What to Do

Weekend at Last

Go and be glad

By John Chandler July 17, 2009

Quick! Grab your day planner and pencil in these stellar weekend happenings! This appears to be one of those 72-hour periods that are so crammed full of good stuff that some prudent words of advice can make all the difference.

First of all, remember to give yourself a break. You can’t be everywhere at once, snapping iPhone photos like some kind of madman in an effort to preserve these crucial cultural memories. It can’t be done. Instead, take your time and methodically make a plan. Oh, and drink lots of water. We don’t want anyone spending the next few days in the ER.

You’ve got two chances to see hometown heroes the Decemberists at McMenamins Edgefield (shows at 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday), but you may be forced to concoct a clever bit of subterfuge to get in, because at last glance tickets were getting harder to find than a cheerful barista at Stumptown. I usually just borrow a secondhand squeeze box and march past the ticket counter muttering something about being Jenny Conlee’s accordion tech. Never fails.

If you can put off Colin Meloy and friends till Sunday, Saturday night brings keyboard virtuoso Jeremy Denk to the last weekend of the Portland International Piano Festival. Denk, whose playing the New York Times breathlessly describes as “bracing, effortlessly virtuosic and utterly joyous” will take on Bach’s Goldberg Variations, also known as Aria and Thirty Variations, a sublime piece made famous by reclusive piano genius Glenn Gould. He’ll also fast-forward a few centuries to prolific modernist composer Charles Ives’s seldom-performed Piano Sonata no. 1.

Staying with the international theme for a moment, a day spent sipping exotic ales is never a waste of time, and the Portland International Beer Festival serves as a good palate warm-up for the mammoth Oregon Brewers Festival the following weekend. Ramble over to the North Park Blocks and savor the flavors of France, Belgium, and Bavaria for a nominal fee.

And since you’re downtown anyway, it would be a neighborly gesture to slide by Pioneer Courthouse Square and watch local design teams creating serious works of art from a giant sandbox at the annual Yoshida’s Sand in the City exhibition. This event serves as an inventive fundraiser for Kids on the Block, an international education program that serves over 70,000 area children. If you haven’t been before, know that you’re likely to encounter everything from Stonehenge replicas to figural statuary that wouldn’t be out of place in a royal garden.

Whew! That’s a whole lot of weekend carousing! But if you’ve got the stomach for more, there’s also the Highland Games, King Black Acid at the Doug Fir Lounge, a Hawaii-Halloween mash-up party at Voodoo Doughnut Too … Alright, alright, you’ve earned some downtime. Hit the showers.

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