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The Weekend in WNY: Embrace pop queens past and present

One is the hottest female pop star of the moment, while the other is a three-decade veteran of the spotlight.

Ariana Grande and Mariah Carey, two female pop icons, both come to Buffalo this weekend for shows in KeyBank Center and Shea's Buffalo Theatre, respectively.

Even though they're more than 20 years apart in age, the pair has much in common: exceptional vocal talent, powerful messages in their music and the ability to connect with fan-bases that are predominantly female, but not exclusively.

Ariana Grande, 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 22 in KeyBank Center. Tickets are still available through the resale market, beginning at $114.

Does it sound too familiar to call her "Ari"? Certainly more comfortable than "Grande," which just doesn't sound right. The pop megastar, whose last year has blended commercial success with personal tumult, is still reaping the rewards of both the album and lead single entitled "thank u, next."

News contributor Johanna Sommer wrote at length about Ari's recent exploits, then mentioned five other young, female hip-hop artists worthy of your attention.

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Mariah Carey, 8 p.m. Saturday, March 23 in Shea's Buffalo Theatre (646 Main St.). Tickets begin at $76.95.

Even though she hit the peak of her popularity in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Mariah Carey has - and likely forever will be - a celebrity. And, to the surprise of some, her 2018 album "Caution" was received well by critics and marked a bit of a musical resurgence.

A review of Mariah's show last weekend in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel touches on several topics, from a cameo by Carey's 7-year-old twins, her 18-song set list and her still immaculate vocal range and strength.

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Here's the rest of the things-to-do list for the Buffalo-area this weekend:

Thurman Thomas lends insights on "Humble and Human," 2:30 p.m. Sunday, March 24 at Albright-Knox Art Gallery (1285 Elmwood Ave.). Cost is free with museum admission, and free for members. The tour is expected to fill up quickly, however, and it's first-come, first-served.

Hall-of-Fame Buffalo Bills running back Thurman Thomas spent almost his entire NFL career in Buffalo, playing for owner Ralph C. Wilson Jr., who was known for his philanthropy and passion for the arts in addition to his role for the Bills.

Rescheduled from March 17, Thomas will lead a Sunday tour through "Humble and Human," the Albright-Knox exhibition dedicated to Wilson's legacy, and divulge anecdotes and more details about his relationship with Wilson.

[Related: How Ralph Wilson's $1 billion legacy is reshaping WNY, Detroit

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WWE Live, 5 p.m. Sunday, March 24 in KeyBank Center. Tickets range from $15 to $85.

Sunday's cast may not be the A-listers from World Wrestling Entertainment, but the Road to Wrestlemania still has a solid lineup. See A.J. Styles and Daniel Bryan, as well as the female wrestling trio of Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Asuka in action.

It also might be the final time you'll see Big E in the ring, as he's threatened to quit over the treatment of Kofi Kingston. Cheer up, Big E!

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Tokyo Police Club, 7 p.m. Saturday, March 23 in Town Ballroom (681 Main St.). General admission is $22 in advance and $26 at the door.

Tokyo Police Club swings a few hours south from its home base of Newmarket, Ontario for a gig in Buffalo, a few days after falling shy in their quest for a Juno Award in the Alternative Album of the Year category for "TPC."

It's remarkable that Tokyo Police Club is even still together, much less in contention for a prestigious award, as recording together was a hassle and band members had pursued solo efforts. News contributor Mac McGuire included TPC in his "3 can't-miss shows" post, while Cleveland Scene interviewed guitarist John Hook before the band's visit there.

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Buffalo Whiskey Riot, 4 to 7 p.m. March 23 in the Buffalo Grand Hotel (120 Church St.). Tickets are $45 for general admission, $100 for VIP and will not be available at the door.

Step Out Buffalo and Tommyrotter Distillery present the annual Whiskey Riot, which boasts more than 150 whiskeys for sampling (tip: you should not try all of them in one afternoon), and learn from local distillers about the process of whiskey production and more about the spirit.

A full list of the whiskeys available for tasting may be found here, and Francesca Bond's guide before last year's Whiskey Riot lends insight, too.

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Masquerade Gala for Change MS, 6 p.m. Saturday, March 23 in Salvatore's Italian Gardens (6461 Transit Road, Depew). Cost is $130 and tickets are available here.

Dress up for this annual gala in elegant Salvatore's to raise awareness for multiple sclerosis, the mission of presenting organization Change MS. The masked theme is relevant because the disease is not outwardly obvious; as recently as 2013, MS affected Western New York residents at twice the national average.

Hors d'oeuvres, a sit-down dinner, dessert, coffee and an open bar are features of the gala, with DJ Nik Stylez and more handling the music.

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Festival of Praise: The Vintage Tour, 7 p.m. Friday, March 22 at Shea's Buffalo Theatre (646 Main St.). Tickets range from $39 to $59.

Longtime gospel stalwart and Grammy winner Fred Hammond comes to town Friday for Stage One Live's Festival of Praise. The Detroit native has sold more than 15 million records and has 12 No. 1 hits to his name. Hammond earned his Grammy in 2008 for Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album, "Free to Worship," and recently had a song covered by Chance the Rapper.

Support on the Vintage Tour comes from Brian Courtney Wilson and Bishop Cortez Vaughn. Look back at the fans who enjoyed Hammond's last visit to Shea's.

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Spring Hamburg Boutique Crawl, 4 to 9 p.m. Friday, March 22, with check-in and participant information at Cobblestone Suites (18 Buffalo St., Hamburg). Free to attend.

Twenty-one Hamburg businesses - primarily boutiques - will take part in a one-night crawl, which involves a discount at every participant, complimentary bites from the Poppyseed Restaurant in Cobblestone Suites and the chance to enter to win a collaborative giveaway basket by visiting 10 different businesses and receive punches on their Crawl Card, picked up at Cobblestone Suites, or by making purchases along the route.

Find more details at the Facebook event page.

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The Interrupters, doors at 6:30 p.m. Sunday, March 24 in Town Ballroom (681 Main St.). Tickets are $24 in advance or $26 at the door.

Los Angeles ska-punk band the Interrupters bounces abruptly into Town Ballroom for a show to close out the weekend. You might recognize the four-piece, comprising lead singer Aimee Allen and the three Bivona brothers, through "She's Kerosene," a single off 2018 album "Fight the Good Fight" that still receives substantial airplay.

Read an interview with guitarist Kevin Bivona in the Houston Press from earlier this month.

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Sold out: Science After Hours: Beerology in the Buffalo Museum of Science.

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5 events to look forward to next week

"Rent" at Shea's Buffalo Theatre
Falley Allen two-year anniversary
Fleetwood Mac in KeyBank Center
Steve Rannazzisi in Helium Comedy Club
WNY Diversity Job Fair at Convention Center

Email: btsujimoto@buffnews.com

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