The Best Things to Do in Portland This Fourth of July Weekend: July 3-5 2020

July 2, 2020

A brief history lesson worth repeating every year: July 4 commemorates the Declaration of Independence, which freed the 13 American colonies from British rule in 1776, but which brought no relief to the millions of African Americans who would remain enslaved in the US for another hundred years, nor to the Indigenous tribes whose land was stolen by colonizers in 1492. This Fourth of July, while you're enjoying the extended weekend however you feel, please also make a point of supporting Black-owned restaurants and educating yourself on ways to stand against racism.

Jump to: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Friday, July 3

PDX Black Futures Protest
This protest action meets at Pioneer Courthouse Square at 1:30 and begins marching at 2:10 after performances and presentations by speakers, poets, and singers. Attendees are asked to wear a mask and practice social distancing as they march in all black to support grieving Black and Indigenous people for whom the Fourth of July isn't such a celebratory holiday.

The play that detonated Broadway and became a phenomenon unlike any the theater scene had seen for a very long time is finally coming to a screen near you. Disney, who had planned to release this filmed version of the original cast's 2016 performance next year, decided instead to drop this hip-hop re-imagining of American history on their new streaming platform for Fourth of July weekend. Lin-Manuel Miranda, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Leslie Odom, Jr., Daveed Diggs, Jonathan Groff, Anthony Ramos—finally, an opportunity to see them all right up close (closer than theater audiences ever got to) whenever you want.

Hannibal Buress
Hannibal's stand-up act is where his blatantly honest, borderline confrontational comedy shines the brightest. Catch some of that shine for yourself with this livestream debut (July 3, 6 pm) of his brand new special, Miami Nights.

Lost Horizon
The team responsible for Glastonbury's Shangri-La has come together to present this two-day arts-and-music fest (July 3-4, 7 am) unlike any other huge livestream event in at least one way: It's going to be completely in VR (and there's an accompanying recommended specs chart to make sure you can "attend" with your PC), so you can move through the environment while hearing tunes by Fatboy Slim, Carl Cox, Jamie Jones, and more.

John Lewis: Good Trouble
The late civil rights activist and Georgia congressman John Lewis fought for voting rights, gun control, healthcare reform, and immigration over the course of his long career. Using archival footage and interviews from his late years, Dawn Porter's documentary explores Lewis's childhood, his 1957 meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., and his lasting legacy on social justice movements of the present. Portions of the proceeds from VOD ticket sales will help support the Hollywood Theatre.

The Fourth of the Lie Protest
The organizers of this protest action put it best: "Custer doesn't deserve a park and we don't deserve police brutality." Spend the day before Independence Day (July 3, 1 pm, free) calling attention to the fact Portland still has a park named after a man who chose to spend his post Civil War days apologizing for the South and actively warring with Native Americans—and take a stand with Black Lives Matter against white supremacy and police brutality.

Elton John
If your primary frame of reference is “Hakuna Matata,” you maybe don’t realize that, for a few years in the ’70s, Elton John was MASSIVE—the biggest thing in music since the Beatles. And if a balding, bespectacled piano player seems an unlikely superstar, keep in mind that this was the fellow behind tunes like “Levon,” “The Bitch Is Back,” “All the Girls Love Alice,” and “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.” So let the sun come up (July 3, 9 am) on this chance to see him in his prime, with this rare recording of a 1976 Edinburgh concert. NED LANNAMANN

Zoigl-Lot Brew 'n' Q
For 2020's Fourth of July make good use of the Zoiglhaus parking lot, which has been converted into a safely socially distanced dining area. Order up some beers, down some BBQ grub, and enjoy live music all weekend long from 4pm-8pm.

The Black People Who Were Left Behind
Black Emotional and Mental Health Collective teams up with the Depressed While Black Insta to present "The Black People Who Were Left Behind: On Psychiatric Jails & Mental Illness," a conversation with Imade' Borha and Yolo Akili (July 3, 1 pm) about the ways Black people are often stranded at the intersection of prison, psychiatric care, and racism.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Deadpool
Drive-ins are probably the only way to get any sort of big-screen action back in your life without, you know, trapping yourself inside a dark box with other people while no vaccine exists and air conditioning is just circulating everyone's coughs, sneezes, and spittle into as many rooms as possible. Instead, you can pull up in your car, turn up your speakers, and let 99w fill your windshield with a Fourth of July double-feature that begins with the most money-making-est Star War ever, followed by the most money-making-est X-Men movie (even though it's not really an X-Men movie but hey). Screenings begin at 7pm every night of this holiday weekend.

PDX Elijah McClain Violin Vigil
An improvised tribute to Elijah McClain, a young Colorado man known for his friendliness and kindness, which extended to bowing in respect to almost everyone he ever met, and playing the violin to soothe kittens at a local animal shelter. He was murdered by Aurora police on his way home from buying his brother an iced tea at a corner market. This vigil (July 3, 7:30 pm) pays tribute to his life through music made by his favorite instrument. Donations will be directed to the Elijah McClain GoFundMe.

Saturday, July 4

Anti-Independence Day March
An opportunity to show Indigenous solidarity with Black lives, Black liberation, in reminding people that American independence is only possible due to a foundation of genocide, racism, enslavement, and theft. So while everyone else is barbecuing and waving sparklers, Indigenous youth, Black youth, and community organizers will be marching in the streets (July 4, 12:30 pm) to uplift voices that say Black Lives Matter. Attendees are asked to wear their regalia and allies are welcome.

Waterfront Blues Fest - On Air
Local treasure KBOO-FM is doing its part to transfer from the waterfront to your headphones (or speakers) the Portland tradition of getting a bunch of beer and BBQ in you, laying back in a lawn chair, and listening to rock, blues, funk, and R&B all day in the sun. Instead of heading downtown, post up on your porch or in your backyard, turn up KBOO, and listen as they broadcast the greatest hits, and behind-the-scenes tales of the Blues Fest, for your Fourth of July enjoyment.

Hip Hop Stands Up
The Portland Hip Hop community comes together for a special concert and protest action in front of the Justice Center on Independence Day (7 pm, free) to remind people that there should be a lot more to "celebrating" the 4th of July than just blowing up fireworks and waving a flag around, especially here in 2020, where our own police can't stop gassing, attacking, and imprisoning people for believing that Black Lives Matter. Speakers and Performers include Julius Powell, John Slaughter, Load B, C3, Sleep, Blacktacular, Roulette Delgato, Randall Wyatt, and more.

A Capitol Fourth
Distract yourself from the nonstop barrage of parking-lot explosives being set off by dipshit pyromaniacs on your block, lamely mimicking actual gun-and-mortar-fire for (???) reasons, scaring the hell out of your pets and generally making life miserable at 98db (and likely doing so for the next three weeks), by turning on this PBS tradition (July 4, 5 pm, free), where the fireworks will generally be better in every way, and performers like Vanessa Williams, Patti LaBelle, John Fogerty, The Temptations, and John Stamos will be lending their talents to the proceedings.

Oh My it's 4th of July w/ Annie Vergnetti & DJ Jen Siren
The Alberta Street Pub invites you to celebrate the 4th on their patio (6 pm, free) with music from Annie Vergnetti and DJ Jen Siren spinning afterwards. Or as they put it: "Bring your mask and shake your ass."

Gresham Stand Up
The youth-led community organization convenes again at the Gresham Arts Plaza on 401 NE Second in Gresham for a protest action to remind people that "Justice for all" still doesn't exist, and to discuss ways to ensure an equitable and just future for the Black community. The gathering starts at 7 pm.

Ridgefield 4th of July Celebration
More discerning fans of high-volume colorful explosions have traditionally headed north to Ridgefield to get their patriotic 'splosion-thirst slaked, but this year is a little different, what with that whole unending pandemic that nobody can get under control because people refuse to mask up and wash their hands before going out. Well, if you wish to replicate that Ridgefield experience safely, here you go! All the day-long fun you would normally have, but streamed to your TV, and involving YOU possibly streaming yourself to OTHER people's TVs! Visit the Facebook event page for a full schedule.

Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic
Team Luck shows its dedication to keeping their raucous 4th of July celebration going even in the days of pandemic by taking their traditional party online, starting with an episode of Prime cuts starring Chef Scott Roberts, and following that up with livestreams from Luck's Saloon and Chapel Stage, and closing the whole thing out with a concert film. Bottom Line: It's a chance to blaze up and hang out with Willie Nelson on Independence Day starting at 2:30 pm. Not bad.

Boston Pops
You might not normally listen to classical music performed by a world-class orchestra on the daily, but there's something about the 4th of July that demands the symphonic treatment, and the Boston Pops are a great way to indulge in some high-quality pomp and circumstance for Independence Day (July 4, 5 pm, free). Plus there'll probably be some pretty cool fireworks to watch.

Pedalpalooza: Stars & Stripes

Clark County 4th from the Fairgrounds
While Portland proper traditionally gathers around the waterfront for their celebration of big multi-colored 'splodeys, plenty of people in the Metro area prefer their fireworks at the fairgrounds—the Clark County fairgrounds in WA, that is. Ilani is teaming up with Fox 12 to present the fireworks in all their hi-def glory (10 pm, free). And as a bonus, all the people in your neighborhood setting off cheap bottle rockets and whatever other flammable trash they overpaid for in a tent outside Safeway will be providing the surround-sound for you (and your traumatized pets)! BEST OF BOTH WORLDS, BABY!

Sunday, July 5

Mic Crenshaw
Mic Crenshaw is a veteran emcee and staple of the Portland hip hop scene, having performed as a member of Hungry Mob, Cleveland Steamers, and Suckapunch. If you haven't heard him by now, you very much need to get a late pass and learn why he's (rightfully) become such a mythic figure in the community during this livestream brought to you by the Alberta Rose Theatre (7pm, $20).

Virtual Birdland
Arturo O'Farrill & the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra come together as one from locations as far flung as Madrid, LA, and NY, and bring the people good good music accompanied with live commentary and conversation every weekend. Funds benefit the ALJA Emergency Artist Fund.

The Color Purple
The Stranger's Charles Mudede calls Steven Spielberg's multiple-Oscar-winning adaptation of the famed Alice Walker novel a "beautifully brutal and soulful movie," and doesn't just think it's "better than the book," but is, in fact, Spielberg's best movie. Whoopi Goldberg stars as Celie, a bullied Southern black woman married to an abusive sharecropper (Danny Glover). Racism and spousal abuse make Celie's life hell, but her friendships with other black women help her emerge from purgatory. Stream it now on Hulu.

Bobby Bare Jr.
As the son of Country Music Hall of Famer Bobby Bare, Bare Jr. has Nashville DNA embedded in his bones, but his rock-solid and prolific output has established him as a force of his own. Catch him tonight on this special livestream (July 5, 7 pm, $5). CHIPP TERWILLIGER

The Eagles
ESPN (Chris Berman is a huge fan, and it's not like sports are happening for them to broadcast) shares this special presentation of this new concert film (July 5, 5 pm), capturing the legendary classic rock band on their 2018 North American tour, featuring Vince Gill and Deacon Frey joining Don Henley, Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmit at the Forum in Los Angeles.

Pickathon Presents: A Concert a Day - Cass McCombs
You can learn a lot about singer/songwriter Cass McCombs from the stories he weaves into his wistful, lovely songs. His 2019 album, Tip of the Sphere, is tinged with weirdness; one of its best tracks recounts a rambling, Melville-esque mystery about a robbery, an explosion, and a whaling ship. McCombs doesn’t let listeners get too romantic, though—later he sings drolly about an “American canyon/Where trucks and homes are bigger/And the cops are mostly white/And they have a recycling center.” Rock might be dead, but McCombs has found a way to reanimate it. ISABEL LYNDON

Kevin Selfe
An evening of blues, live, in-person, and safely socially distanced at the Blue Diamond (5 pm, free) from a Cascade Blues Association Hall-of-Famer.

Sinferno Cabaret
The weekly Dante's tradition moves online (8 pm, $10) because no pandemic can stop the burning Sinferno from continuing its spicy, saucy reign as the longest-running cabaret show on the West Coast.

One of Portland's longest running goth nights keeps going strong (and dark and goth and industrial as fuck) online (July 5, 9 pm) thanks to the darkwave powers of DJs Skully, SuffraGette Sally, and RetroFit.