Top Things to Do This Weekend: Apr 23–26

Saul Williams and Sylvan Esso, the Symphony rocks Led Zeppelin, plus free classical concerts across town—this spring weekend is all about making sweet, sweet music.

By Ramona DeNies April 23, 2015


Photo credit: Saul Williams

Saul Williams
Friday at 9 pm, Star Theater
Art activist/polymath Williams got his start in New York's '90s slam poetry scene (catch him versifying right here in Portland in 1996 documentary SlamNation). These lyrical chops led to Broadway, film—Holler If Ya Hear Me, Slam—and a music career collaborating with the likes of The Fugees, Blackalicious, Allen Ginsberg, and Trent Reznor. At the Star Theatre, he'll bring cuts of new "transmedia" tour Martyr Loser Kingdom

OPENING Classical Up Close
Friday at 2 pm and 5 pm, Saturday at 1:30 pm, Sunday at 4 pm, various locations
This Oregon Symphony tradition of free chamber concerts across the city began in 2013 as an alternative to a canceled Carnegie Hall trip. The informal festival traverses the city with full concerts and 30-minute “blitzes” that, in the past, have included works by masters from Béla Bartók to Astor Piazzolla.

Photo credit: Sylvan Esso.

Sylvan Esso
Friday at 9 pm, Crystal Ballroom
This electro-folk-pop duo broke out last year with the softly danceable “Coffee,” blending the blips, bells, and snaps of producer Nick Sanborn with singer Amelia Meath's lilting, dulcet vocals. The rest of the pair’s songs are just as transfixing live, and even more danceable. 

Moody Blues
Friday at 8 pm, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
The Moody Blues reach deep into their trove of material—culled from their ’80s comeback and beyond—to rock a 27-city spring tour that promotes the autumn release of box set The Polydor Years: 1986–1992. 

Chanticleer: The Gypsy in My Soul 
Friday at 7:30 pm, Kaul Auditorium
Music director William Fred Scott leads this Grammy-winning 12-man ensemble deemed “the world’s reigning male chorus” by the New Yorker (and yes, the group is named for Chaucer’s singing rooster). The show pays homage to the impact of gypsy rhythms on diverse musical traditions, from the Renaissance to modern times. 

Stairway to heaven: the Oregon Symphony rocks Led Zeppelin this Sunday.

Oregon Symphony: Led Zeppelin
Sunday at 7:30 pm, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Since 1995, Berklee-trained guest conductor Brent Havens has arranged 11 symphony rock programs—this, his tribute to blues rock gods Led Zeppelin, was his first. The Oregon Symphony goes total "Heartbreaker" with Havens's scoring and a full-on light show. On vocals, Randy Jackson has some mighty tight pants to fill as Robert Plant's proxy (he's had plenty of practice, as frontman for Zep cover band Zebra). 

Vivaldi's Four Seasons
Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 3 pm, various locations
What more appropriate way to mark Portland Baroque Orchestra’s 20th season with artistic director Monica Huggett—an internationally renowned baroque violinist—than with this most springlike of concertos (also summery, autumnal, and wintry)? 


Photo credit: Katherine Boo.

Katherine Boo
Thursday at 7:30 pm, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Boo has spent years documenting the lives of people in poverty, from a Pulitzer-winning series in the Washington Post revealing horrible conditions in group homes for the developmentally disabled to her first book, 2012’s National Book Award–winning Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity 

Chris Scofield
Thursday at 7 pm, Annie Bloom's Books
Author Scofield takes young adult readers to the Portland 'burbs in the 1960s with new novel The Shark Curtain. Teenage protangonist Lily Asher survives her troubled middle-class life (cheatin' parents, Tourette-like behavorial quirks) through an imagination that brings her solace in the form of ghosts, werewolves, and a rather crude Jesus.  


Scene from Gus Van Sant's 1991 cult classic My Own Private Idaho, starring Keanu Reeves and River Phoenix.

OPENING The Essential Gus Van Sant (and His Influences)
Thursday at  2pm and 7 pm, Saturday at 2 pm, Whitsell Auditorium
The inimitable Van Sant: perhaps no filmmaker has done more to paint “Portland”—albeit a gritty, marginal, often heartbreaking version—into the global imagination. From the impressionistic Mala Noche (based on a novella by local poet Walt Curtis) to 2008’s Milk, this six-week retrospective (with side-by-side screenings of early influencers like Warhol and Kubrick) traces the arc of an auteur whose oeuvre, we hope, is by no means yet complete. Prep for the movie marathon here.


Extra Terrifying Shrubbery: Nomadic offers four physical theatre workshops during the show's run. Image credit: Nomadic Theatre.

OPENING Terrifying Shrubbery
Friday and Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 2 pm, The Headwaters Theatre
Clowning around in the mystical woods of the Brothers Grimm! Nomadic Theatre's original comedy features physical comedy pros Sarah Liane Foster and Michael O'Neill with direction from Phillip Cuomo of CoHo and Third Rail Repertory. 


Photolucida Portfolio Walk
Thursday at 6 pm, Portland Art Museum
Promising more photography in one night than many see in a lifetime, this freewheeling (and free) event unites the public with the 160 artists reviewed in this year’s Portland Photo Month festival 

From Darkroom to Daylight, a documentary from Harvey Wang.

Mona Kuhn
Friday at 7 pm, Whitsell Auditorium
For the keynote event of Portland Photo Month, Kuhn—known for her dreamlike nudes—discusses the creative processes that guided two recent photo series: Private and Acido Dorado

From Darkroom to Daylight
Saturday at 7 pm, Benson Hotel
Harvey Wang’s 2014 documentary features reflective interviews with more than 20 iconic photographers and innovators. (Among them, big names like David Goldblatt and Sally Mann, as well as those behind these scenes—from Kodak's Steven Sasson, builder of the first digital camera, to Thomas Knoll, co-creator of Photoshop.)

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