PoMo Picks

Top Things to Do This Weekend: Sept 20–23

Big names swing through town, including DeRay McKesson, Lily Tomlin, and John Prine. Plus: new work by Latinx playwrights, The Color Purple, and a STRFKR anniversary.

By Rebecca Jacobson and Fiona McCann September 20, 2018

Books & Talks

DeRay McKesson

7:30 p.m. Thu, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $15–40
The Black Lives Matter activist, Pod Save the People host, and onetime Baltimore mayoral candidate visits Portland with his new book, On the Other Side of Freedom: The Case for Hope. He’ll be hosted by nonprofit Literary Arts, and joined onstage by special guests for a “no-holds-barred conversation about inclusion, community, and progress.”

Eli Saslow

7:30 p.m. Fri, Powell's City of Books, FREE
How does a white supremacist come to renounce the ideology that has guided his life? That’s the story Pulitzer-winning Washington Postreporter Eli Saslow tells in Rising Out of Hatred: The Awakening of a Former White Nationalist, following the events that led Derek Black to disavow his family’s (and his own) beliefs.


Lily Tomlin

7:30 p.m. Sat, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $40+
The actor, comedian, and general force of nature—she’s spent a half century on both stage and screen, from Laugh-In to Grace and Frankie—brings her stand-up act to the Schnitz.


John Prine

8 p.m. Fri, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $82.50–128
Feeling glum about the world? Not only does septuagenarian country troubadour John Prine have a song about that, but this year’s The Tree of Forgiveness, arriving 13 years after his last release, is solace enough. Catch him at the Schnitz as a reminder that not all the good ones are gone after all.


8 p.m. Fri, Wonder Ballroom, $27–75
The Denver quartet is part baroque pop, part gypsy rock, and part circus show. The band's most recent LP, This Night Falls Forever, is their first studio album since 2011.

Big Thief

8:30 p.m. Sat, Wonder Ballroom, SOLD OUT
The Brooklyn indie-rock band builds bold, intricate music, propelled by singer-guitarist Adrianne Lenker’s raw vocals.


9 p.m. Sat, Holocene, $22–25
Portland-by-way-of-Portugal’s Grammy-winning RAC—a.k.a. André Allen Anjos—dropped his second album, EGO, last summer: a layered, punchy 14-track, electro-pop win clocking in at exactly 60 minutes and boasting collaborations with Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo, Vampire Weekend’s Rostam, MNDR, and St. Lucia, among others.


9 p.m. Sat, 5 and 9 p.m. Sun, Doug Fir Lounge, late shows sold out, early show $27.50–30
The Portland-formed synth-pop band celebrates its 10th anniversary by performing its self-titled album in full. Expect a sweaty, frenetic dance party.

Puddles Pity Party

7 p.m. Sun, Newmark Theatre, $50–100
The “Sad Clown with the Golden Voice” does marvelously woeful covers of your favorite songs, from Lorde’s “Royals” to Johnny Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” He’s a little weird, a little awkward, and far more tender than he has any right to be.

Song of the Swifts

4 p.m., Sun, Steel Door Gallery, $10-$20
In the first of two concerts inspired by the Vaux's swifts' annual Chapman chimney excursion, local contemporary music ensemble Fear No Music premieres new compositions on themes of migration, flight, and home. Read more about the series. 

Opening Night with Renée Fleming

7:30 p.m. Sun, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $65+
Conductor Carlos Kalmar kicks off the Oregon Symphony’s 122nd season with a concert featuring the star soprano, who last performed in Portland in 2016.


OPENING The Color Purple

7:30 p.m. Thu–Sat, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Sun, The Armory, $25–77
Portland Center Stage opens its season with a musical version of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer-winning novel, set in the American South in the first half of the 20th century. The show, which originally ran on Broadway from 2005 to 2008, was revived in late 2015 to great acclaim.

Ingenio Milagro

7 p.m. Fri, 1 and 7 p.m. Sat, 11:30 a.m. Sun, Milagro Theatre, FREE
Milagro, Portland's only company devoted to Latin American theater, presents readings of four in-progress plays by Latinx artists, exploring such issues as racial hierarchy, homophobia, and family heritage.

Visual Art


Noon–6 p.m. Thu–Sun, Ori Gallery, FREE
North Portland’s Ori Gallery, which spotlights work by queer and trans artists of color, presents a new group exhibit that considers tattooing through the lens of race and gender. What is the significance of body modification for those with marginalized identities? How can tattooing bring about healing or self-reclamation? With work by Raychelle Duazo, Lilian Dirrebes, Emma Kates-Shaw, and Adam Ponto, Stratum aims to showcase tattooers “as artists, storytellers, and activists.”

LeBrie Rich

11 a.m.–6 p.m. Thu–Sun, Wolff Gallery, FREE
In Felt Grocery, Portlander LeBrie Rich examines food as both political statement and cultural connector with a series of 20 felted food sculptures of products she grew up eating. Hostess Donettes, Ritz crackers, Jif peanut butter: she painstakingly renders each in fuzzy, tactile form as one-off, nostalgia-evoking representations of mass-produced products the artist says she sees as both sinister and representative of familial closeness. We've got more on the show here.

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