Pomo Picks

Top Things to Do in Portland This Week: Sept 30–Oct 6

The Symphony returns, TBA winds down, an Iranian vampire classic comes to the Clinton, and more

By Conner Reed September 30, 2021

A still from Rubén García Marrufo, Jaleesa Johnston, and Maximiliano's At the End of Empire, on view at PICA as part of TBA until October 3.

Fall has finally arrived. It’s bittersweet: it puts summer officially behind us, but it also means events and festivals are ramping up, and long-hibernating arts organizations are emerging from their slumber. This week, the Oregon Symphony returns to the Schnitz, TBA winds down, a modern vampire classic comes to the Clinton, and indie rock royalty Lucy Dacus plays a pair of shows. Grab some apple cider; we’ll see you there. 


Felipe Esparza

8 p.m. Thu, 7:30 & 10 p.m. Fri–Sat, 7 p.m. Sun, Sept 30–Oct 3, Helium Comedy Club, $30–50

The actor, podcast host, and standup has appeared on Superstore, The Eric Andre Show, Netflix's Gentefied, and most recently, his hourlong special Bad Decisions (Felipe's third since 2012). Portland fans will get six(!) opportunities to catch him at Helium this weekend, and in case any budding comedians feel a spark of inspiration during the set, the club will kick off a week of open mics starting on Tuesday, October 5.


A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

7 p.m. Sat, Oct 2, Clinton Street Theater, $8–10

An Iranian feminist vampire Western? Don't mind if we do. Ana Lily Amirpour's stunning 2014 feature (one of our all-time faves) kicks off a very promising month of horror programming at the Clinton, running the gamut from campy to terrifying and back again. A Girl Walks Home is on the milder side of the terror spectrum, and its breathtaking compositions and freewheeling imagination are not to be missed, especially on the big screen.

Outside the Frame: Riders in the Storm

7 p.m. Thu, Sept 30, Hollywood Theatre, suggested donation $36–72

The Light a Fire award-winning nonprofit, which trains houseless youth in filmmaking and gives them hands-on experience, will host its annual gala at the Hollywood this week with a program of short films the group produced in the last year. Among them will be the music video for "Animal Control," a protest anthem featuring the Oregon Symphony, Mic Crenshaw, and young Portland rappers JProdigy and Corwin Gold.


Lucy Dacus

8:30 p.m. Thu, Sept 30 & 9 p.m. Fri, Oct 1, Wonder Ballroom, $23

The singer, songwriter, and Boygenius-affiliate dropped Home Video, her excellent third LP, this summer. It's full of knowing, nostalgic rock songs that pick apart her Southern Christian upbringing, and she'll play two shows at the Wonder this week in support of it. Rising rocker Bartees Strange (whose debut record Live Forever is well worth a listen) will open.

David Danzmayr Conducts Mahler’s Second Symphony

7:30 p.m. Sat & Mon, 2:30 p.m. Sun, Oct 2–4, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, $25–79

The Symphony’s new music director kicks off the 2021/22 season with three nights of Mahler, in a program with classical pianist Gabriela Lena Frank's Elegía Andina and a new work by Portland violist Kenji Bunch. Mahler's second symphony is often titled "Resurrection," and we can't think of a more fitting theme for the group's return to the Schnitz.

Special Events

Drags @ Zags Brunch Painting Party

11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Sun, Oct 3, The Hotel Zags, $65

Local queens Syrah St. James and Feather Dusted launched this new, weekly drag event at downtown’s Hotel Zags in early September. 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

Through Oct 3, Various times & locations, FREE–$200

PICA’s annual two-week performance art party wraps up this week, with a hybrid in-person/streaming program of mind-bending works. Check out our top picks for this year’s festival here, check out Rebecca Jacobson's recap of her experience with one of the festival's more intimate works here, and stay tuned for more coverage as the festival comes in for a landing.

Visual Art

The Known World

Noon–5 p.m. Thu–Sat through Oct 2, Blue Sky Gallery, FREE

In this exhibition, photographer Gary Burnley creates surreal collages that layer periods, identities, and styles on top of one another, forcing unlike signifiers to coexist in a single frame. The result is bright, engaging, and provocative, teasing out questions of power and our aesthetic relationship to it without putting anyone to sleep. Move fast; the exhibition closes this Saturday.

Lavender House

Noon–5 p.m. Fri–Sun and by appointment, through Oct 17, Oregon Contemporary, FREE

LA org Marathon Screenings brings video/audio/performance artist Sarah Rara’s latest work to Portland in this exhibition at North Portland’s recently renamed Oregon Contemporary. Inspired by video and audio of Rara’s interactions with her landlords captured over several years, Lavender House is a video essay about a tenant’s relationship to a vacant building in their neighborhood, kept empty by real estate red tape. The work will go on view this Friday, and Rara will speak at an opening reception next Saturday, October 2.


11 a.m.–6 p.m. Thu–Sat and by appointment through 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.

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