This Weekend in Madison: Freakfest, Hamel Music Center opening and early rockstar holograms

This Weekend in Madison: Freakfest, Hamel Music Center opening and early rockstar holograms
Photo courtesy of Mead Witter School of Music

The undead will appear in costume at Freakfest and as holograms on the Orpheum Theater stage this weekend. Saturday night’s Halloween costume party and music fest on State Street follows Friday’s virtual appearances of Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly in concert.

The opening weekend for the Hamel Music Center is marked by several performances by University of Wisconsin-Madison students and faculty musicians. And Wizard World once again brings comic book heroes to the Alliant Energy Center.


Freakfest, State Street
Saturday, Oct. 26, 7 p.m.-1:30 a.m.
Tens of thousands of University of Wisconsin-Madison students and others are expected to turn out for Freakfest — the annual alcohol-free, live music and Halloween costume party on State Street — this Saturday night. The big draw are three stages for live music, with a handful of acts playing each before the headliners — alt-rock band Gin Blossoms and rapper Lil Yachty.’80s vs.

’90s Halloween Costume Ball, Majestic Theatre
Saturday Oct. 26, 8 p.m.
For its 10th straight year, the Majestic Theatre is hosting its ’80s vs. ’90s Halloween Costume Ball. So, whether it’s Beetlejuice or Casper the Friendly Ghost that you relate to, dress the part and plan to dance to music from both decades.

Hamel Music Center Opening Weekend
Friday-Sunday, Oct. 25-27
The Hamel Music Center — the new 66,000-square-foot UW-Madison Mead Witter School of Music venue at the corner of Lake Street and University Avenue — opens this weekend with several performances by student and faculty musicians. After the ribbon cutting at 7 p.m. Friday night, several students will demonstrate the state-of-the-art acoustics by performing in the main concert hall. On Saturday night, current and retired faculty and student choral singers will be joined by the UW-Madison Symphony. And at 1 p.m. Sunday, a recital by eight accomplished musicians who are past recipients of fully funded music school Collins Fellowships.

Wizard World Madison, Alliant Energy Center
Friday-Sunday, Oct. 25-27
Sci-fi and superhero pop culture fans will geek out at Wizard World Madison this weekend. Now in its fifth year, the event will feature appearances by four cast members of TV’s “Smallville” (including Tom Welling who plays Clark Kent/Superman), two veterans of “Firefly” and the spinoff film “Serenity” as well as stars of “The Princess Bride” and “Gremlins.” Hobnob with comic book artists and video game makers and, of course, peruse the massive amount of merchandise available for purchase.


Black Violin, Overture Hall
Friday, Oct. 25, 8 p.m.
Combining hip-hop and classical music, Black Violin upends expectations. At its core, the group is two classically trained African American string players backed by a drummer and a DJ. Check out this unique act which has collaborated with everyone from Kanye West, Wu-Tang Clan, Aerosmith and Tom Petty.

Roy Orbison & Buddy Holly, Orpheum Theater
Friday, Oct. 25, 8 p.m.
Despite the deaths of both legendary rockers decades ago, Roy Orbison and Buddy Holly will play together again — or at least holograms of both men will appear Friday night at the Orpheum Theater. A live band and backup singers will perform with virtual stand-ins for Orbison and Holly and play their hits, such “Peggy Sue,” “That’ll Be the Day,” “Only the Lonely” and “Oh, Pretty Woman.” The children of both singers have reportedly endorsed “The Rock ‘N’ Roll Dream Tour,” so go expecting a respectful (rather than a creepy) show.

Gina Chavez, Stoughton Opera House
Saturday, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m.
Latin pop singer and activist Gina Chavez gives audiences a tour of the Americas by playing her folk, pop, bossa nova and reggaeton songs which she sings in both Spanish and English. The Austin native is known to incorporate visuals into her concerts, and has shot video in El Salvador where she has lived and worked to reduce gang violence.

Kishi Bashi, Majestic Theatre
Sunday, Oct. 27, 8 p.m.
Violinist and singer Kishi Bashi’s fourth and latest album “Omoiyari” is a rich and complex record that deals with the forced internment of Japanese Americans during World War II. The project is expected to result in a film to be released early next year. Before that happens, see the critically-acclaimed Kishi Bashi play the soundtrack live at the Majestic on Sunday night.

Joel Patenaude is associate editor of Madison Magazine.