Pomo Picks

Top Things to Do in Portland This Week: Sept 16–22

TBA kicks off, Back Fence returns, Herbie Hancock comes to town, and more

By Conner Reed September 16, 2021

Emily Johnson performing Monumental Movement Toward Being Future Beings at Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens. She'll continue to develop at PICA throughout the Time-Based Art Festival, which kicks off this week.

Image: Scott Lynch

The fall air is creeping its way into our skies. August sipped away like a bottle of winespeaking of which. Still, it’s technically the last week of summer, and we’re willing to wring that technicality for all it’s worth. Looking for some laughs? Some movies? A workshop of a puppet-filled drag clown solo show that reckons with the worst effects of climate change? Us too. We’ve got you covered—here’s what we have our eyes on this week. 


Bob Saget

7:30 p.m. & 10 p.m. Fri–Sat, Sept 17–18, Helium Comedy Club, $35–45

The Full House star and America's Funniest Home Video host will do four shows at Helium this weekend—two are already sold out, so Saget stans (Sagetheads? Little Sagets?) better act fast. We wait with bated breath to see if the new material does anything to address Saget's stint on The Masked Singer as the nightmare-inducing Squiggly Monster.

Dino Archie

8:30 p.m. Fri, Sept 17, Siren Theater, $15

Vancouver, B.C.-based comedian Dino Archie (who won the Seattle International Comedy Competition in 2015) will come to Old Town on Friday on a billing with comics AC O'Neal, Rissa Riss, Richie Aflleje, and Ken Hamlett. It's part of the Siren's ongoing Minority Retort series; proof of vaccination is required for entry.


Desert Hearts

7 p.m. Mon, Sept 20, Clinton Street Theater, FREE–$6

Donna Deitch's tender, gorgeous mid-80s tale of budding lesbian romance in Reno is always a must-see, and as part of the Clinton's Resistance Series, your pay-what-you-will ticket will got to the Alano Club of Portland, which provides recovery and relapse prevention resources.

Y Tu Mamá También

7:30 p.m. Wed, Sept 22, Holllywood Theatre, $10–20

This is the second Portland screening of Alfonso Cuarón’s 2001 masterpiece about a pair of rambunctious teenagers (Gael García Bernal and Diego Luna) who learn about love, loss, and sex on a beach trip with an older woman (Maribel Verdú) in two months. We're never going to suggest you pass up the option to see it on the big screen. This particular showtime is part of the Portland Latin American Film Festival; proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test are required for attendance.


Lose Yr Mind Fest

Fri–Sat, Sept 17–18, Vitalidad, $10–60

11 acts will grace the stage of inner-SE performance space Vitalidad for the 7th annual iteration of this beloved music festival. Locals like Plastic Cactus and Spoonbenders will join acts from around the country, including Acid Dad, Deap Valley, and more; Kex Portland will host supplementary DJ sets throughout the weekend.

Herbie Hancock

6 p.m. Wed, Sept 22, Edgefield, $50–110

The 81-year-old jazz legend is on the tail end of his summer tour (it wraps in Los Angeles next Sunday), but before he hangs up his hat, he'll come to Edgefield for an early midweek set. You can head out to Troutdale, enjoy some virtuosic jazz funk as the sun sets, and be home in time to catch a crisp 8 hours before Thursday morning. Our idea of a good time.


8 p.m. Sat, Sept 18, Aladdin Theater & 8 p.m. Sun, Sept 19, Wonder Ballroom

Singer-songwriter Katie Crutchfied’s 2020 album, Saint Cloud, was one of early quarantine’s preeminent auditory salves. After a delay of more than a year, Crutchfield (who performs as Waxahatchee) will finally get to bring her rootsy, tough-minded songs of sobriety and self-love to Portland this weekend. Looking to cry softly with a wheat beer in your hand while Crutchfield conjures the ghost of (very-much-alive) Lucinda Williams? Us, too! 

Special Events

Back Fence: Campfire Stories

7:30 p.m. & 10 p.m. Fri–Sat, Sept 17–18, Old Moody Building, $20–50

The award-winning storytelling event returns this weekend, with sponsorship from Artists Repertory Theatre, for a roster of tall, spooky tales told around a proverbial campfire (burn bans are burn bans!) on the South Waterfront, beneath the OHSU tram. Two "cabins" of storytellers will perform each night, including former PoMo fashion editor Eden Dawn. Don't miss out.

Drags @ Zags Brunch Painting Party

11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Sun, Sept 19, The Hotel Zags, $65

Local queens Syrah St. James and Feather Dusted launched this new, weekly drag event at downtown’s Hotel Zags earlier this month. Attendees receive a full brunch, plus a painting setup, on-loan apron, take-home canvas, and all. St. James and Dusted will provide step-by-step painting instructions (and critiques) throughout, and yes, booze is available for purchase.

Time-Based Art Festival

Sept 16–Oct 3, Various times & locations, FREE–$200

PICA's annual two-week performance art party kicks off this week, with a hybrid in-person/streaming program of mind-bending works. Drag clowns, Instagram Live theater, over-the-phone musical performances, guerrilla dance showcases—it's all there. Check out our top picks for this year's festival here, and stay tuned for more PoMo coverage as the festival unfolds.

Visual Art


11 a.m.–6 p.m. Thu–Sat and by appointment, Aug 25–Oct 9, 1010 NW Flanders St, FREE 

As a part of its Portland Monuments and Memorials Project, Converge 45 will host this two-month exhibition in a 5,000-square-foot Northwest Portland warehouse. Featuring work by more than 30 artists, it reckons with the meaning and importance of public monuments, featuring proposals and prototypes for new ones beside art that provokes questions about old ones.

Venice VR Expanded

10 a.m.–5 p.m. Wed–Sun through Sept 19, Portland Art Museum, $35

This three-week virtual reality engagement, which offers museum-goers hourlong slots to immerse themselves in VR experiences from the 78th Venice International Film Festival, comes to a close this weekend. Viewers will be surrounded by a work from Mobile Projection Unit called Letters to Earth, which interrogates our relationship to the natural world. 

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