Top Things to Do This Weekend: Aug 13–16

You'll sound like happy this weekend, with the PDX Synesthesia Festival, Ural Thomas and the Pain, the Stumptown Improv Fest, and the joyous disregard for personal safety at the Adult Soapbox Derby.

By Ramona DeNies August 13, 2015

Have a need for speed this weekend? We’ve got your weekend itinerary below—plus five more picks!—courtesy of Portland Monthly’s 2015 Summer Guide.
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This weekend: the Adult Soapbox Derby gains traction. Image: ROGER BRAUNSTEIN

It’s mid-August, people—the office is a ghost town. Knock off early on Friday and slake your thirst at the 11th Annual North American Organic Brewers Festival in Overlook Park. Turn your back on the city below you as you quaff organic brews from your moral high ground at this sustainability-focused fest. Such suds should leave you set for Saturday’s annual adult Soapbox Derby, where otherwise sane individuals hurl themselves down the winding roads of Mount Tabor in garage-crafted vehicles, fueled by gravity and some brand of crazed competition. If you’re not quite up for your own entry, there are ample spots for spectators on the grassy slopes, but claim your spot early: thousands turn out for this annual harebrained hell-raiser. If that sampling of speed whets your appetite for some adventure, Sunday should find you signing up with Willamette Jetboat Excursions for an exhilarating ride along downtown’s riverfront. Still channeling your inner James Bond? Finish up with happy hour cocktails on the roof deck at Departure. Shaken, not stirred, obvs. 

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JV at the Stumptown Improv Festival this Saturday.


Stumptown Improv Festival
Thursday–Saturday starting at 7 pm, Milagro Theatre
Last year, this upstart comedy showcase caught Portland reviewers by surprise. Sure, that’s improv in action, but the real takeaway was the brand-new event’s sheer awesomeness. Will the organizers pull off round two? We’d imagine so, with acts like New York’s Magnet Theater, Daily Sheriff and JV from LA, BC’s Ferrari McSpeedy, and locals like Whiskey Tango. Here are six acts we hope to catch.


Montavilla Jazz Festival
Saturday & Sunday from 1 pm till late, Portland Metro Arts
Benefiting the Montavilla Schools Music Fund, the program for this second-annual neighborhood festival, curated by San Francisco jazz transplant Ryan Meagher, features 13 local favorites—from Darrell Grant’s All 4 Naught to the George Colligan Quartet.

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Ural Thomas and the Pain. Image: Alicia Rose

Ural Thomas and the Pain
Friday at 8 pm, Revolution Hall
Everyone loves a comeback story, and that of North Portland’s veteran R&B funkmaster is a doozy. Once sharing stages with the likes of Otis Redding and James Brown, Thomas slipped into obscurity in the ’70s. Two years ago, a clutch of young Portland musicians convinced the septuagenarian to reclaim the mic; the group has since won over new generations of soul fans at Pickathon and Soul’d Out. Times sure have changed from 1967.



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Opening this weekend: Kate Watkins in Schizo.

Friday & Saturday at 8 pm, Sunday at 2 pm, Shaking the Tree
Kate Watkins takes a break from her many roles at local companies like Shaking the Tree, Hand2Mouth, Portland Playhouse) to deliver this premiere: a RACC-funded solo project grant that explores her experience of her younger brother's battle with schizophrenia. 

CLOSING Time, A Fair Hustler
Thursday–Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 2 pm
Where among today’s condos and food carts would we find the hustlers, thieves, and Rat Kings of Gus Van Sant’s 1991 Portland classic My Own Private Idaho? This mixed-media premiere from Hand2Mouth Theatre reconvenes the film’s characters to tackle questions of history, nostalgia, and survival. Bid adieu following Sunday's final matinee at Hand2Mouth's "Funeral for Old Portland."


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Seattle power pop quartet the Hoot Hoots: at the PX Synesthesia Festival this weekend.

PDX Synesthesia Festival
Friday–Sunday from 10 am to 10 pm, Main Event Art Gallery
The second annual event aims to create an intellectual quester’s playground—a warehouse full of more than 100 interactive, “non-competitive” art, music, and academic happenings feeding into, the organizers hope, a cross-synaptic sensation of synesthesia. Will you taste color as local philosopher Matthew Fielder explores the “daemonic parasubject” through art and dance? See sound as Seattle power pop quartet the Hoot Hoots bring on the “headhum”? 


OPENING Glean Exhibition
Friday–Sunday from noon to 5 pm, Disjecta Contemporary Art Center 
Like an eco-creative spin on a Food Network show, the five Portland artists participating in this annual exhibit cull materials from a preassigned source: in this case, the Metro Central Transfer Station (you might know it as the dump). From “rusting” specialist Rio Wrenn to Schel Harris’s spin on packaging, this show is all about the high art of dumpster diving.

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