The Essentials

13 Things to See and Do in Portland: June 2018

Pop star Frankie Simone drops her debut EP, Soweto Kinch plays genre-crossing jazz, and Masha Gessen talks straight about Trump and Putin.

By Rebecca Jacobson and Fiona McCann May 22, 2018 Published in the June 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

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Frankie Simone drops her debut EP June 1.

1. Frankie Simone

Portland-based Puerto Rican pop diva Frankie Simone announced herself in April with “War Paint,” a radio-ready rallying cry for queer self-acceptance. The pulsing dance pop track was inspired by homophobic Facebook comments she received from a family member. “It’s a song reclaiming pain and transmuting it into power,” she says. Her debut EP, Love/Warrior, drops June 1. (Catch the release show at Holocene May 31.)

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Eli Steffen brings a participatory performance called War to Risk/Reward.

2. Risk/Reward

June 29–July 1, Artists Repertory Theatre
The annual gold mine of cross-genre, boundary-busting performance is back, with six new artists (including Eli Steffen, pictured right) who dive into gender experience, toxic masculinity, racial identity, and street dance styles.

3. Soweto Kinch

June 14, Jack London Revue
The British saxophonist and MC is known for incorporating rap into his musical storytelling; he’s also found inspiration in Dante and mathematics. Live, he’s a lesson in improvisational energy and a genre-crossing jazz master.

4. Masha Gessen

June 12, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
Paranoid about Putin? Tense about Trump? Don’t expect any of that allayed tonight—the Russian American journalist and National Book Award winner is unflinching in her criticism of the two men. 

5. Tribute to Ursula K. Le Guin

June 13, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
The Portland legend, who died in January at age 88, did more than just about anyone to bring respect to the oft-maligned genres of fantasy and science fiction. Tonight, Literary Arts invites a slew of speakers, including Jonathan Lethem, Molly Gloss, and—via video—Margaret Atwood, to reflect on Le Guin’s work and legacy.

6. The Domestics

June 2, Mississippi Studios
Last summer, this band hit the headlines with a PR stunt involving a fake James Comey tape and a KKK return address. (No, really—look it up.) National outcry ensued, and the full, melodic swell of their record Little Darkness got lost in the furor. Have a listen.

7. The Secretaries

June 14–July 1, Artists Repertory Theatre
SlimFast shakes, synchronized menstrual cycles, and murder—those are the ingredients in this dark comedy by the Five Lesbian Brothers about five women working in the secretarial pool at an Oregon lumber mill, presented here by Profile Theatre. 

8. Julie Green

June 7–July 28, Upfor Gallery
The Oregon artist, known for her “Last Supper” series illustrating the meal requests of death row inmates, visits similar themes in her newest exhibit, In Food, Fashion and Capital Punishment. This time, the plates are disposable Chinet covered in plaster, the painting delicately reminiscent of antique china. 

9. Fallout

June 1–9, Imago Theatre
Count on Imago Theatre cofounder Carol Triffle to milk the end of the world for off-kilter humor. The playwright, known for fever-dream absurdity, sets her latest work in a nuclear fallout shelter, following three characters as things go haywire.

10. Middleditch & Schwartz

June 1, Newmark Theater
Parks and Recreation
’s slang-spewing Jean-Ralphio Saperstein may seem like an unlikely comedic partner for Silicon Valley’s Richard Hendricks. But those roles’ actors, Ben Schwartz and Thomas Middleditch? A more promising pair. Find out if they deliver at this evening of long-form improv.

11. Oregon Zoo Summer Concerts

June 14–Sept 12, Oregon Zoo
The zoo’s venerable alfresco series kicks off with reggae standby Ziggy Marley on June 14, followed later by Belle & Sebastian (June 30), Punch Brothers and Andrew Bird (Aug 18), and Pink Martini (Aug 25–26).

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Read It 

Oregon State prof Nick Dybek’s second novel, The Verdun Affair, sets a love triangle, an amnesiac soldier, and an ambulance driver gathering bones from the battlefield against the backdrop of World War I, in what Kirkus calls “a familiar love triangle reimagined in an absorbing tale.”

Hear It

Tents calls their sound “comfort-pop.” It’s an apt description: the Portland quartet makes lush pop that flirts with melancholy before swelling into shimmery, unabashedly hooky uplift. The band’s full-length debut, Deer Keeps Pace, muses on addiction, illness, and the power of family.

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