The Essentials

13 Things to See and Do in Portland: August 2018

What's on deck this month? Junk sculptures, heterodox hip-hop, and a Parisian comedy of manners by a Canadian living in North Portland.

By Rebecca Jacobson and Fiona McCann July 17, 2018 Published in the August 2018 issue of Portland Monthly

1. Forest for the Trees

Aug 5–11
The city is the canvas for this annual festival, which brings national and international artists to town to work alongside their  Portland counterparts on large-scale public murals all over town.  (Above, work created during the 2017 festival by Shawna X.)

2. Anonymous Theatre

Aug 13, Gerding Theatre at the Armory
The premise, to be clear, is gimmicky: auditions and rehearsals happen in secret, with actors showing up in street clothes the evening of the performance, fellow cast members as yet unknown to them. They deliver their first lines from their seats, and the production—this year, A Midsummer Night’s Dream—unfolds. Helter-skelter, but exhilarating in its own batty way.

Crowdsurfing at Pickathon

3. Pickathon

Aug 3–5, Pendarvis Farm
In 1998, a small-scale, folks-roots festival to benefit KBOO launched, attracting audiences in the—well, dozens. Twenty years on, Pickathon, back at Pendarvis Farm this month, has become a much bigger small-scale event—a joyous, beforested, barn-stomping, family-friendly, foodie-music fest with a waste-free ethos and a winning balance of biggish acts (this year’s lineup boasts Broken Social Scene and Built to Spill), returning festival favorites (Tinariwen, Shakey Graves), and new-to-many discoveries (Black Pumas, anyone?): spontaneous magic. Somehow bespoke, utterly beloved, and particularly Portland-ish, it’s as much a summer staple as Salt & Straw and swimming holes. Don’t miss it.

4. Art in the Dark

Aug 3–12, Mary S. Young Park
Suspended from the trees of West Linn’s Mary S. Young Park, A-WOL’s aerial dancers twirl, flip, and contort above an illuminated stage. Ambient electro-pop act East Forest provides live musical accompaniment. 

5. Julie Whipple

Aug 20, Powell's City of Books
Forty years ago, a passenger plane crashed in suburban Portland, killing 10. Author Julie Whipple dives into the event, and the legal aftermath—her father, Stewart Whipple, was one of the trial attorneys—that changed aviation, in Crash Course

6. Glean

Aug 3–25, PNCA’s Furthermore Gallery
Junk sculptures are an art-class staple, but this nine-year-old program levels up, granting five local artists access to pick through Metro’s massive central dump and create at least eight gallery-worthy pieces (also available for sale).

7. Shabazz Palaces

Aug 10, Doug Fir Lounge
Seattle’s heterodox hip-hop duo has produced otherworldly grooves for nigh on a decade, a sound they doubled down on last summer with a pair of concept albums about an alien called Quazarz dispatched to “Amurderca.”

8. Ghostland

Aug 19, Crush Bar
Launched in March, this bimonthly event calls itself a “living dreamworld”—part literary series, part performance-art salon, part multimedia experiment. This month’s theme is “Rebirth,” with corresponding costumes highly encouraged.

9. PDX Adult Soapbox Derby

Aug 18, Mount Tabor
Every year, the laws of gravity, aerodymanics, and creative whackery warp as homemade conveyances hurtle down the twisty slopes of Mount Tabor in an expletive-filled race to the bottom. High-velocity hijinks guaranteed. 

10. Back Country Bash

Aug 4, Joseph
The winning wilds of Joseph, Oregon, play host to this small-town alt-country event, headlined by rootsy rockers Reckless Kelly. Come for the twang, stay (in the 23-acre campground) for the breathtaking Eastern Oregon surrounds. 

11. Neal Brennan

Aug 18, Aladdin Theater
The comic, best known for cowriting Chappelle’s Show and Half Baked, brings his deadpan yet emotionally candid stand-up to the Aladdin.

Image: Courtesy Ecco

Read It

A master of literary shape shifting, Patrick deWitt returns with a pitch-perfect comedy of manners about a wealthy widow and her codependent son, who skip out for Paris when their money runs out. French Exit is brimful of wit, with claws out for deft swipes at our unmannered 21st-century realities.

Hear It

Portland-based Evan Baker and Cody Moser, also known as the Analog Affair, bring a kind of insouciant groove to electro-pop beats in their newest album, Avalanche. “Hey, everybody, it’s the new shit / grab your money” invokes the opening track. What are you waiting for?

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