Top Things To Do This Weekend: Nov 28-Dec 1

Christmas explodes across the city in a flurry of shows and lights, three leading local bands rock the weekend, and dance companies give thanks. Also, Village People!

By Aaron Scott, Portland Monthly Staff, and Nathan Tucker November 25, 2013

Holiday Guide

Sure, you might sneak a slice of leftover pie for breakfast on Friday morning, but everyone knows that Thanksgiving is really over by then: as soon as you've wrapped up the big meal, it's officially open season on Christmas festivities (for those who celebrate them). In the spirit of head starts, we've put together a comprehensive guide to Portland's holiday shows, so you can draft a plan of attack before the tryptophan hangover hits. Most the shows open this weekend:


Pearl Jam
Nov 29, Moda Center
Despite never seeming comfortable with its own fame, Pearl Jam has been the best-selling act to emerge from the ’90s grunge movement. The Seattle band hits the Moda Center with new material from its long-stewing 10th record, Lightning Bolt.

Village People
Nov 30, Crystal Ballroom
We realize that there are few acts more overwhelmingly campy and overexposed than Village People. But that’s what makes them the perfect Thanksgiving weekend show. Why sit around your increasingly claustrophobic living room arguing with your increasingly irritating family members when you can take them to the Crystal to get their groove on to the "kings of disco?"

Trio of Hometown Heroes
The heavens have aligned to give us a holiday weekend full of local all-stars the likes of which is rarely seen outside festivals. How will you choose?

  • Typhoon - Nov 29, Crystal Ballroom
    The local baroque-pop darlings wrap up a whirlwind national tour in support of this year's acclaimed White Lighter with a homecoming performance at the Crystal.
  • Blitzen Trapper - Nov 29–30, Doug Fir
    These alt-country journeymen, who first saw success with 2007's Wild Mountain Nation, will play three show in two days at the Doug Fir in support of their seventh album, appropriately titled VII. Different openers each night.
  • Menomena - Nov 30, Wonder Ballroom
    The Wonder plays host to the expirimental indie-pop of this hometown duo over Thanksgiving weekend. Wampire opens.


Last Weekend Must See  Our Town
Through Dec 1, The Headwaters
It's the last weekend to watch Liminal rescue Our Town from the doldrums of high-school cafeterias. "The avant-garde theater transforms the American classic into something searingly modern in one of the most thought-provoking shows of the season..." Read our full review.

New Review  Twist Your Dickens
Thru Dec 22, Gerding Theater at the Armory
Trying on something new this season, Portland Center Stage brings famed improv group Second City’s rendition of A Christmas Carol to its main stage. The result is a show that skewers almost every holiday classic, incorporating some improv and revolving local guests. We review it from the viewpoints of both Tiny Tim and Scrooge, offering the pro and con to come to the conclusion that it's funny enough fare for the whole family, if not as funny as we hoped. Read the review.


Thankful: A High-Flying Benefit
Dec 1, Arciform Warehouse
AWOL Dance Collective, the Circus Project, and Polaris Dance Theater join forces for a post-Thanksgiving fundraising event for the movement arts. The charitably-focused dance party will feature complimentary drinks and hors d'oeuvres, as well as music from Portland's Vagabond Opera and plenty of dance.

Portland Ballet: Enchanted Toyshop and Firebird
Nov 29–Dec 1, Lincoln Hall
As a 19-year-old, Portland Ballet artistic adviser John Clifford rose to prominence as principal dancer and choreographer with the New York City Ballet and then was the first American male to perform with the Paris Opera Ballet. The Rose City dance academy will perform Clifford’s Firebird and The Enchanted Toyshop, with scores by Stravinsky and Respighi performed live by the PSU Orchestra.

Special Events

Tree Lighting Ceremony
Nov 29 at 5:30, Pioneer Courthouse Square
Bright lights and a big tree will kick off the season of giving at the 29th tree lighting ceremony, complete with a holiday sing-a-long featuring Thomas Lauderdale and members of Pink Martini, “Oregon’s Own” 234th Army Band, the Pacific Youth Choir, and more. PoMo tip: Score a bird's-eye view, belly-warming drinks, and a respite from the crowd at Departure, the rooftop bar at the Nines Hotel.

Festival of Lights
Nov 29–Dec 30, The Grotto
Hot cocoa, carolers, 150 choral performances, and more than 500,000 lights transfigure 62-acre Catholic shrine and botanical garden the Grotto for the holiday season. 

Visual Art

Last weekend for the November gallery shows

Tad Savinor's "Sustainability"

PDX Contemporary
Rarely do two unrelated shows play so well together in one gallery. Eschewing his past text-focused work, Tad Savinor creates small, tongue-in-cheek sculptures where dainty bronze castings, like a tree sprouting from a spoon called “Sustainability,” sit on lacquered displays, heirlooms of industrial-state absurdity. Anna Grey and Ryan Wilson Paulson also skewer the modern industrial world with photos, cement cairns, graphite drawings like “Inside the Totalitarian Onion,” and a Rapunzel-style towel printed with “We Already Quit” over and over that hangs in the gallery, as well as out of the third floor of an office building into a dumpster in a photo.

Elizabeth Leach Gallery
As its title suggests, the MacArthur “genius” Ann Hamilton’s The Reading investigates the relationship between reading and writing, text and textile, using videos, prints, and sculpture.


Rick Bartow's "Magic Bird"

Froelick Gallery
Wander past Benny Fountain’s monochromatic still life explorations in oil paint, from washes to furrows, to Rick Bartow’s bewitching pastels and paintings of spirits part human/part animal—a flurry of teeth, eyes, beaks, and hair—that are so vibrantly colored they sear into your brain like a dream half understood. Unsurprisingly for the Newport-based Native American artist, whose sculpture We Were Always Here was recently commissioned by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, almost all were sold by the opening preview.

Augen Gallery
Sally Cleveland’s collages are postcard-sized studies in color that stand in contrast to Anne Hirondelle’s stoneware studies of shape. If you missed his show last month, make sure to honor Jim Riswold’s “Fairy Godmother of Medical Research (Portrait of Mary Lasker)”—a pop painting of cancer scourge Lasker as a doll in a commemorative postcard. If only!

Hartman Fine Art
Harry Callahan
was one of the most influential photographers of the twentieth century. Don’t miss these silver prints of some of his best known work.

Art Gym
This internationally exhibited artist Fernanda D’Agostino remakes the Art Gym into a multimedia, interactive video and sculpture installation looking back over her three-decade career.

Hoffman Gallery
The homegrown painter and printmaker Stephen Hayes gets and gives his due with 30 years of evocations of people and landscape, aptly titled Figure/Ground. The evolution in his landscapes are particular gripping, from bare, obscured representations to thick, rich abstractions.

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