Costumes Are Optional for the Best Non-Halloweeny Concerts in NYC This Weekend


For more shows throughout the weekend, check out our New York Concert Calendar, which we update daily.

For those who don’t want to cover themselves in head-to-toe body paint or sweat beneath a plastic mask that reeks of toxic fumes all night, there are plenty of Halloween options that don’t involve dressing like a sexy version of something that is decidedly unsexy. Might we suggest going to one of these rock ‘n’ roll shows? With free offerings from House of Vans, which hosts a Flipper throwback fronted by Jesus Lizard yelper David Yow, and Converse Rubber Tracks, which sponsors an eight-night tour starring the Orwells starting right here at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, you don’t have to spend a dime — just be sure to wear the appropriate shoes. If hiking boots are more your style, you can literally take a hike with four bands up the side of Mount Taurus in Cold Spring, New York, for Mountain Show XXVI. Just don’t dress as your favorite Beatle for Ringo Starr’s stop at Kings Theatre. That might get a bit confusing.

Friday 10/30
Big Freedia
Irving Plaza
11:30 p.m., $20
Long before Miley twerked, Big Freedia perfected booty-shaking as one of the pioneers of New Orleans’s bounce scene, helping to bring both the musical genre and the dance craze to the mainstream. She’s also the realest star on reality television, and to celebrate the September 30 premiere of Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce on Fuse, now in its fourth season, the outré performer brings her butt-worshipping stage show to venues all across the country. With “cabaret rapper” Boyfriend and Seattle dream-poppers Hibou as supporting acts, the tour makes a stop at Irving Plaza this Friday. The party doesn’t get going until just before midnight, but Big Freedia’s unstoppable jams — like her newest single, “Crazy” — will make that ass clap all night long. — Lindsey Rhoades

Cypress Hill
PlayStation Theater
8 p.m., $33.50
Colorado, Oregon, and Washington can all cough up a small thank-you to L.A. rappers Cypress Hill, who made their career spitting rhymes and advocating for recreational marijuana use. Their second album, Black Sunday, released in 1993, earned them the status of quintessential Gen X stoner-hop, with massive hits like “Insane in the Brain” and “Hits From the Bong”; their appearance in a classic Simpsons episode only solidified that position. They haven’t slowed down since their Clinton-era heyday, releasing consistent albums, touring regularly, and reminding fans everywhere to stick that in your pipe and smoke it. — Silas Valentino

Joanna Gruesome
Rough Trade NYC
8 p.m., $12
Because it’s so close to Halloween, there might be a few folks who walk in to Rough Trade on Friday night expecting a zombiefied tribute to Joanna Newsom. But the Cardiff pop-punk act that goes by the name of Joanna Gruesome has nothing to do with either Halloween or the harpist, as fans of their 2013 breakout Weird Sister, with its standout, shout-along single “Secret Surprise,” already know. Still, their set will be anything but predictable; Alanna McArdle, the lead vocalist, departed the band shortly after they recorded this year’s follow-up, the mile-a-minute, ultra-melodic Peanut Butter. She’ll be replaced by Kate Stonestreet and Roxy Brennan, both of whom have spent time fronting other U.K. punk bands. The reformed Gruesomes have already started penning new songs, but the set will be peppered with new versions of the old material as well. Get there early for openers King of Cats and Aye Nako, who recently won Best Garage Band in our annual Best of NYC issue. — Lindsey Rhoades

Saturday 10/31
The Orwells
Music Hall of Williamsburg
8 p.m., FREE
Since Dave Letterman lost his shit over the Orwells nearly two years ago, the Chicago garage-punks have been on a roll, releasing Disgraceland in 2014 as a follow-up to two prior EPs and their debut full-length, 2012’s Remember When. Now, Converse Rubber Tracks is sponsoring an eight-date free tour beginning in Brooklyn at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. They’re the kind of band that seems to inspire reckless debauchery, making this the perfect opportunity to get a little riled up before hitting all those Halloween parties. Each tour stop features a different local band handpicked by the Orwells from the Rubber Tracks archive. In Brooklyn, that means an early set from Shark? plus the added bonus of equally rambunctious Chicago rockers Twin Peaks. — Lindsey Rhoades

Wax Idols
Saint Vitus
8 p.m., $10
After tearing up CMJ, Los Angeles postpunk project Wax Idols — fronted by the indomitable Hether Fortune (former White Lung bassist, part-time dominatrix, sometime essayist, and all-around badass) — return to Brooklyn for an All Hallows’ Eve set at Greenpoint metal bar Saint Vitus. She’s promoting her latest record, American Tragic, a searing, deeply personal collection of tracks about possession and loss. Never shy, Fortune has been up front about the emotional pain that inspired her songwriting for this record, particularly her divorce from TV Ghost frontman Tim Glick. But she’s an ace at translating her own romantic fallout into universal themes, creating a surprisingly energetic LP more focused on moving than on moping, as lead single “Lonely You” proves with its final stoic line: “Dust to dust, away with you.” — Lindsey Rhoades


Mountain Show XXVI
Mount Taurus (Cold Spring, NY)
6 a.m., FREE
For several seasons running, Dan Goldberg — who performs experimental guitar as the Spookfish — has been organizing Mountain Shows. Assembling in Cold Spring at the foot of Mount Taurus (also known as Bull Hill) early in the morning, groups of hikers, usually Brooklynites from the DIY scene like Goldberg himself, accompany four musical acts on a day-long climb, stopping at several locations for performances throughout. A write-up in the New York Times this summer drew enough attention to the free outdoor sets that RSVP by email is now mandatory and space limited, but Goldberg is nothing if not a gracious steward during the sometimes strenuous hike. Likely the last Mountain Show this season due to the impending winter weather, this edition will feature Umin playing at the summit of Bull Hill, Adelyn Rose playing in the woods during descent, Dan McHugh setting up in the ruins of a Cornish farmhouse, and Mark Denardo in the greenhouse ruins. — Lindsey Rhoades

House of Vans
7 p.m., FREE
San Francisco noise-punks Flipper were one of the most divisive bands in the city’s burgeoning Eighties hardcore scene, inspiring acts like the Melvins and Nirvana while simultaneously baffling audiences who had never seen anything quite like their sludgy deviations from the norm. Beset by tragedy — many of the founding members died from drug overdoses in the ensuing decade — Flipper lives to see another day thanks to the Jesus Lizard frontman David Yow, who’s been guesting with a slew of classic like-minded bands lately, like Shellac, Girls Against Boys, Helmet, and Chrome. Yow replaced singer Bruce Loose in August due to Loose’s ongoing back problems and will perform a free show fronting Flipper at House of Vans on Halloween with projections by Dennis McNett and stoner metal opening act Big Business. — Lindsey Rhoades

Mashrou’ Leila
Le Poisson Rouge
7 p.m., $25–$30
In Beirut, simply being in an indie rock band is a political act, and in the unrest of the Arab Spring, Mashrou’ Leila soundtracked the revolution. Led by the openly gay Hamed Sinno, the band deploys lyrics that are often sympathetic to rebellion and sometimes wholly satirical. “Lil Watan,” for instance, smartly skewers acquiescence to the Lebanese status quo, with Sinno’s direct, heartfelt vocal acting as a counterbalance to the fluid, feather-light strains of Haig Papazian’s violin. It appears on their 2014 LP Raasük (which roughly translates to “They Made You Dance”) alongside tracks written to inspire resilience in the face of oppression and others meant to normalize homosexuality in a country where it was only recently decriminalized. Their show at LPR is sold out, but it is well worth scouring secondary markets for a chance to catch this rare appearance. — Lindsey Rhoades

Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band
Kings Theatre
8 p.m., $69.50–$129.50
The legendary Beatle and his All-Starr Band wrap up a string of North American dates at Brooklyn’s Kings Theatre on Halloween. Ringo Starr, who was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a solo artist this year, is playing in support of March’s Postcards From Paradise, the singer’s eighteenth studio album. His New York stop also promotes his latest book, Photograph, and a new Mark Seliger–directed film, Photographer. The All-Starr lineup currently includes Steve Lukather, Gregg Rolie, Todd Rundgren, Richard Page, Warren Ham, and Gregg Bissonette. — Jill Menze

Sunday 11/1
Youssou N’Dour
Terminal 5
7:00 p.m., $50–$55
Senegalese superstar Youssou N’Dour was born to be a storyteller, quite literally. The griot caste forming his family tree dictated that he would be a historian, poet, or musician, but it was his modern upbringing that allowed him to fuse Francophilic soul, jazz, and rock with sabar, a traditional form of drumming and dance. These were the beginnings of mbalax, a style N’Dour pioneered during his rise to international acclaim. He’s won Grammys, been the subject of two documentaries, held political office, been praised for his activism, and collaborated with the likes of Peter Gabriel, Sting, Wyclef Jean, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Tracy Chapman, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Dido, Lou Reed, and many, many more. Singing in Wolof, Arabic, French, and English, N’Dour is a master of uniting disparate cultures with tolerance and faith. Now 56, he brings three decades’ worth of work to Terminal 5 with his longtime backing band Super Étoile. — Lindsey Rhoades