Top Things to Do This Weekend: Aug 20–23

Watkins Family Hour, Debussy (like, revolutionized!), your last chance for free Original Practice Shakespeare, and a Saturday cinema escape into the wild worlds of modern virtual reality.

By Ramona DeNies August 20, 2015

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Watkins Family Hour
Friday at 8 pm, Aladdin Theater
Plaintive fiddles and slide guitar add to the mythos of this long-standing LA folk act led by Nickel Creek members/siblings Sara and Sean Watkins. This summer, the band tours to promote its debut album, promising a different lineup in each city. Among the likely big-name guests: Benmont Tench, the keyboardist from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, and Fiona Apple.

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Battles plays Saturday at MusicfestNW. Photo credit: Grant Cornett

Friday from 5:30 pm to 10 pm, Saturday & Sunday from 12:30 pm to 10 pm, Waterfront Park
The 2015 program for Willamette Week’s annual rock festival includes local faves like Lost Lander and Alialujah Choir alongside hot national acts like Foster the People, Beirut, Battles, and Milo Greene. Among this year’s MFNW must-sees: Portland’s own Helio Sequence—currently tearing up the nation with their eponymous June album: a “rager,” according to Buzzbands.

Classical Revolution PDX: Debussy: Revolutionized
Saturday at 6:30 pm, Holocene
It’s Debussy’s birthday! Celebrating the French composer’s 153rd year as part of Classical Revolution PDX’s Chamber Jam Program are seven musicians—from trumpeter Douglas Detrick to Valery Saul and Kira Whiting—each applying their own spin to works including La flûte de Pan and Coin des enfants.

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The chemistry of love at first sight, via virtual reality goggles: Aaron Bradbury’s LoVR plays this Saturday at the Kaleidoscope VR Film Fest.


Virtual Reality Film Festival
Saturday from 3:30 pm to 8 pm, Flex Space
With 20 virtual reality experiences alongside artist talks and loaner goggles from Oculus Rift, this surely is the festival for the techiest of cinephiles. These screenings aim to exploit VR’s ability to translate the ineffable into visual fireworks—like Aaron Bradbury’s LoVR, Mike Tucker’s Tana Pura (what, he asks, is it like to die?), and Hayoun Kwon’s Memories of a No Man’s Land, which takes viewers inside the drama of the Korean demilitarized zone.


OPENING Up the Fall
Saturday at 7:30 pm, Sunday at 2 pm, Artists Repertory Theatre
Beloved Portland singer-songwriter Laura Gibson’s first-ever musical score, written exclusively for this world premiere from Oregon playwright Debbie Lamedman, was destroyed this March in a fire at her New York City apartment building. The flames of Gibson’s creativity are not so easily squelched, however. The show—a myth-and-folktale mash-up starring local actors with and without disabilities—goes on!

Theory of Everything
Sunday at 2 pm, Portland Center Stage
Prince Gomolvilas’s “dramatic pan-Asian American comedy” launches with two staged readings presented through Mediarites’s Theatre Diaspora, and directed by Rusty Tenant. What you can expect: UFOs, a Las Vegas wedding chapel, existentialism, and secrets.

Thursday–Saturday at 7:30 pm, Saturday at 2 pm, Sunday at 1 pm, Keller Auditorium
This musical reimagining takes on two of the most famous characters in the Land of Oz: Glinda the Good, and the Wicked Witch of the West (known, in Winnie Holzman’s adaptation of Gregory Maguire’s novel, as Elphaba). Stephen Schwartz’s Grammy-winning score has helped keep this Broadway blockbuster flying since its 2003 premiere.

CLOSING Original Practice Shakespeare Festival
Saturday at 2 pm and 7 pm at Gabriel Park, Sunday at 1 pm at Laurehurst Park
Out to prove that the Bard can’t be tamed, OPS returns for its seventh season of rollicking free outdoor shows—some all-male, some all-female, and some definitely not suitable for the kiddies. This weekend, catch the fest's final three summer playsThe Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth and Much Adoe About Nothing.


Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn
Saturday at 5:30 pm, Penner-Ash Winery, Newberg
The banjo master and his also musical spouse—touring to support their eponymous new album—entertain at an "intimate" concert to benefit the Children's Cancer Association's JoyRx program. Included in the ticket price: Penner-Ash wines, of course, and also a picnic dinner from none other than rockstar chef Vitaly Paley.

Want more weekend options? We help you catch the wind with a pre-vetted itinerary courtesy of Portland Monthly’s 2015 Summer Guide—below!

As the summer sizzles, the waterfront beckons, and you—along with a few thousand of your friends—to MusicFest NW, which this year adds a Friday set to the mega-cool lineup. There’s only one way to recover from a night of beer and boogying in soaring temps, however: a restorative ride down the 20-foot, naturally occurring rock waterslide into the bracing pools of Opal Creek. Sure, you have to drive a couple of hours and hike up a bone-dry road to get there, but a plunge into the sparkling, blue-green river is plenty reward. Invigorated by that baptism? Maybe on Sunday it’s time to take action on those sailing lessons you’ve been talking about for years. Scovare Expeditions offers a 90-minute introduction to sailing on the Willamette, while Portland Sailing Center navigates the mighty Columbia. As Mark Twain said, “Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” We totally agree.

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