Madison hosts its biggest party weekend of the year with of double dose of Halloween and UW Homecoming. The costumed holiday revelry include a downtown Family Halloween, Fall Fest at Aldo Leopold, a Four Shillings Short show for Samhain at Wil-Mar, two nights of Freakin' Halloweekend tribute bands at the High Noon, the '80s vs. '90s Costume Ball at the Majestic, a Dirty Disco Kidz dance party at Segredo, the Crystal Corner Halloween Party, Halloqueen at Plan B, Inferno Halloween Bash, Freakfest on State Street, and Halloween at the Zoo. Concurrent campus celebrations include a parade and the big game on the gridiron, along with a book reading by Matt Lepay and a talk by Ben Karlin. The calendar also includes: a photo exhibit by Greg Conniff; standup by a quartet of Bob & Tom Show vets; a production of A Masked Ball; performances by the Pro Arte Quartet and the Atlantic Harp Duo; and, more live music from Glen & Grant-Lee Phillips, The Infamous Stringdusters, White Denim, Savoir Adore, and Diamond Rings.
NOTEWORTHY: President George W. Bush signs Patriot Act into law, 2001.
State Street and Capitol Square, 2-5 pm
Bring your little hobos and cowboys downtown for Halloween magic shows, musical performances, hayrides, trick or treating at participating businesses -- and even photos at the Isthmus office, 101 King St.
University Book Store-downtown, 4:30 pm
Lepay, the voice of Badgers football and basketball, signs his book Why Not Wisconsin? From Barry to Bo: Broadcasting the Badgers from the Best Seat in the House. He offers insight into UW athletics, including behind-the-scenes glimpses of the coaches.
Watrous Gallery in the Overture Center, through Dec. 23. Reception: 5-8 pm. Artist talk: 7 pm
The Madison photographer presents a retrospective exhibition called -30-, featuring black-and-white images that find beauty in places where you don't normally expect it. Conniff aims his camera at landscapes where wildness intersects with the built environment.
Union South Marquee, 5:30 pm
The UW alum offers free advice on creating a hit show in Hollywood, based on his experiences as a producer for The Daily Show and Modern Family.
Aldo Leopold Nature Center, 5:30-8 pm
This Halloween event features a kids' costume parade, holiday-themed activities and a search for nocturnal animals.
Parade: 600 block of Wisconsin Avenue to West Gilman Street to the 500 block of State Street, 6 pm. Game: Saturday, Oct. 27, Camp Randall Stadium, 2:30 pm
The parade will rev us up on Friday, followed by the Badgers crushing Michigan State on Saturday. Right?
Redamte Coffee House, 7:30 & 10 pm
Two of the most distinctive alt-rock voices of the '90s happen to share the same last name, and they'll share the same stage as well at this show. Glen might delve into the catalog of his band Toad the Wet Sproket, and Grant-Lee could highlight songs from his trio Grant Lee Buffalo or his time as town troubadour on Gilmore Girls.
Overture Hall, 8 pm. Also Sunday, Oct. 28, 2:30 pm
Tenor William Joyner, baritone Hyung Yun and soprano Alexandra LoBianco star in Madison Opera's production of Verdi's lush tragic opera about the murder of Sweden's King Gustav III. A Q&A with general director Kathryn Smith will follow each performance.
Barrymore Theatre, 8 pm
These veterans of radio's Bob & Tom Show offer a standup-comedy sampler. Bedore will riff on his daughter, Hahn will wear you out with his manic delivery, and Hastings will joke about being an actual Ohio mayor.
Wil-Mar Center, 8 pm
To celebrate both Halloween and Samhain, the Gaelic harvest festival, the duo play Celtic music on more than 20 instruments.
High Noon Saloon, 8 pm. Also Saturday, Oct. 27, 8 pm
The mother of all local tribute-band parties will feature homages to Depeche Mode, Hole and Beck on Friday, and Bikini Kill, Boston and Violent Femmes on Saturday. Other bars and clubs hosting tribute bands this weekend include the Frequency, the Rigby and Mickey's Tavern.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
This Grammy-nominated bluegrass band are more famous than infamous, unless they're using the banjos for nefarious purposes. Assess their virtue to the tune of their newest album, Silver Sky. With Horseshoes & Hand Grenades.
UW Union South Sett, 9 pm
Though they're not a jam band, this Austin, Texas, quartet get away with extended improvisational sets because they make them seem so snappy. This is a testament to precise playing, odd time signatures and spunk siphoned from Detroit's early garage-rock scene. With Maps & Atlases and Team Spirit.
NOTEWORTHY: U.S. prison population tops 1 million for first time, 1994.
State Street, 7 pm
State Street will morph into a writhing mass of zombies, vampires and sexy spiders at this evening of outdoor concerts and costume contests. Headliners are frat-rapper Mac Miller and electronic duo Big Gigantic, and support includes Nobody Beats the Drum, Roster McCabe, Gentlemen Hall and Prof. Head to the Ticketmaster stage by 11 pm for costume judging.
UW Humanities Building, Mills Hall, 8 pm
At this free concert, the UW's much-lauded string quartet will perform "Death and the Maiden," Schubert's chilling ode to human mortality. Other works include Mozart's Adagio and Fugue in C Minor and Haydn's String Quartet in F Major.
Majestic Theatre, 9 pm
Ever wonder who'd win in a dance-off between New Kids on the Block and 'N Sync? This is just the place to find out. Prizes will be awarded for the best '80s and '90s icons, and DJs Nick Nice and Fusion will broadcast tunes from both decades well past the haunting hour.
Crystal Corner Bar, 9 pm
Got an urge to wield a trident or lightning bolt? You're in luck: "Gods and goddesses" is the theme of this year's Halloween bash and parade. VO5 will summon the spirits of disco deities such as Donna Summer and Gloria Gaynor.
Segredo, 9 pm
Marvel at this local group's turntable skills as they swathe Segredo's dance floor in club bangers, funky crunk and other danceable fare.
Plan B, 9 pm
You may need to consult UrbanDictionary.com before this party, where indieQueer and Plan B will award $500 worth of prizes to Madison's "queeriest" costumes. With DJ Fuzzy Duck and Davina Deville.
Inferno, 9 pm
King Kongs and Godzillas, listen up: This year's Halloween fete draws inspiration from classic monster movies. The club will award more than $1,000 in cash and prizes throughout the night as DJs Christian Rokk and Whiterabbit spin tunes that range from scary to sexy. Halloween festivities actually begin with a Friday-night party featuring lasers, even more costume contests and DJ sets by Bassex and DRC.
UW Memorial Union Rathskeller, 9:30 pm
This New York City dream-pop band will perform selections from their new album, Our Nature. Also listen for their cover of Men Without Hats' "Pop Goes the World," which appeared in a recent Tide commercial. With Royal Canoe and Sun Airway.
NOTEWORTHY: St. Louis arch completed, 1965.
Vilas Zoo, 10 am-4 pm
For a change, the animals will be staring at the humans, who'll look mighty strange in their Halloween costumes. The event features trick or treating, an activity tent and live music by Ken & the Kenland Band at 11 am.
Stoughton Opera House, 4 pm
In from Paris, these award-winning harpists will strum their way through classical works such as Handel's Suite for Two Harpsichords and Debussy's Six Épigraphs Antiques.
Frequency, 8 pm
Though he got started in the indie-rock band Matters, John O'Regan has gained the most praise as Diamond Rings, a solo act that combines booming electro-pop with all sorts of shiny things, including glitter, spandex and a light show. (See Tour Stop.) With Gold Fields.