Thanksgiving may be yet to come, but that won't stop the steady forward march of the Christmas machine. If you're the type that bought a carton of peppermint ice cream the day after Halloween and already has "All I Want for Christmas Is You" stuck in your Mariah-loving head, you'll be pleased to know that many of the Christmas shows around town open this weekend and the next. Check out our picks for the four brand new shows (three world premieres) that are taking a risk to invigorate the traditional holiday fare, plus our comprehensive guide to Portland's holiday shows.
Nov 22, Wonder Ballroom
The Auto-Tuned and effects-laden vocals of front woman Channy Leaneagh are the most distinctive element of Polica’s synth-heavy sound, but with a propulsive rhythm section, R&B-influenced songwriting, and buzz-building live shows, this bold Minneapolis band isn’t hiding behind anything.
Nov 22, Alberta Rose Theater
Portland folk troubadour Holcombe Waller first gained exposure with the 2001 indie pop album Extravagant Gesture, but his career over the last decade or so has seen him shift towards multi-disciplinary performance, perhaps most notably his PICA-commissioned, touring amalgam of theater, video installation, and folk concert, Into the Dark Unknown: The Hope Chest. Following fast on the heels of his October 19 debut with the Oregon Symphony (read our review), Waller will preveiw Wayfinders, an entirely new song cycle he will be developing into a song-theater piece over the next year. Backed by Portland new music ensemble FearNoMusic, the piece explores a question that has troubled mankind since the beginning: where are we? Read our profile of Waller in preview of his last multi-media show, Surfacing.
Nov 23, Doug Fir Lounge
The Portland indie-rock veterans, including drummer Janet Weiss of Sleater-Kinney and Stephen Malkmus' band the Jicks, celebrate 20 prolific years with a new double album, Mole City. They're on an extensive national tour that began in early October, and that tour ends Sunday night with a hometown show at the Doug Fir. Be there. Everyone else will.
Nov 21-24, Newmark Theatre
In this White Bird–presented performance of its newest work, Nuit Blanche, French-Argentine dance troupe Union Tanguera will transport viewers to a tango club in the hours when late night and early morning become as indistinguishable as one dancer’s body from her partner’s.
Thru Dec 1, The Headwaters
New Review The experimental performance troupe Liminal starts out true to Thornton Wilder’s script, with a bare stage, but then layers on music, closed-circuit live video, and other multimedia magic until we’re immersed in their trademark multisensory world. "The avant-garde theater transforms the American classic into something searingly modern in one of the most thought-provoking shows of the season..." Read our full review.
Fall of the Band
Through Nov 24, Action/Adventure Theater
It's the last weekend to catch Action/Adventure Theater's second installment of their popular comedy, Fall of the Band. In five weekly installments, each running Thursday through Sunday, the company presents the story of hilariously-named fictional band Ghost Dad. Pre-determined plot points are enacted with improvised dialogue for a theater experience that is unique night to night.
Nov 9–30, Brody Theater
In this quirky fusion of scripted theater and improvisation, unfinished short plays are given to the cast moments before it appears on stage. The character descriptions are then read to the audience, who cast the parts. The players perform until the script runs out, at which point they complete the play improvisationally. What could possibly go wrong?
Portland Baroque Orchestra
Nov 22, First Baptist Church; Nov 24, Kaul Auditorium
For this program of concerti grossi—pieces that pass the music back and forth between a small group of soloists and the full orchestra—Matthew Halls, the Oregon Bach Festival’s artistic director, will lead the orchestra and play harpsichord simultaneously. How’s that for multitasking?
Metropolitan Youth Symphony
Nov 24, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall
The opening concert of MYS’s 40th anniversary season will feature Music Director Andres Lopera conducting the MYS Symphony Orchestra as they perform Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5, Mussorgsky’sNight on Bald Mountain, Bizet’s Intermezzo from Carmen, and Zequinha de Abreu’s Tico Tico no Fuba. The show will also include performances by the Concert Orchestra and the Interlude Orchestra.
The Last Unicorn
Nov 23–24, Hollywood Theater
This cult classic fantasy film, based on the novel of the same name by Peter S. Beagle, was animated by the same Japanese artists who would become the core of famed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki’s Studio Ghibli. Now, a remastered digital print is being taken on a nationwide tour, and is showing for two nights at the Hollywood Theatre. Best of all, Beagle himself will be in attendance to meet fans and sign books. This movie haunted our youth, so make sure to pass it on to your children if you think they can brave the fire bull (and maybe even if they can't).
BOOKS AND TALKS
Nov 21, Powell's
The Pok Pok chef-owner does Powell’s to promote his first cookbook (yes, the instructions for the famously cult-forming Ike’s fish-sauce wings are in there, if you’re brave enough to navigate them). He will be in conversation with Portland Monthly's own Food Critic, Karen Brooks.
Back Fence PDX
Nov 22, Mission Theatre; Nov 23, Disjecta
The special pre-Thanksgiving edition of live storytelling show Back Fence PDX is appropriately themed “Recipe for Disaster,” and storytellers this time around include Lauren Weedman (a critically acclaimed solo performer from LA), and Julie Sabatier (PDX, creator/host of the radio show Destination DIY). Check out our interview with Weedman and our review of her recent one-woman show, The Peoples’ Republic of Portland. The next night, Back Fence hosts their recurring Russian Roulette show, which they bill as something like truth and dare: one of eight storytellers is randomly drawn to spin a wheel full of storytelling prompts. They can keep their prompt or pass, but once they decide, they have only five minutes to come up with a true story based on that prompt. Weedman will be back, as well as Leather Storrs (PDX, Chef at Noble Rot), and Arthur Bradford (PDX, Emmy Nominated Filmmaker), among others.
Artist Afternoon with Nicholas Nyland and Isaac Layman
Nov 23, Portland Art Museum
Join these two artists, among those selected for the 2013 Northwest Contemporary Art Awards, as they lead tours through their respective galleries as well as present back-to-back talks discussing their work in the context of their lives and creative practices.