1. Hear Pet Shop Boys
“West End Girls” on the Upper West Side.
Three decades and a dozen studio albums in, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe have crossed from “pop veterans” into “living legends.” Pet Shop Boys are, simply, the greatest electronic-dance act of all time. They’re also, by some distance, the best writers ever to sashay out of Euro clubland, with a hundred or so songs that would hold up if you took away the beats and played them on ukulele—not that you’d want to do that. —Jody Rosen
Beacon Theatre, September 16 and 17.
2. Then Hear The Pixies
Here comes your man, again.
Because the Pixies are the yang to the Pet Shop Boys’ yin: grungy and synthless, the other end of the eighties spectrum. Fortunately, these days—and it wasn’t always so—you’re allowed to appreciate both.
Bowery Ballroom, September 17, 18, and 20.
3. See Blue Caprice
The Washington snipers, fictionalized.
You can move the terrifying memory of the 2002 Beltway shooters back to the forefront of your mind via Alexandre Moors’s arty, imagistic treatment featuring Tequan Richmond as Lee Boyd Malvo and a hard but seething Isaiah Washington as his surrogate father, John Allen Muhammad. It’s the opposite of a policier: just two people whose lives are bitter and directionless—until everything snaps into focus behind a gun sight. —David Edelstein
IFC Center, opening September 13.
4. See Mr. Burns, A Post-Electric Play
Our apocalyptic summer at the movies gets a thoughtful coda onstage, as playwright Anne Washburn, composer Michael Friedman (Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson), and director Steve Cosson (The Civilians) present this futuristic comedy of human decline that’s receiving Smithersesque advance adoration. —Scott Brown
Playwrights Horizons, through October 6.
5. Laugh at An Evening With Bob and David (and Posehn)
That’d be Bob Odenkirk (the guy with the middling amount of hair), David Cross (the guy with much less), and Brian Posehn (way more).
Town Hall, September 12.
6. Read Silence: A Christian History
Shhh, we’re reading.
I picked up Diarmaid MacCulloch’s Silence chiefly because I am the kind of noise-phobe who wears earplugs in Amtrak’s Quiet Car. As it turns out, though, the book is excellent: a beautifully written, factually dense, intellectually sophisticated look at the theological uses and abuses of silence, from the spirituality of quiet to the Catholic Church’s horrifying reticence about child abuse and the Holocaust. —Kathryn Schulz
7. Hear Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band
Don’t worry don’t worry don’t worry.
The Plastics always had a flexible, changeable lineup, but of course one constant remains—Yoko herself—and lately, Sean Lennon has been joining Mom onstage.
Bowery Ballroom, September 15.
8. See Martine Fougeron: Teen Tribe
Not just kids.
A six-year project by the acclaimed photographer, documenting the adolescence of her two boys. You can practically smell the hormones.
The Gallery at Hermès, 691 Madison Ave., at 62nd St., September 20 through November 8.
9. See Lucas Michael— Polaroids
You’ll get it in 60 seconds.
Michael uses a Polaroid Big Shot—the cheapo camera that Andy Warhol favored—to make high-contrast celebrity portraits that scream 1971 yet seem totally fresh. You’ve seen some in New York’s pages; this week, they get their own show.
Danziger Gallery, September 12 through October 26.
10. See Anna Nicole
The bombshell, in song.
The real Anna Nicole Smith never saw a scene she couldn’t steal, and now, six years after her death, she vamps, shimmies, and sings her way through her very own opera. The raunchy, raucous, ultimately tragic work stars Sarah Joy Miller as the big friendly gal. —Justin Davidson
BAM, September 17 through 28.
11. Listen to Ariana Grande’s Yours Truly
The Nickelodeon star’s new album is a dead ringer for “Vision of Love”–era Mariah Carey (possibly because nineties R&B king Babyface worked on it), ranging from doo-wop-tinged ballads to belt-it-in-the-shower pop. She swoops up to the stratosphere with surprising, breathy ease.
12. Watch Sons of Anarchy
The last mile.
As Kurt Sutter’s biker drama gets into its sixth season, the show’s channeling of Hamlet and The Godfather has become apparent, with Jax Teller struggling to make his outlaw motorcycle club legit while fending off power challenges and coping with the weight of sins both committed and endured. (For more on Sutter’s influences, see page 80.) —Matt Zoller Seitz
FX, Tuesdays, 10 p.m.
13. See Sol LeWitt
Off the wall.
The walk-in, floor-to-ceiling wonder, a wraparound installation of free-floating cubic forms on open ground, was conceived for the 1988 Venice Biennale. There’s no better way to start the fall than this revolutionary sight. —Jerry Saltz
Paula Cooper Gallery, through October 10.
Classical Music & Art
14. Hear The Grand Tour
The Metropolitan Museum’s walk-and-listen.
Musicians regularly crop up in European paintings, but less often in the European Paintings galleries at the Met. This week, though, the museum hosts a pair of tours with ensembles playing period music to complement the art. —J.D.
September 17 and 18, 8 p.m.
15. See The Return of Ulysses
Sing to me, O Muses!
Opera began as a way to act out grand themes in small but elegant rooms. The tiny company Opera Omnia returns to the genre’s roots but democratizes them, staging Monteverdi’s adaptation of The Odyssey in English-language “streamlined”—i.e., abridged—form. —J.D.
Baryshnikov Arts Center, through September 12.
16. Hear Two Biographies: One Fat One Thin
Four literary minds in concert.
A pair of lively writers talk about a pair of troubled ones: D.T. Max and Blake Bailey discuss their respective books, about the beloved Infinite Jester David Foster Wallace and the nearly forgotten Lost Weekender Charles Jackson.
powerHouse Arena, September 12, 7 p.m.
17. See Dane Cook
Don’t knock him till you’ve watched.
He gets slagged off in cerebral-comedy circles, but you know what? Dane Cook is straightforwardly, uncomplicatedly funny, and delivers an incredibly tight set—which may be why he is among the most successful stand-ups alive.
Beacon Theatre, September 14, 8 p.m.
18. See The Art of the Score
Not a crime caper, despite the title.
Encounters with paparazzi notwithstanding, there’s no doubting Alec Baldwin’s seriousness when it comes to the New York Philharmonic. He’ll serve as artistic adviser to this week of film music, which starts with two all-Hitchcock programs (Herrmann’s music for Vertigo, Tiomkin’s for Dial M for Murder, more) and continues with a pair of 2001: A Space Odyssey concerts. —Rebecca Milzoff
Avery Fisher Hall, September 17, 18, 20, and 21.
19. Hear Breakfast Can Wait
It’s kinda hot in here.
The new single is not exactly a surprise: Prince, singing about postcoital lounging, sure. But that cover image, of Dave Chappelle in full-era velvet, bespeaks a sense of humor that we never expected from the tiny Minnesotan.
3rdeyegirl/Kobalt Label Services.
20. Read My Brief History
Not a black hole.
I am sorry to report that the Stephen Hawking memoir is not called A Brief History of Me. That lapse aside, fans of perhaps the world’s most famous scientist will enjoy My Brief History, his account of his life in science. And in sickness: Hawking was diagnosed with ALS at 21, and in this new book, he describes how his mortality affected his work—for the better, apparently. Technology has affected it for the better, too: His autobiography is the first book since A Brief History of Time that Hawking has been able to write on his own. —K.S.
21. See Touchy Feely
The best reason to see Lynn Shelton’s shapeless but likably offbeat comedy is Rosemarie DeWitt, one of our most exquisitely sensitive actresses. She plays a masseuse who has an existential crisis—it manifests itself as an aversion to skin—and it’s fascinating to watch her face and its micro-emotions as she moves in and out of lucidity. Some of that sensitivity rubs off on Ellen Page as her niece, who’s stuck living with her repressed dentist dad (Josh Pais). —D.E.
In theaters now.
22. Read Dissident Gardens
You can read Jonathan Lethem’s Dissident Gardens—a kind of many-boroughed novel of Queens, the Village, the American Communist Party, race, ethnicity, and mothers and sons—or you can just take the subway there: He’ll be reading at the Upper West Side Barnes & Noble on September 12. —K.S.
23. See Fall for Dance
In the dark.
For ten years, this festival has offered chances to see the best companies in town outside their expensive homes; this year, it goes one better, placing four stellar troupes—New York City Ballet, Paul Taylor Dance Company, Ronald K. Brown/Evidence, and STREB Extreme Action—onstage for evenings at the Delacorte. —R.M.
September 16 and 17, details at shakespeareinthepark.org.
24. See Why We Left Brooklyn
Frowsy, funny, quietly furious.
Matthew Freeman’s play—a dinner party from hell packed with aging, underemployed actors and artists clinging to the fringes of their ever-gentrifying borough—doesn’t stop short of caricature: It barrels right through, spilling up-sold wine and cheap irony all over the Ikea furniture. —S.B.
Fourth Street Theatre, through September 21.
25. See The Newsroom
Stop saying you hate-watch it, and admit that you’re just watching it.
The criterati still knock its condescending female characters and liberal soapboxing, but it’s strangely engrossing, and Sorkin’s time-shifted structure (built around the investigation of a Tailwind-type scandal) has made this season cohere in ways that last year’s never did. The finale is set on Election Night 2012. Who’ll win, do you wonder? —M.Z.S.
HBO, Sundays, 10 p.m.