Though the Cincinnati natives of The National didn’t form their internationally successful Indie Rock band until they’d all moved to Brooklyn, N.Y., the band’s guitarist, Bryce Dessner, keeps strong musical ties to the Queen City in the shape of his annual MusicNOW festival, a unique, collaborative and creatively curated new music event that is now in its 11th year. Blending Indie musicians with players and composers from the modern Classical and Chamber music worlds (a reflection of Dessner’s own musical experience), MusicNOW’s premieres and rare collaborations make it the definition of a “one-of-a-kind” event. You are guaranteed to see and hear many things at MusicNOW that you will never see or hear again. It’s a unique experience for the musicians, as well, with many going on to work together after their MusicNOW interactions. Read more about the festival in this week's Sound Advice. MusicNOW takes place Friday through Sunday at Music Hall and Cincinnati Masonic Center Auditorium. More info: musicnowfestival.org.
DANCE: WILD SWEET LOVE
This triple-bill collaboration between Cincinnati Ballet and BalletMet Columbus is presented in three distinct pieces: Wild Sweet Love, Who Cares? and Age of Innocence. The night begins with the namesake Wild Sweet Love, an exploration of love’s ups and downs with contemporary music from artists as varied as Roberta Flack and Queen. George Balanchine’s Who Cares? follows — a full corps de ballet encompassing the spirit of Broadway with familiar songs like “The Man I Love” and “I Got Rhythm.” BalletMet Columbus rounds out the night with Age of Innocence, a modern piece inspired by Jane Austen and named for an Edith Wharton novel. Read more about the performance here. This weekend also offers Ballet Toybox at the Aronoff, an interactive storybook ballet aimed at children ages 3-12 (2 p.m. Sunday; $20). 8 p.m. Friday; 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday. $32-$105. Aronoff Center, 650 Walnut St., Downtown, 513-621-5282, cballet.org.
ART: CARNAL WORSHIP AT GLACIER GALLERY
Glacier Gallery, a new contemporary art space in the front half of the former semantics gallery in Brighton, will showcase the work of illustrators Gabby Gash and Robert Inman in an exhibition entitled Carnal Worship. According to the gallery’s press release, the show focuses on an excessive fascination with the erotic. Prints of Gash’s and Inman’s individual works will be on view and the opening coincides with the release of Realicide Youth Record’s newest art zine, which will be available for sale onsite. Opening reception 6-10 p.m. Friday. On view through April 1. Free. Glacier Gallery, 1107 Harrison Ave., Brighton, facebook.com/glaciergallery.
MUSIC: TITUS ANDRONICUS
Grandiose ambitions are nothing new to Titus Andronicus frontman Patrick Stickles. The name of his band is lifted from Shakespeare. The group’s second album, The Monitor, was a sprawling concept album based on the American Civil War. And, among many other pressing themes and preoccupations, the dangers of contemporary capitalism remain a constant topic of conversation. But Stickles and his merry band of pranksters might have topped themselves with their fourth long-player, The Most Lamentable Tragedy, a five-act, 29-song, 93-minute “Rock opera” that the lanky, copiously bearded frontman has described as a “complicated metaphor about manic depression, melding elements of philosophy, psychology and science fiction through the plight of one troubled protagonist’s inner demons.” Read an interview with Stickles here. Titus Andronicus plays Friday in Taft Theatre’s Ballroom. Tickets/more info: tafttheatre.org.
MUSIC: THEY MIGHT BE GIANTS
Back in the golden year of 1987, I discovered the aural and visual joys of They Might Be Giants almost simultaneously. John James, my boss/friend at Cincinnati’s Wizard Records, had recommended They Might Be Giants’ 1986 debut album, and within weeks of that initial headsmack, I experienced their nonsensically surreal homemade video for “(Put Your Hand Inside) The Puppet Head,” shown when the band was a guest on the nonsensically surreal late-night gabfest, The Joe Franklin Show. Franklin was a charming but gauzily clueless vaudevillian who hosted his cable program seemingly in his basement; throughout the segment he never got the band’s name right, vacillating between They May Be Giants to They Must Be Giants. John Flansburgh and John Linnell were beyond giddy for the entire segment. Read more about the group in this week's Sound Advice. They Might Be Giants plays Madison Theater Friday. More info/tickets: madisontheateronline.com.
Chewie, set the hyperdrive for the Clarion Hotel: Millennicon, the literary-based sci-fi convention, returns for its 30th year. Explore the future of the unknown with a weekend full of programming. Events include panels on topics ranging from Doctor Who to authentic Victorian underpinnings, readings from sci-fi authors, group gaming sessions, anime screenings, talent shows, a masquerade ball, dealer rooms, door prizes and much more. Fandoms, food, fantasy, filking and more will be covered. This event is the primary fundraiser for the Miami Valley Fandom for Literacy. 4 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday; 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. $45. Clarion Hotel, 3855 Hauck Road, Sharonville, millennicon.org.
ONSTAGE: THE BEAUTY QUEEN OF LEENANE
You think you have problems with your mother? You should compare notes with Maureen Folan about her maternal relations. In Irish writer Martin McDonagh’s 1996 play, it’s more like outright warfare between Maureen and Mag. It’s been said that mutual loathing might be more durable than love, but this is one painful household in rural Ireland, as they argue and torture one another. Dark Irish humor permeates McDonagh’s writing, and it requires a certain temerity to appreciate it. In the close confines of Falcon Theatre’s Newport space, this will be a powerful experience. Staged by veteran local director Ed Cohen. Through April 2. $15-$20. Falcon Theatre, 636 Monmouth St., Newport, Ky., 513-479-6783, falcontheatre.net.
Admit it: You sing along to Rihanna’s “Work” in the car and are only slightly annoyed when it’s stuck in your head. Stop pretending and let loose this Saturday when her Anti World Tour stops by U.S. Bank Arena. Anti, Rihanna’s eighth studio album, is the first to be released since 2012’s Unapologetic; it rocketed to the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200 chart just a week after its release. Now is your chance to work (work work work work work) it with Rihanna herself (sans Drake). Hip Hop/Rap artist Travis Scott opens. 7:30 p.m. show; 6 p.m. doors Saturday. $30.50-$126. U.S. Bank Arena, 100 Broadway St., Downtown, 513-421-4111, usbankarena.com.
EVENT: DAY OF HAPPINESS
Mayor John Cranley has officially declared March 19 Cincinnati’s Day of Happiness, falling just a day before the international campaign, which has been recognized since 2013. Celebrate on Fountain Square with a slew of activities dedicated to inspiring people and raising awareness on how to make the world a happier place. Watch the square come alive with laughter yoga, kids art stations and a crowd-wide “happy dance.” Post your #HappyActs on the social media Happiness Wall. 11a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday. Fountain Square, Fifth and Vine streets, Downtown, myfountainsquare.com.
MUSIC: ELEPHANT STONE
Many of today’s Psych Rock bands have a sound that can be traced back to a certain period in music history. For Canada’s Elephant Stone, that moment is when George Harrison first put a sitar on a Beatles track. While the group continues to experiment with elements of Indian music (beyond the sitar, the band has used tabla and the esraj on its releases) within its engaging Pop Rock style, recent song previews from Elephant Stone’s forthcoming album show the band expanding its approach; superb singles like “The Devil’s Shelter,” “Where I’m Going” and “Andromeda” are reminiscent of British Shoegaze and Psychedelia artists of the ’80s and ’90s like Primal Scream and another “Stone” band — Stone Roses. The band’s Cincinnati show — coming just after a visit to Texas’ South By Southwest festival — also features Columbus, Ohio’s Indigo Wild. 10 p.m. Saturday. Free. MOTR Pub, 1345 Main St., Over-the-Rhine, motrpub.com.
COMEDY: JOHN HEFFRON
On stage, comedian John Heffron likes to talk about what’s going on in his life, particularly his marriage. He’s conscious of his audience, though, and realizes some of the 20-somethings might not be able to relate to marriage jokes — but he’s certainly not shy about offering advice when it comes to relationships. “I joke about marriage because it’d be really boring on stage if I went on and said ‘I love marriage. My marriage is awesome,’ ” he says. His wife, meanwhile, takes it all in stride. “She really can’t complain. She has a house and car.” Her only occasional criticisms are of his actual performances. “She’ll bust me if she thinks I’m phoning it in.” Showtimes Thursday-Sunday. $15-$48. Funny Bone Liberty, 7518 Bales St., A-120, Liberty Township, 513-779-5233. liberty.funnybone.com.
ART: KING ME AT THE GLOBE GALLERY
Nina Wells, who goes by the artistic name Nina M Dot, opens her photographic exhibition at the Globe Gallery on Friday evening featuring lenticular portraits of local men of color contrasted with images of themselves dressed as kings. Wells aims to restore the perception of these men’s self-value by applying a what-you-see-is-what-you-become mindset. “It is a platform for men of color to better understand their value in this world,” she says in a press release. A recipient of People’s Liberty’s $15,000 Globe grant, the artist’s message of black male empowerment will be accessible to small group audiences on opening night in 20-minute increments to allow for a more intimate viewing experience. On view through May 7. Free. 1805 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, peoplesliberty.org, reserve viewing space at tinyurl.com/jc85f4m.
EVENT: ART ON VINE
Get your monthly shopping fix by browsing works by local artists and craftspeople at Art on Vine. This boutique art fair showcases fine art, handmade goods and photography from more than 60 local makers. If you’d like to keep it local after shopping, bring proof of your Art on Vine purchase to A Tavola and receive 10 percent off your total bill. 1-7 p.m. Sunday. Free. Rhinegeist Brewery, 1910 Elm St., Over-the-Rhine, artonvinecincy.com.
Pretty much all you need to do to sell theater tickets these days is attach Jane Austen’s name to a show. No zombies in Emma à la the current film adaptation Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but Cincinnati Shakespeare is on the bandwagon with another stage adaptation by Jon Jory, the longtime leader of Actors Theatre of Louisville; his renditions of Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility have been bestsellers for the classic theater company. This production is all about girls — directed by 12-year ensemble member Kelly Mengelkoch and featuring second-year ensemble member Courtney Lucien as Emma Wodehouse, the amateur matchmaker whose efforts don’t unfold quite as planned. Through March 26. $14-$36. Cincinnati Shakespeare Company, 719 Race St., Downtown, 513-381-2273, cincyshakes.com.
ONSTAGE: TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
Harper Lee passed away last month, but her Pulitzer Prize-winning story of justice and racial inequality lives on, not only as a novel and its memorable cinematic rendition, but also in Christopher Sergel’s theatrical adaptation. Eric Ting, a new associate artist at the Cincinnati Playhouse, has given a more timeless rendition to the story of a valiant attorney with moral integrity defending a wrongly accused black man, bringing it to life in a bare theater. His approach sounds fascinating. Stage veteran Dale Hodges narrates the story in the role of the adult Scout, and the cast features numerous other local performers. Through April 10. $35-$85. Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, 962 Mount Adams Circle, Mount Adams, 513-421-3888, cincyplay.com.
ART: DAUBIGNY, MONET, VAN GOGH: IMPRESSIONS OF LANDSCAPE
The Taft Museum of Art’s chief curator, Lynne Ambrosini, has spent 14 years organizing the Daubigny, Monet, Van Gogh: Impressions of Landscape show that opens Saturday and believes it will be one of the museum’s most important presentations. Inspired by the fact that the Taft owns three Charles-François Daubigny oil paintings, Ambrosini’s exhibition aims to prove that this 19th-century French landscape painter served as a major, unheralded harbinger of Impressionism. The exhibition, for which you must buy a timed ticket, has 40 Daubigny paintings and also 15 Impressionist and Post-Impressionist ones by Claude Monet, Vincent van Gogh and Camille Pissarro. Through May 29. $15 adult; $10 child. 316 Pike St., Downtown, taftmuseum.org.
TV: THE PASSION
A live musical depiction of Jesus’ final moments, featuring Tyler Perry, Chris Daughtry, Trisha Yearwood and Seal. Sure! 8 p.m. FOX.
TV: THE WALKING DEAD
Daryl reunites with his bike while Eugene parts ways with his signature mullet. 9 p.m. AMC.
Hannah and her mom attend a “Spring Queening” women’s retreat; Shosh gets a surprise in Japan; Adam (and the audience!) meets Jessa’s sister. 10 p.m. HBO.