1) We’ve always felt bad that MC Hammer was hip-hop’s sacrificial lamb. He brought rap into the mainstream, and then it became cool for the G’s who rode to platinum status on the path he forged to diss him. We’re glad he’s proven himself to be too legit to quit. He’s still touring, playing gigs like 96.1 Kiss FM’s Halloween Party, which is being held at Stage AE tonight. Hammer first gained a reputation as a powerhouse performer who executed the flashiest dance moves that ’90s MTV viewers had ever seen. He’s found a way to “right” his status by taking to the stage again. Doors open at 7 p.m. 400 North Shore Dr., North Shore.
2) Speaking of ghosts of music past, people are still apparently playing ska! Folks of a certain age might consider the peppy, horn-driven genre totally ’80s, due to their memories of The English Beat, The Specials, and Madness. Those of a certain other age might consider it hopelessly ’90s, if they skateboarded to “revival” acts like Reel Big Fish, Less Than Jake, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Both are wrong. Ska is timeless, as will be demonstrated at Club Café today for the first day of the Pittsburgh Ska Fest. Old-timers Mustard Plug will be playing with local newbies Masters of the Universe for a multi-generational rude-boy get-down. The fest continues on Thursday with a show headlined by the legendary Toasters. 9 p.m. 56-58 South 12th St., South Side.
3) The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra has always made an impressive outreach to the munchkins who might be among the next generation of classical musicians, with all-ages events often heralded by the symphony’s cat mascot, Fiddlesticks. Today, Heinz Hall hosts such an event, the PSO’s Halloween Spooktacular. Conductor Lawrence Loh will lead the orchestra in selections from the scores of such mildly scary movies as The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, the Pirates of the Caribbean, and Harry Potter films. Costumes welcome! 11:15 a.m. 600 Penn Ave., Cultural District.
4) Jergel’s is not only offering $1,000 for the best costume at its Halloween Party tonight; the Warrendale watering hole is also putting on a show by Totally 80s, the cover band that dresses all year round in pastels and popped collar shirts to play not a smirky set of throwaway pop songs from the Reagan years but actual classics from the likes of Prince, Michael Jackson, and The Police. They also sometimes do “Never Gonna Give You Up.” 8 p.m. 103 Slade Ln., Warrendale.
5) Fighting and Jameson go hand in hand. Just ask any Irish soccer hooligan. So naturally there’s a band called the Fighting Jamesons. The five-piece Virginia Beach group puts a punk-rock spin on traditional Celtic folk music. They are at the Thunderbird Café tonight. Get wild on shots, but no punching! 9 p.m. 4023 Butler St. Lawrenceville.