Cheap & Easy

The Best Bang for Your Buck Events in Portland This Weekend: May 10–12, 2024

St. Johns Bizarre, Shannon & The Clams, and More Cheap & Easy Events Under $15
May 10, 2024
St. Johns Bizarre is bringing bands like Team Dresch, the Minus 5, and No Age to the heart of the quirky neighborhood. (St. Johns Bizarre via Facebook)
The weather's heating up this weekend, and we've got a hot and fresh batch of events to bask in, from The 15th Annual St. Johns Bizarre to a Shannon & The Clams Dance Party and from Unique Markets Portland to the Animayhem OVA Festival. For more ideas, check out our guide to the top events of the week and our Mother's Day guide.

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Slumber Party Past Event List
Throw on your bunny slippers and beg your mom to give you a ride to Kickstand's Slumber Party, a jumbo bag of gummy bears in the form of improvised sleepover scenes. Kickstand CVLT members Jones Pitsker, Lauren Sigler, Steven Marocco, Jerilyn Armstrong, and others will team up for the hormone-raging nostalgia fest—expect prank calls, Truth or Dare sessions, and Phish Food binges. I'm bringing my e-Kara. LC
(Kickstand Comedy, Ladd's Addition, $10-$20)


Old Town Lantern Lighting Past Event List
It's going to be hot this weekend, so if you’re looking for evening activities to head to when the temperature is more comfortable, I suggest joining the Old Town Community Association and Portland Chinatown Museum in celebrating the installation of 80 Chinese and Japanese lanterns over NW Third Avenue. This symbol of Old Town-Chinatown’s hope and resilience will be toasted with a performance from the Lee Association Lion Dancers and complimentary drinks from A-Z Wineworks and Lionheart Kombucha. The lantern project is a pilot for creating a new permit that allows neighborhoods to string lights overhead, so the more people who show up to appreciate the lanterns, the more likely the permit gets approved and we see gorgeous lighting brightening our streets. SL
(Portland Chinatown Museum, Old Town-Chinatown, free)


Forty Feet Tall, Nonbinary Girlfriend, and Bijoux Cone Past Event List
When indie-rock quartet Forty Feet Tall started out, they were Los Angeles teens obsessed with post-punk and grunge. Nowadays, the Portland-based band wows crowds with their psychedelic and punk-infused jams. Expect to hear songs from their latest album, BOIL, alongside dream pop outfit Nonbinary Girlfriend and synth-pop gem Bijoux Cone. AV
(Mississippi Studios, Boise, $15)


Shannon & The Clams Dance Party - A Celebration for Their New Album Release Past Event List
Led by powerhouse vocalist Shannon Shaw, beloved garage rock band Shannon & The Clams is back with a new album, The Moon Is In The Wrong Place⁠, which was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys. Blossoming out of tragedy, the album reckons with the grief that followed after Shaw's fiance was killed in a car accident just weeks before their wedding. “We all felt the urgency of making something that reckoned with this meteor that smashed into our planet,” keyboardist Will Sprott said in a press statement. “This is the most focused record we’ve ever done, as far as everything coming from a singular traumatic event.” The band will celebrate the album's release with a joint DJ set of pop, oldies, soul, glam, and garage bops while you dance. Fingers crossed that they play some tracks from the new album, too. AV
(The Showdown, Hosford-Abernethy, $15-$20)


Ceasefire: Aaron Hankins Past Event List
Self-taught artist Aaron Hankins will present an "endurance and protest art installation" in Ceasefire, which tracks each day of the ongoing genocide in Gaza through daily paintings of watermelons, a symbol of Palestinian solidarity. Hankins's paintings (created on the backs of USPS mailers) are full of symbolism—the watermelon seeds "denote numerical order and serve as a physical log of the days at unrest." The paintings are stitched together in a growing banner. Hankins will lead ceasefire demonstrations in the gallery for the exhibition's duration. LC
(One Grand Gallery, Buckman, free; closing)

Moon Rabbit: Jean Isamu Nagai and Ash Wyatt Past Event List
Both Jean Isamu Nagai and Ash Wyatt make tremendously textured work, evoking abstracted landscapes where there may be none. Nagai’s mystical, pointillistic color field paintings reference the subtle interconnectedness of moments in time. Wyatt’s high-contrast images are made of soft materials like horsehair, wool, cotton, and vintage linens, and channel the natural spaces their ancestors traversed without specificity. Curator Morgan Ritter unites their work for this show, overlapping the artist's respective approaches of using tactile, painstaking process to capture images of the infinite. PORTLAND MERCURY CONTRIBUTOR ASHLEY GIFFORD PETERSON
(ARTspace, Lake Oswego, free; closing)



Cultural Immersion Saturdays Remind List
Lan Su's Cultural Immersion Days will pepper AANHPI Heritage Month with opportunities to learn more about AANHPI traditions. The series kicks off on May 18 with a focus on Thailand, followed by the Pacific Islands and South Asian cultures on May 18 and May 25. Local cultural organizations will use the gardens as a backdrop for performances, talks, workshops, and family-friendly activities. The events are all free with garden admission, and you can grab a treat from the tranquil, newly renamed Yun Shui Teahouse while you're there. LC
(Lan Su Chinese Garden, Old Town-Chinatown, $0-$14)

I Am An American Live: Stories of Exclusion and Belonging Past Event List
The Immigrant Story will present I Am an American Live, an evening of Asian American storytelling and a musical performance by the Minidoka Swing Band. The event is part of ongoing programming by the Oregon Rises Above Hate coalition, planned in observance of AANHPI Heritage Month. The show's title, I Am An American, became a rallying cry after Japanese Americans were imprisoned in internment camps in WWII. While trends of xenophobia and discrimination continue, the event speaks to the strength of Asian Americans in the face of generations of adversity. LC
(Patricia Reser Center for the Arts, Beaverton, free)


That's What She Said: A Benefit for Black & Beyond the Binary Collective Past Event List
Queer feminist comedy collective That's What She Said will return to sprout some springtime wisecracks and bask in the season with a bouquet of much-needed laughs. Expect to hear from local faves Armaan Singh, Sara Nienabar, Samhita Reddy, and others. Best part? All proceeds from the event will be donated to Black & Beyond the Binary Collective, a nonprofit that "builds the leadership, healing, and safety of Black-African transgender, queer, nonbinary, two-spirit, and intersex (TQN2SI+) Oregonians." LC
(Siren Theater, Boise, $15)


The 15th Annual St. Johns Bizarre Past Event List
Portland has plenty of spring festivals, but few are as cheap (free!) and jam-packed with talent as the St. Johns Bizarre. Now in its 15th year, the Bizarre is a treasure chest of entertainment, crafts, and food all centered around the annual St. Johns Parade. While you happily chow down on eats from local food vendors, don’t miss out on the lineup of live music, which includes highlights like queercore luminaries Team Dresch, indie rock outfit the Minus 5, noise rock duo No Age, dream pop band Growing Pains, and plenty more! AV
(St. Johns Plaza, St. Johns, free)


Blood Simple Past Event List
Joel and Ethan Coen's debut feature Blood Simple is a sharp, penetrating, career-launching noir that introduced the world to the brothers' signature style of unorthodox black comedy. Frances McDormand stars in the '85 Texas thriller, which follows a grody bar owner who hires a private eye to tail his wife. Pauline Kael called it "cruel and ghoulish," which perked up my ears—the Coens can tackle dark topics, but they're typically more playful about it. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10-$12)

Gummo in 35mm Past Event List
Gummo's grimy, feel-bad nature is part of its charm—Harmony Korine's '97 flick was named the worst film of the year by the New York Times, which is exactly why I love it. Foretelling what would become Korine's long career of weirdo subversion, the film follows the residents of a forgotten Ohio town filled with bigots, hedonists, and perverts. But Korine's goal isn't just shock value; he always makes an effort to humanize his characters, no matter how grody. (Chloe Sevigny's in this one, if you need a more palatable reason to check it out.) LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10-$12)


Archaeology Roadshow Past Event List
I didn't have cable TV as a kid, so instead, I parked it in front of our old rabbit-eared television set and found myself enthralled by the quiet magnetism that was PBS's Antiques Roadshow. This is not quite the same thing, but I'm fairly certain it appeals to the same demographic (aka nerds, aka me). The free, fam-friendly Archaeology Roadshow, which focuses on the archaeology of food this year, invites visitors to bring their own ancient objects—so whatever stone tools, pottery, and animal bones you have lying around—for expert interpretation. (Unlike Antiques Roadshow, financial appraisal won't be offered.) The event will also feature salmon, elk, and wappato bites. LC
(PSU's Hoffman Hall, South Park Blocks, free)


Mississippi Records Presents: Qwanqwa with DJ Prince Pauper Past Event List
Brought together by their passion for Ethiopian music, Addis Ababa-based ensemble Qwanqwa embraces experimentation while staying true to Ethiopia's rich musical traditions. The band employs traditional instruments like the masinko (one-stringed fiddle), kebero drums, and the krar (electric lyre) while utilizing psychedelic wah-wah filters and punk-style solos. Don't miss the ensemble on a rare US tour alongside Ethiopian dance music expert DJ Prince Pauper. AV
(Turn! Turn! Turn!, Humboldt, $15–$20 sliding scale)


Spectrum Art Market Remind List
Pride Month is fast approaching, so get on top of things and grab some new gear at this LGBTQ2SIA+ pop-up market, where local artists hawk ceramics, art, textiles, apparel, jewelry, and accessories that are rainbow-hued and sparkly. It'll all go down at Q Center, the largest LGBTQ+ community center in the Pacific Northwest. LC
(Q Center, Boise, free)


Hope Blooms Past Event List
Stroll down Sandy to Sonny's House of Tattoos and Treasures for this springy celebration, which brings together 20 artists showcasing bright risograph works. (The opening promises "an evening of sweet thoughts and bright dreams." Aww!) Curious about risograph printing? You can make layered, graphic magic happen at Outlet a few feet away. LC
(Sonny's House of Tattoos and Treasures, Kerns, free)

Mediums: Ricky Bearghost, Gemma Browne, Mike Paré Past Event List
If you haven't hit Helen's Costume yet, make this weekend the one that you stop by—the home gallery consistently shows up with some of the most interesting exhibitions in the city. Curator Steve Brown does it again with Mediums, which presents works by Ireland-based Gemma Browne, local fave Ricky Bearghost, and Milwaukee's Mike Paré. The three artists act as "mediums," or conduits, channeling their subject matter like funky, artistic antennae. The gallery is a few blocks away from Mt. Tabor, so you can head there afterward to think about what you saw. LC
(Helen's Costume, Montavilla, free; closing)



Family Fun Sundays Remind List
Lan Su is celebrating AANHPI Heritage Month every Sunday in May with special family-oriented activities. On Mother's Day, parents and kids can work together at a fuzzy dragon craft station to create ronghua, traditional Chinese velvet flowers. During an overlapping session, learn how to create journals through an art book demo. On future Sundays, families can learn how to play wei qi (aka Go), learn about the kimono and its traditions, and brush up on Chinese conversational skills. SL
(Lan Su Chinese Garden, Old Town-Chinatown, $0-$14)


Animayhem OVA Festival Past Event List
Do the words "deep-cut anime" perk up your ears? Keep reading. The first OVA, or Original Video Animation, was created by legendary director Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), and the format's spirit of experimentation has inspired anime auteurs ever since. (OVA films and miniseries are direct-to-home video releases, granting writers and directors a unique level of creative freedom to deepen plots and character development.) So, a key aspect of OVAs is that they're never screened in theaters...but the AniMayhem OVA Festival changes that. This is perhaps your one chance to catch a curated marathon of four of the "best, most cult classic OVA titles to be released throughout the '80s and '90s" on a big screen. Go forth with your geeky selves—and don't miss the pre-screening "mini anime convention" with merch by local artists and vendors. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10-$12)

Mommie Dearest with Donatella Nobody // SOCIAL CINEMA Past Event List
Starring Faye Dunaway as an off-the-rails movie star, the creepy-crawly cult classic Mommie Dearest unveils one of cinema's freakiest abusive moms—you'll definitely be rooting for her adopted daughter in this callous-yet-compelling tale. It's campy wickedness at its finest, and local pearl-clutcher Donatella Nobody will bring a deadly dose of drag elegance to the screening. LC
(Tomorrow Theater, Richmond, $15)


Ilyas Ahmed, Jonathan Sielaff, Patricia Wolf, and DJ The Garbage Man Past Event List
Ilyas Ahmed is best known as a member of the long-running instrumental rock band Grails. However, as a solo artist, he leans into minimal folk compositions à la Loren Connors. His latest solo release, A DREAM OF ANOTHER, evokes its meditative title with emotive guitar compositions that fade into a misty haze of fuzz filters. He will be joined by experimental ambient artists Jonathan Sielaff, Patricia Wolf, and DJ The Garbage Man. AV
(Holocene, Buckman, $13)



Aggro Dr1ft Past Event List
I've been a Harmony Korine fan (and apologist—looking at you, Trash Humpers) since I was a teen, believing wholly that Gummo and Kids were peak cinema. Korine has always seemed unconcerned with the line between experimental and wide-release film, and this typically works in his favor. Aggro Dr1ft seems hellbent on toeing that line again; the first project released under his EDGLRD banner (lol) was described as having "all the commerciality of penis cancer, looking like the ugliest fucking Playstation 1 game you’ve ever seen" by Indiewire. Here's what I know: The film exclusively uses infrared photography, Travis Scott is in it, and there's some sort of hitman-against-crime lord plot set against a psychedelic swirl of the Miami underworld. Um, sign me up, I think? LC
(Cinema 21, Nob Hill, $9-$11, Friday-Sunday)

Challengers Remind List
Italian auteur Luca Guadagnino's latest follows Zendaya as Tashi, a prodigy tennis player-turned-coach whose training transformed her husband into a national champion. Things get weird and maybe horny when she forces him to play a pro-tournament "Challenger" event alongside her former boyfriend. Do I care about tennis? No, of course not!! But I don't ask for much—Zendaya and a psychosexual plotline are enough for me. LC
(Cinema 21, Nob Hill, $9-$11, Friday-Sunday)

CineVox presents Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival Past Event List
Cinevox, Oregon's leading dance film festival, will present the LA-based Dare to Dance in Public Film Festival (D2D) this year. The international film fest centers "screen dance" in public forums—anything outside of a typical studio or stage, basically—to explore place and space. "D2D presents films that use dance as an urgent, visceral, universal language about what it is to be human and alive in the world today," the promotional materials report. The three-day festival includes on-site performances before each screening, so you'll get your cinema and live performance fix. LC
(BodyVox Dance Center, Northwest Portland, $15, Friday-Saturday)

Civil War Past Event List
Alex Garland's latest, Civil War, is A24's most expensive in-house production to date, following a group of military-embedded journos headed to DC "before rebel factions descend upon the White House." Honestly, I'm wary of how he'll handle this one, although Garland's work does tend to thrive in dystopian settings. But Kirsten Dunst stars as a photojournalist, which is reason enough to watch. Also, Garland may or may not be retiring from directing ("I’m going to take a break for the foreseeable future," he clarified recently), so if you're a fan of the filmmaker behind Annihilation and Men, you should plan to let his new one marinate. LC
(Hollywood Theatre, Hollywood District, $10-$12, Friday-Sunday)

Evil Does Not Exist Remind List
Ryusuke Hamaguchi’s follow-up to the Murakami-inspired Oscar winner Drive My Car follows a father and daughter who spend their days gathering wild foods for a local udon restaurant. Their livelihood might be threatened when a city agency plans to create a bougie "glamping" site not far from their rustic hamlet. (Fuck glampers, am I right?) Evil Does Not Exist won the 2023 Venice Silver Lion; I'm intrigued by the film's quiet, snowy cinematography and its naturalistic approach. LC
(Cinema 21, Nob Hill, $9-$11, Friday-Sunday)


Unique Markets Portland Past Event List
Mother's Day gift procrastinators, this one's for you! Shop from over 125 up-and-coming designers, artists, and brands at this highly curated market. Tickets include a free tote bag, but we recommend bringing a few extra for all the goodies you'll pick up. This market fashions itself as a festival, with DIY activities, a family fun zone, arcade games, a photo booth, DJ sets, and more. There's so much to choose from you'll be buying gifts for yourself, your mom, your friend, and your friend's mom. SL
(Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Lloyd District, $12-$40, Saturday-Sunday)


Changing the Narrative: Epilogue Past Event List
Featuring new works by Arantza Peña Popo, Christina Tran, Daniela Ortiz Mendez, Jai Milx, Kacy McKinney, Kimberléa Ruffu, Liz Yerby, and many others, Changing the Narrative: Epilogue explores homelessness research through multimedia. Comics, textiles, ceramics, installations, and collage works will be exhibited alongside the original 10 comics from Changing the Narrative. Best part? "Sales of the exhibition book will benefit the Independent Resource Center, and sales of the third edition of Changing the Narrative (with new content from Street Roots vendors) will benefit Street Roots," ILY2 explains. LC
(ILY2 too, Lloyd District, free, Friday-Saturday; closing)

The circus and the beach Past Event List
Elbow Room, a local arts organization providing material support, mentorship, and studio space to artists experiencing intellectual and developmental disabilities, has a longstanding relationship with PICA, and this exhibition curated by PICA's artistic director Kristan Kennedy is the latest exciting art event to blossom from the partnership. The circus and the beach, presented at ILY2, features works by Tess Bidelspach, Elmeater Morton, and Mohamed Omar, all of whom work at Elbow Room. Don't miss the April 6 opening for a musical performance by Omar at 2:30 pm, and if you (like me) are totally enamored by Elbow Room's artists, pop by its SE Madison location on April 7 for another exhibition: A Berry, A Boot, A Building, A Blue Door: New Works by Mike Young. LC
(ILY2, Pearl District, free, Friday-Saturday; closing)

Heidi Schwegler: Existential Action Thriller Past Event List
I've followed Heidi Schwegler's art practice for years, and it's not just because I used to be her catsitter. Schwegler alters and re-casts everyday objects to create eerie integrations and uncanny hybrid forms, prompting endless questions and curiosities. In Existential Action Thriller, the inquiries continue—a hand-braided cotton rug purchased on eBay melds with a strand of hair, a cat’s claw, remnants of a corn chip, and a splash of wine. It all sounds pretty typical within a domestic sphere, but don't be fooled. "Our domestic objects absorb memory as the events that make up our lives are forever crystalized in their materiality," says Schwegler. I believe it. LC
(PCC Sylvania Campus, Southwest Portland, free, Friday-Sunday)

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