From onscreen acapella to formerly obscure indie rock, musical performances dominate this week’s list of things to do. However, if you’d prefer silence to soaring melodies, don’t think we forgot you: a child-friendly art exhibit on the Upper West Side provides plenty of peace and quiet. Enjoy, and as always, check Groupon for more great things to do in New York City.
Coney Island Sand-Sculpting Contest
Coney Island | Saturday, August 16
Soaring castles and elaborate statues rise along the Coney Island shoreline during the annual sand-sculpting contest, a decades-old tradition that gives out awards for both adult and child artists. The sculptors must finish by 3 p.m., when judging begins; stop by earlier to see their works in progress or enjoy live music and activities. Event organizers are also soliciting donations to help Brooklyn families still rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy. (on the Boardwalk near Wonder Wheel Park; judging begins at 3 p.m., award ceremony at 4:30 p.m.; free)
South Street Seaport | Saturday, August 16
Whether you think acapella is aca-awesome or aca-awkward, musical comedy Pitch Perfect (2012) is just subtle enough to extract laughs. Anna Kendrick stars as Beca, a hip college freshman who gets roped into singing with a totally un-hip all-female acapella group, the Bellas. Beca’s initially hostile attitude toward the music slowly melts as she makes friends with the members of the group, played by an ensemble cast that includes Rebel Wilson as brash “Fat Amy” and Hana Mae Lee as the world’s creepiest soft-talker. Sea breezes carry the Bellas' tight harmonies (and Kendrick's surprisingly skillful rapping) to audiences' ears at this outdoor screening, part of South Street Seaport's Front/Row Cinema series. (Front St. & Fulton St.; 8 p.m.; free)
Midtown | Wednesday, August 20, and Thursday, August 21
Courtney Act is a drag overachiever. Named one of FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women—despite not being a woman—she has also won Australian Idol and competed on Season 6 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Her show Boys Like Me intersperses dance-ready pop songs with stories about her adventurous love life. This is your last chance to see her at Laurie Beechman Theatre before she leaves on her international tour. (407 W. 42nd St.; 9:30 p.m.; $22 w/$15 food & drink minimum, or $40 VIP ticket with meet & greet; buy tickets here)
Park Slope | Friday, August 22, to Sunday, August 24
When orchestral indie rockers Arcade Fire won a Best Album Grammy in 2011, confusion reigned among the viewing audience. The funniest gaffes were recorded for posterity on the Tumblr “Who Is Arcade Fire?”—a question that still seemed apt back then. In 2014, it’s a little harder not to know the band’s name. With a #1 best-selling album in 2013—the James Murphy–co-produced Reflektor—Arcade Fire proved they could top charts and fill stadiums with their epic, dance-inflected sound. Electronica impresario Dan Deacon and the recently reunited Unicorns open for them on their three nights at Barclays Center. (620 Atlantic Ave., Brooklyn; 7:30 p.m.; $35–$85; buy tickets here)
“Madeline in New York: The Art of Ludwig Bemelmans”
Upper West Side | Through October 19
The New York Historical Society celebrates the 75th anniversary of the iconic little French schoolgirl with this exhibit of 90 original works by her creator, illustrator Ludwig Bemelmans. Visitors can admire drawings from all six Madeline books as well as panels from the mural Bemelmans painted in the playroom of Aristotle Onassis’s yacht. Stop in at 11 a.m. or 2 p.m. Tuesday–Friday for a live reading from one of the Madeline books. (170 Central Park West; free with $6–$19 museum admission)
Photo of Coney Island Sand Sculpting Contest courtesy of Astella Development Corporation.