 2000’s rap…not bad for a trio that first came to prominence on the back of a single titled “Thug Waffle.” Tonight’s special holiday show marks the band’s last East Coast stop on their 18-month Vacation in Hell Tour. They’ll celebrate with a costume contest for attendees; the winner walks away with a thousand bucks.
319 Frost Street, Williamsburg
Thursday, October 31