25 Arts Events to Check Out in Portland This Fall

Time-Based Art Festival, The Moth Mainstage, and More
September 9, 2021

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Compelling storytellers at The Moth Mainstage will weave unscripted, first-person tales.

Hot vax summer turned out to be lukewarm at best, but with artists back on tour, festivals adopting hybrid models, and venues requiring proof of vaccination, this fall stands in stark contrast to last fall when we were all hunkered down using our favorite music, podcasts, and various other media to stay sane. The arts world is back at it, bringing communities together with that special spark of connection that happens through shared experiences. To keep you supplied with a steady dose of culture, we’ve rounded up the most noteworthy arts events just around the corner, from PICA’s Time-Based Art Festival to The Moth Mainstage, and from Thundercat to Last Podcast on the Left.


Dan + Shay: The (Arena) Tour
Country-pop duo Dan + Shay have won three consecutive Grammy Awards for best country duo/group performance and they're showing no signs of slowing down with their biggest tour yet. The pair recently collaborated with Carrie Underwood on a cover of "Only Us" for the upcoming film adaptation of Dear Evan Hansen.
Moda Center, Lloyd District (Thurs Oct 28)

Japanese Breakfast with Luna Li
The solo project of South Korea-born and Eugene-raised musician Michelle Zauner, Japanese Breakfast’s third album Jubilee was released in June, a study in joy contrasting with her previous two albums. While you mark down the days till the concert on your calendar, check out Zauner’s other talents in the form of her debut memoir Crying in H Mart, which was released in April to critical acclaim (and already set to be adapted into a film).
Crystal Ballroom, West End (Tues Sept 28)

Harry Styles: Love on Tour
Pop rock icon and fashion darling Harry Styles will croon singles from his second solo studio album Fine Line to what is sure to be an arena chock-a-block (there’s some British slang for you) with hordes of screaming fans. Styles will be supported by indie queen and former Rilo Kiley frontwoman Jenny Lewis.
Moda Center, Lloyd District (Mon Nov 8)

Portugal. The Man
Even though they *technically* haven’t released a new album since their 2017 hit Woodstock, we feel it still: the pull towards this band’s catchy pop-rock tunes. Transplants from Alaska, we’ve readily adopted PTM as Portland’s own. They’ve made it easy to love them with their infectious hooks, commitment to activism and philanthropy, and fierce support of the Blazers.  
Edgefield, Troutdale (Fri Oct 15)

Hip hop duo $uicideboy$ was founded in 2014 by cousins Ruby da Cherry and $crim. The duo found success on Soundcloud, gaining attention for their self-produced beats and no holds barred lyrics which often reference substance abuse and suicide. They'll be joined on tour by the likes of slowthai, TURNSTILE, and Chief Keef.
Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Lloyd District (Tues Nov 2)

The soundtrack to a good time, the funky bass slaps of Thundercat have been sought after for collaboration by the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Childish Gambino, Erykah Badu, and other legends. His latest tour will include material from his Grammy-winning album It Is What It Is and support from the buzzworthy Channel Tres.
Crystal Ballroom, West End (Fri Nov 3)


Hasan Minhaj - The King’s Jester
With his weekly show Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj tragically cancelled (curse you, Netflix!), we can't wait to see what this two-time Peabody Award-winning comic does next. With all the sh*t going down in the world right now, Minhaj is sure to inject a dose of humor into reverent takes during his live show.
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, South Park Blocks (Thurs Nov 11)

Ronny Chieng: The Hope You Get Rich Tour
Malaysian-Singaporean-Australian-American comedian and actor Ronny Chieng, a senior correspondent on The Daily Show, will crack audiences up with his unique perspective on Asian culture. Fresh from a cameo in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Chieng is set to co-write an action-comedy film with Daily Show collaborator Sebastian DiNatale.
Aladdin Theater, Brooklyn (Fri Dec 10)

Trevor Noah: Back to Abnormal World Tour
South African-born comedian Trevor Noah's insightful and tactful YouTube videos responding to the myriad dumpster fires of 2020 gave us a virtual shoulder to lean on during lockdown, and by the sound of his new tour's name, he's sure to provide comedic insight to the dumpster fires of this year. 
Moda Center, Lloyd District (Sat Nov 27)


Last Podcast on the Left: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again Tour
Covering topics ranging from serial killers to UFO sightings to fan-submitted creepypastas, this long-running podcast features recurring characters voiced by its hosts and provides a comedic take on all things horrific be they real or imagined. Try not to squirm in your seat. 
Revolution Hall, Buckman (Dec 2-3, 5)

Live Wire presents: Paul F. Tompkins, Deep Sea Diver, and more!
Luke Burbank hosts this radio variety show which brings guests to the airwaves for organic heartfelt conversations, live music, and more. Comedian and podcast royalty Paul F. Tompkins and Seattle-based four-piece Deep Sea Diver will make an appearance in this edition. 
Alberta Rose Theatre, Alberta Arts District (Thurs Dec 16)


Alyssa Edwards: Memoirs of a Traveling Queen
This autobiographical show will shine a spotlight on tongue poppin’ drag legend Alyssa Edwards as you’ve never seen her. Expect costume changes, wigs aplenty, and stunning choreography while the dancing queen divulges stories from her childhood, her appearances on Drag Race, and beyond.
Aladdin Theater, Brooklyn (Oct 17-18)

Frida… A Self Portrait
Brazilian playwright and actress Vanessa Severo takes on double duty as the writer and performer of this intimate portrait of iconic Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. "Infused with music, movement, and Kahlo's words," the one-woman show bears witness to the artist's extraordinary life on the eve of her death.
The Armory, Pearl District (Oct 9-Nov 7)

The Hip Hop Nutcracker
A remixed and re-imagined production of the Christmas classic, the Hip Hop Nutcracker brings dynamic dance performances, contemporary visuals, and a DJ to audiences familiar with the ballet and Tchaikovsky's iconic score. The legendary MC Kurtis Blow, one of hip hop's founding fathers, will open the show with a set.
Keller Auditorium, Downtown (Tues Nov 16)

Jesus Christ Superstar
Andrew Lloyd Webber's Jesus Christ Superstar, often regarded as his best musical, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. The rock opera depicts the last week of Jesus's life as seen through the eyes of Judas. This traveling Broadway production won the 2017 Olivier Award for Best Musical Revival.
Keller Auditorium, Downtown (Sept 28-Oct 3)

Portland’s Singing Christmas Tree
In a state flush with forests, of course we would have a tradition called the Singing Christmas Tree. The ultimate Christmas carolers return with new show-stopping numbers, special guest artists Katie Harman and the Jefferson Dancers, and an appearance from Ol' Saint Nick himself. Performing traditional and contemporary holiday music, the youth and adult choirs will fill you with cheer.
Keller Auditorium, Downtown (Nov 26-Dec 5)


North Coast: New Work by Lisa Congdon
In her third solo exhibit at contemporary art gallery Stephanie Chefas Projects, internationally known artist and author Lisa Congdon presents a bevy of new work chronicling her love for the Oregon Coast in an exploration of its colors, flora and fauna, foods, rural heritage, and landscapes.
Stephanie Chefas Projects, Central Eastside (Oct 9-Nov 6)

Part of Converge 45's Portland's Memorials and Monuments Project (PMMP), this exhibition starts a discourse on the intersection of artistry and civic engagement, imploring the public to ask not just who gets memorialized but by whom, when, why, and how? Explore a collection of artwork, projects, and proposals from over 30 artists who examine the past and future of public monuments.
Skanska Building, Pearl District (Aug 25-Oct 9)

Sharita Towne: APEX
See work by transdisciplinary Sharita Towne, whom you might know for her 2019 initiative A Black Art Ecology (a project dedicated to "creating, reclaiming, and redefining spaces for Black art and audiences in Portland"), in PAM's APEX gallery.
Portland Art Museum, South Park Blocks (July 2021-July 2022)

Time-Based Art Festival
If quarantine had you asking "what is time?" within the last year, then perhaps PICA's cutting-edge annual contemporary art festival can answer that question. Expand your mind by taking in experimental art by local and international artists ranging from ephemeral performance pieces to print projects to artist lectures.
PICA, Kenton (Sept 16-Oct 3)


Dan Savage’s HUMP! Film Festival
Keep it in your pants during this delightfully dirty program curated by prolific sex columnist Dan Savage. The HUMP! Film Festival features an indie showcase of sex-positive short films running the gamut of body sizes, shapes, ages, sexualities, genders, kinks, and fetishes.
Revolution Hall, Buckman (Fri Oct 1)

Portland Queer Film Festival
Championing queer perspectives and filmmakers, the festival celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. Short, feature, and documentary films from all over the world are set to be screened in an effort to "educate, inspire, and intrigue," with proceeds from the event going towards the local queer community.
Cinema 21, Nob Hill (Oct 1-7)


Jonathan Franzen in Conversation with Maria Semple
Crossroads, Jonathan Franzen's first novel in his new "magnum opus trilogy" A Key to All Mythologies, tells the story of a multi-generational Midwestern family, “mirroring the preoccupations and dilemmas of the United States from the Vietnam War to the 2020s.” The acclaimed novelist and essayist will be joined in conversation by fellow author Maria Semple.
Virtual (Tues Oct 12)

The Moth Mainstage in Portland
This critically acclaimed event series from New York nonprofit The Moth highlights the art of unscripted, first-person storytelling centered around a common theme. Each Mainstage show features five speakers, which may include renowned personalities, previous StorySLAM winners, and folks completely new to the Moth stage.
Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, South Park Blocks (Tues Dec 14)

Portland Book Festival
Offering something for readers of all ages, the Portland Book Festival stacks a lineup of author talks, in-person writing workshops, and more. The bulk of this year's festival will be virtual, leading up to an in-person day at the Portland Art Museum to cap off the week.
Virtual and Portland Art Museum, South Park Blocks (Nov 8-13)