1. Hear Vampire Weekend
At Roseland Ballroom.
Are these guys real rockers or twee assemblers of Ivy League kiddie albums? Or (and this is our suspicion) are they both of these things, perfectly suited to the millennial generation? Listen and decide; the new album arrives May 14.
2. See Claes Oldenburg: The Street and the Store
Nothing squishy about it.
Every single object in this show by the Pop master produces a rush of joy. Handcrafted, distorted shapes of hot potatoes, hats, dresses, pie, and ray guns, all looking like colorful lumpy funky dinosaurs, split the difference between abstraction, Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, American exuberance, and brute materialism. Go. Fly to the Planet Joy. —Jerry Saltz
Museum of Modern Art, through August 5.
3. Watch Red, White and New
It’s got the goods.
This new series celebrates innovative and just plain cool stuff created in the U.S.A., including an ultrapowerful Pogo stick, a shark-shaped sea vehicle that can leap out of the water, and a superstrong robotic exoskeleton that looks to be the first stage in life’s inevitable transformation into a summer blockbuster. Your guide is Steve Watson, host of Discovery’s Monster House and HGTV’s Don’t Sweat It. —Matt Zoller Seitz
Travel Channel, April 29, 10 p.m.
4. See Showgirls! The Musical!
“You guys just sit over there and I’ll change the music.”
Even if you have only a casual love for the mess that is Showgirls, you may enjoy seeing what the lyricists do with lines like “It’s amazing what paint and a surgeon can do.”
Kraine Theater, 84 E. 4th St., through May 4.
5. See Da Vinci’s Demons
Yeah, it’s ridiculous. And yet.
Da Vinci’s Demons is the funniest unintentional comedy of the year. This goofball historical fantasy imagines Leonardo (Tom Riley) as a cocky comic-book hero making war weapons for the Medicis while creating fabulous inventions, shtupping Lorenzo de’ Medici’s mistress (Laura Haddock), yammering about the power of imagination, and flashing back to childhood trauma while conferring with a mysterious man from Constantinople. Really better to make fun of than to watch, though. —M.Z.S.
Starz, Fridays, 9 p.m.
6. Listen to Iggy and the Stooges’ Ready to Die
A new old partnership.
Former Stooge-mates Iggy Pop and James Williamson started reconnecting about four years ago and writing songs together again in 2011. The result is, amazingly, not geriatric: They still play fast, loud, aggressive punk, and their live gig was the surprise hit of SXSW last month.
Fat Possum Records.
7. Laugh at Sarah Silverman
Jewish girl goes to the suburbs …
Every comedy nerd’s dream girl, live onstage! Yes, you’ll have to haul out to Montclair to see her, but that’s about the easiest trip imaginable, and the theater’s a six-block walk from the train.
Wellmont Theatre, Montclair, N.J., April 26.
8. Hear Stravinsky: The Complete Sacred Works
At Trinity Church.
Igor Stravinsky composed sere religious works that still seem hard to reconcile with his early pagan romps. The fine forces of Trinity Wall Street will devote three concerts to this fantastically varied repertoire, from the delicately wrought Mass to the craggy Abraham and Isaac, sung in Hebrew, and the hypercompressed Requiem Canticles. —Justin Davidson
April 26 through 28.
9. Read Building Seagram
By the woman who got it done.
Samuel Bronfman, owner of the House of Seagram, had plenty of money but mundane taste. But he also had a sharp-eyed, persuasive daughter, one who browbeat him into hiring Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson and building the most elegant skyscraper ever. Phyllis Lambert, now 86, has a fantastic head for the details of the Seagram Building, and her book is partly a how-we-did-it revelation, and partly a biography of a steel-and-glass auxiliary member of her family.
Yale University Press.
10. See The Voice
This is where it starts to get good.
If you’re going to join the party, now’s the time: We’re into the battle rounds where the talent gets winnowed, the live shows start on May 13, and the season finale airs on June 18.
NBC, Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 p.m.
11. See Wanda’s Monster
Laurie Berkner writes a musical!
Berkner—one of the big stars of the so-called kindie-rock movement—has, with Barbara Zinn Krieger, built a musical around her song “Monster Boogie.” You may not be excited by this news, but if there’s a 4-year-old in your life, trust us: He or she will be.
Theater 3, 311 W. 43rd St., through May 12.
12. Hear Jennifer Egan, Rick Moody, and Sheri Holman
At a benefit for the Urban Assembly School for Law and Justice.
Three best-selling authors read and sign books to support an experimental Brooklyn high school, a sort of inverse Stuyvesant that digs struggling kids out of their underperforming neighborhoods and gives them a boost.
At Littlefield, 622 Degraw St., Gowanus, April 24, 6 p.m.; details at littlefieldnyc.com.
13. See Meditation, Creativity, Peace
Serenity? From David Lynch? Yes.
David Lynch’s genius relies on two things: a brilliantly twisted mind that perceives the death (decay, bloodlust) in all life, and the ability to render and transmit his grisly perceptions with an unearthly calm. It’s the second thing that brings us to Lynch the Transcendental Meditation proselytizer and subject of the documentary Meditation, Creativity, Peace. Yes, that really is the title, and this Thursday, you can see Lynch dispense the sweet nectar of life onscreen for free (plus doughnuts and coffee for attendees). —David Edelstein
Maysles Cinema, April 25, 7:30 p.m.
14. See The Central Park Five
Ken and Sarah Burns and David McMahon’s documentary about the “jogger case” is really tough on New York’s legal system—and it should be, given that it jailed five kids wrongly and brought an already tense city to a near frenzy. The film also got a limited release, which means you probably missed it. Rectify that now.
Standard DVD, $16.99; Blu-ray, $19.99.
15. See The Assembled Parties
Richard Greenberg’s return to Broadway.
A heartbreaking play that looks at the traditional family comedy and says, “Yes—but what else is going on here?” And, amazingly, the sadness of the “what else” just makes the comedy funnier. —Jesse Green
Samuel J. Friedman Theatre.
16. See Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny
A rare Weill-Brecht work returns.
The best thing about high-level student opera—apart from cheap tickets and ample rehearsal time—is the chance to hear works long absent from pro stages. The Manhattan School of Music gives just three performances of Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s biting and bitterly irresistible opera, whose title translates to “Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.” —J.D.
Borden Auditorium, 120 Claremont Ave., April 24, 26, and 28.
17. Watch The Americans
Before the agents go silent for a few months.
New York’s Matt Zoller Seitz recently declared this Cold War spying series with Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell the best drama to debut this year. The season finale airs this week; you’ll then get a few months to catch up with the early episodes you probably skipped, while we all wait for season two (probably coming in January).
Season finale, May 1.
18. See Engines of War
Shock and awe on view.
Patriotic Americans scream for war at a 2003 rally; dead Iraqis lie sprawled in Baghdad; maimed U.S. soldiers return home. Seen at the tenth anniversary of the Iraq War’s first shots, almost every image in this group photography show makes us know in our bones that war is hell, that war unprepared for is worse, and that even today there’s no way to get distance on this event. —J.S.
At Klemens Gasser & Tanja Grunert, 524 W. 19th St., through May 4.
19. Watch Storage Wars
A&E’s biggest hit is back, after a cast change.
Somehow, this series about people who grub out a living by digging through abandoned storage units bought at auction is more than watchable. (Maybe we all take creepy pleasure in rummaging through other people’s stuff.) Season four has just begun sans Dave Hester, the show’s asshole among assholes, who was fired at the end of last year. That leaves us perpetually squabbling couple Jarrod and Brandi, dumb-as-rocks Darrell, and wealthy retiree (and Angeleno kook) Barry.
Tuesdays, 9 p.m.
20. See Manhunt
The truth about searching for OBL.
You could describe Manhunt, about the decadelong hunt for Osama bin Laden, as a nonfiction companion to Zero Dark Thirty. But as is so often the case, the real story is messier and more disturbing than Hollywood fiction. Greg Barker digs deep into the Bush administration’s use of torture and its usefulness; the film also profiles the real CIA analysts who informed the composite character played by Jessica Chastain in ZDT. —M.Z.S.
HBO, May 1, 8 p.m.
21. Hear Sam Waterston, James Shapiro, and Téa Obreht on Shakespeare
The Public Forum’s latest onstage chat.
That time of year thou mayst in me behold / when I hang out at Joe’s Pub discussing sonnets with Shakespeare scholar James Shapiro, actor Sam Waterson, author Téa Obreht, and a rad underage writer from the Bronx DreamYard program. See you there. —Kathryn Schulz
April 26, 7 p.m.
22. Attend The PEN World Voices Festival
Devoted to brave writers in tough places.
If you prefer to celebrate living writers, you could opt for the Pen World Voices Festival—all 70-plus events of it. The fest celebrates the courage of authors writing from places like Palestinian territories, Myanmar, and Guantánamo, and the voices in question include Judith Butler, Aleksandar Hemon, Jamaica Kincaid, Sapphire, and many, many more. —K.S.
April 29 through May 5, schedule at pen.org.
23.–25. Read The Black Count (Plus Two Others)
There goes your summer.
You know (I presume) of Alexandre Dumas. But perhaps you don’t know (I didn’t) of General Alex Dumas—the novelist’s Haitian father, the real-life figure behind The Count of Monte Cristo, and the subject of Tom Reiss’s The Black Count, which just won the Pulitzer Prize for biography. By my count (so to speak), that gives you at least three books to read: The Black Count, The Count of Monte Cristo, and, if you want, Tom Reiss’s earlier work, The Orientalist, another wonderful tale of literary sleuthing. —K.S.