There’s a lot going on at Chocolate and Art Thursday and Friday at Lofty Spaces, 816 Montgomery St. The name may suggest that only two things are to be enjoyed, but it will also have music, dancing and philanthropy. Chocolate and Art started as an underground event series in Los Angeles and has spread to other cities with the goal of helping artists establish themselves in their communities and help Artists for Trauma (a nonprofit that focuses on expression as a means of recovery). In addition to a gallery-style exhibition, there will be live body painting and art demos, various vendors and drinks. Add to that delicious artisan chocolates (as well as fondue) and live music, which both absolutely fall under the umbrella of art, and that’s two nights of great taste and good opportunities. Each night lasts from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. with tickets available for $15 until four hours before each event, or $20 at the door. Purchase at Eventbrite.com and check out more about the show at chocolateandartshow.com. Merritt Martin
Trying to be an anime fan from scratch at this stage of the game is like trying to understand War and Peace by starting the middle of the book. It’s not impossible to do but it will involve a lot of long nights of exploring, learning and stress headaches. The list of canon characters for a series like One Piece stretches into the hundreds. Don’t fret. There is a way to learn all about this storied medium of animation, and it also happens to be one hell of a fan party. The annual Anime Fest runs Aug. 17-20 at the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, 400 N. Olive St. This fan-driven get-together attracts crowds that can reach into the thousands and offers a bunch of things to do for the novice anime fan or the expert who knows the difference between Hellsing and Hellsing Ultimate. The con includes costume contests, Q&As and panels with notable anime creators and performers, dance parties and live concerts. Early bird membership passes for all four days are $70. Single day tickets are $35 for Friday, $45 for Saturday, $40 for Sunday and $30 for Monday. Visit animefest.org to purchase tickets or for more information about the fest. Danny Gallagher
Highland Village Lions Club's 31st annual Balloon Festival and Fair lifts off Friday-Sunday at Unity Park, 2200 Briarhill Blvd., in the Denton County city perched on the south side of the far western branch of Lewisville Lake. Cost of a balloon ride (weather permitting) is $20 for adults; $15 for children 12 and under. Besides a classic car show from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday (info at 469-471-8669), there will be bounce houses, a petting zoo, Boogie-Woogie Choo-Choo, a Scout climbing wall plus hourly prizes. And to be sure you're not overlooking an event, there are free eye tests at Vision RV from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday and noon to 7 p.m. Saturday. Questions? Contact chairpersons Harry Dinsmore, firstname.lastname@example.org, or Emily Rohne, email@example.com. Reba Liner
Ice Cube doesn’t have to call up the homies to query, “Which park, are y’all playin’ basketball?” anymore. As founder of a new 3-on-3 league featuring former college and NBA stars like Charles Oakley, Mike Bibby, Amar’e Stoudemire and Stephen Jackson, he doesn’t have to ask. Get him on the court, though, and he probably wouldn’t be trouble — no way is he screwing around and getting a triple-double. The league may seem like a novelty act, a bunch of old dudes, but the players aren’t that far removed from their NBA days and can still produce highlight-reel blocks and shots — including four-pointers. Since there’s otherwise not much chance of watching professional basketball playoffs anytime soon at the American Airlines Center, check out the BIG3 Playoffs (schedule undecided as of press time) at 6 p.m. Friday at the AAC, 2500 Victory Ave. Tickets start at $15. Visit big3.com. Jesse Hughey
Lucero is a band that has spent their career on tour, so it’s no surprise that lead vocalist/guitarist Ben Nichols’ annual respite from Lucero life is … touring. But it’s a stripped down, simplified and zen version of touring: just a man, his motorcycle and his guitar, plus his riding buddy (that’d be Oliver Peck, Ink Master judge and co-owner of Elm Street Tattoo). These days, the Bikeriders Tour has become something of a yearly tradition, with Nichols and Peck taking to the open road each summer to wind through sections of the U.S. for a series of acoustic sets. This year’s Western Tours rolls into Three Links, 2704 Elm St., at 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 18. Tickets to the all-ages set are $20 at threelinksdeepellum.com. Jennifer Davis-Lamm
When most people think of pets, they think of the cuddly, furry friends that purr or bark. Maybe even some that run on a wheel in a tiny Plexiglas house. But there’s a whole other world of animals with which to interact, and Repticon is coming Saturday and Sunday to the Grapevine Convention Center, 1209 S. Main St., to spread the word. The reptile and exotic animal expo offers a wide range of vendors and educators who present alongside breeders for an event that celebrates family pets ranging from reptiles to amphibians to spiders and more. The inquisitive can have the opportunity to interact with these gorgeous creatures, while the die-hard repti-fans can shop for their friends at home. Snakes and scorpions on the brain? Don’t miss the ball pythons from B.R.A.C.E. Exotics and the Arachnids! Live show from The Exotic Kingdom. Need something a bit tamer? Geckos take the stage starting at 11 a.m. both days. The expo is open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 each day ($5 for kids 5-12), or $15 for both days ($5 for kids). Visit repticon.com/texas/dallas. Merritt Martin
The Assassination Roller Derby Championships are finally upon us. Signifying the close of the Assassination Derby season, the league’s final bout is a reminder of the organization's core values, namely charity, camaraderie, community and fair play. There will be skating, crashing, drinking, cheering and a hell of a lot of fun. The championships start at 7 p.m. Friday, Aug 18 at Thunderbird Roller Rink, 3200 Thunderbird Lane, Plano. Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 the day of the event, and free for kids under 10. Bring your own alcohol and chairs because neither are provided at this location. For tickets and more info, visit www.acderby.com. Jonathan Patrick
Few comedians know how to turn heads with their comedy as quick as Kathy Griffin, whether she’s telling a story about her most recent brush with celebrity or holding a fake severed head of the president for the cameras. She’s provocative, unapologetic, unflinching and, most important, funny. The only way you couldn’t find her at least mildly amusing is to take yourself and your politics way too seriously. She’s also done a lot of work to get to such a provocative and notable place in her career. She started pursuing comedy in California as a stand-up and a performer with The Groundlings and kicked off her acting career with a bit role as a witness to Ving Rhames’ car accident in Pulp Fiction. She started earning her star status as the annoying Sally Weaver on Seinfeld and alongside Brooke Shields on the NBC sitcom Suddenly Susan before discovering that making fun of her falling star status in reality shows on the Bravo network could make her an even bigger star. You can catch her live on her “Laugh Your Head Off” tour at 8 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18 at the Winspear Opera House, 2403 Flora St. Remaining tickets are between $45.50 and $125. Visit tickets.attpac.org to purchase seats for the show. Danny Gallagher
In effect, there are two sides to North Carolina rapper J. Cole, whose album KOD is one of the most divisive hip-hop records of the year. Like many MCs, J. Cole is at his best when he comes across messy, broken and emotionally distraught; this is when he’s at his rawest, at his most genuine. But for a rapper best known for his focus on social and cultural issues — so called “conscious” raps — the MC is, surprisingly, at his weakest when engaging in lyrical grandstanding, often scanning as preachy instead of enlightening. But when J. Cole’s on, he’s on, capable of standing toe to toe with the most technically gifted rappers in the game, moving through beats with a smooth efficiency most MCs spend a lifetime reaching for. Special touring guest Young Thug — an artist as unapologetically non-conscious as they come — is easily one the game’s most unusual and thrilling talents. His warbled, serpentine delivery transforms hip-hop into an abstract stream of infectious melodies and scat-singing exhibitions. You’d be hard-pressed to find two rappers as different as J. Cole and Young Thug. And for this reason alone, you’d be hard-pressed to find a concert as promising as this one right here. With Young Thug and Jaden Smith, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18 at American Airlines Center, 2500 Victory Ave., tickets start at $49 at ticketmaster.com Jonathan Patrick
Only a handful of rappers can claim to have a better resume than O’Shea Jackson. A founding member of N.W.A., Ice Cube is a rap pioneer and for more than one reason. A lengthy list of TV and film credits made him a household name and at one point threatened to overtake Cube’s music career. He’s even dipped his toes into the world of sports, organizing his own three-on-three basketball league Big3, which is also making its way to Dallas this week. However, with a 10th studio album (Everythang’s Corrupt) in the works, as well as the increased attention brought on by the N.W.A. bio-drama Straight Outta Compton, it seems Cube is primed for a comeback. Texas rapper, Bun B, will open the show and is also in the midst of a career resurgence, having just announced an end-of-August release date for Return of the Trill, the first new album from B since 2013. With Bun B, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18 at The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory, 300 West Las Colinas Blvd., Irving, $25 and up at livenation.com Nicholas Bostick
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Best Sunday bargain: Big at 3 p.m. The American fantasy comedy film winds up the Class of '88 Film Series at the Texas Theatre, 231 W. Jefferson Blvd., presented in association with the Oak Cliff Cultural Center. Plunk down your money for a ticket (starting at $1) and enjoy the film starring Tom Hanks, cast as a 12-year-old, once again tapping out "Heart and Soul" on a foot-operated electronic keyboard in a Manhattan toy store after his wish on a carnival machine to be "big" has been granted and he reaches adulthood overnight. Of course, adulthood problems ensue, including romance. Follow his journey to reverse his wish on that magic machine. The film grossed over $150 million 30 years ago and holds up as well as Hanks has. Reba Liner
Jeff Buckley, best known for his defining cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah,” had a voice and a stage presence that could enrapture crowds so fully that fans were almost evangelical about spreading the word about the singer. After his strange and unexpected 1997 drowning death at age 30, the legend around him grew so big that it’s hard to believe he only released one complete album, Grace, in his lifetime. More than 20 years later, his manager, Dave Lory, has written a book about his late client, Jeff Buckley: From Hallelujah to the Last Goodbye. He will sign copies and answer questions at 4 p.m. Sunday at Good Records, 1808 Greenville Ave. The book is listed at $27, but admission is free. Jesse Hughey
Back in the early to mid 1980s, Welsh rock band The Alarm were traveling parallel lines to such Top 40 staples as U2 and Simple Minds. They toured with those acts, hit the charts themselves with songs like "Sold Me Down The River" and made headlining appearances at all the big benefit shindigs of the time. Though worldwide fame eluded them, longevity hasn't. The band has continued to perform and record, largely on the back of lead singer Mike Peters. After multiple cancer scares and more recently a leukemia diagnosis, in addition to the cancer that also unfortunately plagued his wife Jules, the fact that he's touring at all is a testament to his true rock n' roll spirit and fearless tenacity. 7:30p.m. Sunday, Aug. 19 at Gas Monkey Bar N’ Grill, 10110 Technology Blvd, E., $15 and up at ticketfly.com Jeff Strowe