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Professional Bull Riders in Portland Giveaway

September 29, 2009 7 comments
Professional Bull Riders in Portland

Professional Bull Riders in Portland

Yeeeeeeeeehaaaaaaaaaaw! Professional Bull Riding is coming to The Rose Garden this weekend (Friday Oct. 2nd & Saturday Oct 3rd) for an adrenalin packed roller coaster of action.

This is a major stop for the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) whose 40 city stop is building to a  huge PBR Built Ford Tough World Finals in Las Vegas where a $1,000,000 bonus will be awarded to the 2009 PBR World Champion.

The Portland stop will feature a star-studded line-up of athletes including reigning Portland champ and 2008 PBR World Champion Guilherme Marchi (Leme, SP, Brazil); hometown bull rider and fan favorite Ross Coleman (Molalla, Ore.); Oregon cowboys Cody Campbell (Summerville, Ore.) and Cody Ford (Stanfield, Ore.) and more!

On Portland is giving away a pair of tickets to the Friday Oct 2nd PBR event. All you need to do to enter is post your favorite cowboy/bull riding saying in this posts comments and we’ll pick a winner on Noon Oct 1st.

For more information on Professional Bull Riders in Portland:

Congrats to Chris Snethen winner of this giveaway!

Categories: Giveaways Tags:

Portland Opera La Boheme Live Blog

September 25, 2009 1 comment
La Boheme Live Blog

La Boheme Live Blog

Prologue:

Live Blogging is insanity. It’s the antithesis of well thought out and well reasoned criticism. When I regularly review a piece of art, theater or opera I let things sit, I chew on thoughts and impressions and then I synthesize it all down into a cohesive flow which tells a story in its own right. So this live blog isn’t meant to take the place of a true formal review it’s a completely different animal, a wild animal…

So why do it? Because it’s extremely challenging and exciting and gives you the reader a much different view to the whole experience. You get my unfiltered, unedited, off the cuff reactions to the things I see and hear. Often those things are brutally honest, and immanently immediate. Our live blog from last seasons’s production of Rigoletto was a ton of fun, and very well received. So I’ve decided to give it another go, this time with opera’s most frequently produced and beloved La Boheme. I will be updating this post after every act and then at the end of the show with our thoughts. I’ll also be twittering from the show @OnPortland. (and even broadcasting on UStream). Also because this is live, please excuse any typos, odd grammar and other omissions, I’ll do the very best we can, but time is not on our side.

Prelude:

With over 100 people in the company for La Boheme, the Portland Opera’s production is a huge undertaking. Add 25+ tech people, a dizzying array of props and then spread that over four acts and you’ve got one massive show.

As part of the Blogger’s Night at The Opera we were given a behind the scenes tour.

Here’s a pictorial look behind the scenes of  Portland Opera’s La Boheme:

Watch our behind the scenes tour from with production manager Laura Haskell Portland Opera’s La Boheme:

ACT I:

La Boheme Act I Mimi (Kelly Kaduce) and Rodolfo (Arturo Chacon-Cruz)

La Boheme Act I Mimi (Kelly Kaduce) and Rodolfo (Arturo Chacon-Cruz)

This is my first time seeing La Boheme (even though it’s one of the most popularly produced operas out there), but I can’t but help have a sense of deja vu. Knowing that Rent is based on this opera I had the parallel characters/timeline in my head. Wouldn’t it be cool to see Anthony Rapp or Adam Pascall doing the opera version? Even though they’re both fantastic singers I don’t know if they could handle the amazing lyrical load that Michael Todd Simpson (Marcello) and Arturo Chacón-Cruz (Rodolfo) both do.

The opening scene is pretty light and fun, it really gets going when Rodolfo (Arturo Chacón-Cruz) meets Mimi (Kelly Kaduce). Chacon-Cruz is the strongest singer of the bunch but the magic really happens when they sing “O soave fanciulla” (watch a video clip from the live production of this song). Together they are captivating, even when they trail off stage at the end of the act. Wherever they are going, we want to follow them.

The sets for Portland Opera’s La Boheme are fantastic. Since La Boheme is such a popular opera, Portland Opera had its pick of several sets and I think they made an excellent choice (The sets originate from the San Diego Opera and the costumes from San Francisco Opera). I really like how the set frames the space, it gives a sense of a city outside of the loft that Marcello and Rodolfo share without overpowering them. Also unlike Rigoletto I think the lighting is spot on here. Sets the scene and then keeps it. When Mimi and Rodolfo are doing their back and forth with their candles, the lighting matches it perfectly.

I’m also struck by the sheer number of props in this opera, they fill the stage and really help make it feel alive. It’s an interesting duality of a very operatic stage with sharp angles and dramatic spaces but one that has a subtle life to it. Act I’s staging is also pretty monochromatic but it’s done without feeling murky.

Musically the orchestra is extremely solid, they seem to really enjoy taking off with full gusto and La Boheme gives them ample opportunity to do just that. You can hear that when the music builds, the orchestra is happy to step in the spotlight and be the star.

Act I moves into Act II with out an intermission. It’s a huge stage transformation between acts and it’s executed well, without too long a wait in the dark and certainly a lot less time waiting than with Rigoletto.

ACT II:

La Boheme ACT II Spectacular

La Boheme ACT II Spectacular

Act II of La Boheme begins with a bang! There are over a hundred people to start the act. It’s overwhelming. Fantastic at first but ultimately as the act goes on it’s just too many people. I would have liked to have seen about half the people on stage as so many are lost in the crowd. Literally there are people six or seven layers deep here. With 20+ kids, many of them are lost in the shuffle. I’m sure there are several frustrated parents who will have to look real hard to spot their little performers.

The numbers are overkill and they musically don’t come together. With a chorus that size I’d expect fireworks and we get sparks but not what I’d hope for if you’re going to have a stage that packed.

Alyson Cambridge (Musetta) is so wonderfully over the top in everything she does that she steals this act. It doesn’t hurt that she’s in a lavish yellow dress. She owns every ounce of Musetta and her lavish attempts to make Marcello jealous. Musically the second act zips right along. Conductor Antonello Allemandi seems to enjoy letting his performers be the focus and supports them excellently. I particularly enjoyed the finale of this act with the marching band and parade, it’s a celebration and it’s done very well.

A side note, I’ve been asked several times by people tonight if I am an ‘Opera Person’ to which I’ve replied “I’m here aren’t I?” I think that someone can go to an opera and not define themselves as an opera person per se. There still seems to be a part of the culture who sees opera as a very specific thing, something you’re either a part of or not. This is a mistake. I’d love to see people who don’t attend opera be welcomed with open arms (and I think the Portland Opera itself is making great strides towards this with their blogger nights, pre show talks, Q&A’s and community events), after all opera doesn’t belong to anyone, it belongs to everyone even people who aren’t “Opera People”.

ACT III

Snow! The third act begins with a fantastic snowfall on a much darker and bleaker set. It’s jaring since we were just in the fun and colors of Act II. I feel like something’s been missed, there’s no real transition from revalry to dispair and we are left to wonder exactly has transipired between Rodolfo and Mimi. In many ways I felt like I needed an Act IIa to bridge the two acts narratively. I know people get testy when you pull apart great operas, and so I think it’s important to point out that even great composers can miss a beat here and there, and with La Boheme I wish there was something there to bridge the two.

Having said that, Act III belongs to Mimi (Kelly Kaduce) who does a fantastic job both with her solos and duets. Kanduce does something sublime as she sings from the shadows in response to Rodolfo’s declarations of wishing to end the relationship, it’s a physicality and quality of voice that really makes the scene. KellyKaduce shines the brightest here when her character is in decline walking the perfect balance between showing Mimi’s illness and the passion she still has for Rodolfo.

The duet with Rodolfo to close the act is simply divine. One of the highlights of the show so far, so much emotion, so beautiful and when they say they’ll stay together till the spring you truly don’t want the winter to end.

My only real gripe with this act (aside from WAY too many people on stage on Act II) is Michael Todd Simpson. His performance as Marcello Baritone isn’t bad but musically it’s just not great. In the quartet towards the end of Act III he gets lost in the shuffle. I like his voice and he has a nice stage presence, but I feel like he could open up just a little more. There seems to be more inside that isn’t coming out and I’d love to see it.

Still have visions of Rent in my head as I watch La Boheme and I appreciate even more that adaptation. Johnathan Larson seemed to see the spaces in between Puccini’s opera and filled them. Still I am thoroughly enjoying La Boheme in its own right, as its own thing.

ACT IV:

Mimi (Kelly Kaduce) and Rodolfo (Arturo Chacon-Cruz) Act III

Mimi (Kelly Kaduce) and Rodolfo (Arturo Chacon-Cruz) Act III

The act starts on a pretty jovial note (almost surprisingly given the tone of Act III), mirroring the first act, but it quickly turns as Mimi comes in dying from consumption. There’s a moment in the fourth act that is absolute proof that there are no small roles in great opera Gustav Andreassen delivers a phenomenal aria as Colline Bass that’s so compelling you can take your eyes off him. Forget about subtitles Gustav transcends the language and is absolutely perfect. One of the best moments of the night.

Another high point of this act is the return of Musetta (Alyson Cambridge) which Alyson plays much more reserved and down to earth than in Act II. Alyson is superb as she effortlessly displays both her emotional and vocal range, She and Gustav really seem to steal the show from Rodolfo (Arturo Chacón-Cruz) and Mimi (Kelly Kaduce). That is of course until the end.

Kelly Kaduce fades down her performance in this act with much of it coming from the bed. She is so quiet in the middle of the act that she occasionally gets lost in the strings. But the orchestra seemed so excited about the final refrain they can’t contain themselves. Musically the final refrain is amazing (worth seeing the whole show for). Watching Conductor Antonello Allemandi deliver that final refrain is extremely entertaining. Throughout much of the opera he’s been controlled, humble and subtle but like a cannon he literally explodes at the end.

Finale:

Overall I quite enjoyed Portland Opera’s production of La Boheme, It’s well staged, well performed and well conducted. There are some definite stand out performances including: Arturo Chacón-Cruz who is as good a Rodolfo as you can ask for; Kelly Kaduce whose take on Mimi I quite liked and who shined really bright both in her duets with Arturo and in the Act III; Gustav Andreassen and Alyson Cambridge who may have not had a lot of stage time but they both delivered monster performances (I don’t often recommend seeing a piece for the supporting performers but here it’s clearly warranted)

La Boheme has been called an excellent ‘starter’ opera and I can understand why, it’s fairly accessible, has a good mix of fun and tragedy and is musically quite enjoyable. Portland Opera’s production of this beloved opera is first rate and I’d highly recommend it for both “Opera People” and the rest of us who just might enjoy a good opera now and then.

Production Photos from Portland Opera’s Production of La Boheme

A special thanks to Julia Sheridan and Jim Fullan for making the Portland Opera Blogger nights possible. I think it’s a tremendous sign of just how committed the Portland Opera is to reaching out in the community and connecting with new opera viewers. I also encourage you to check out my fellow Opera Blogger’s and their thoughts on La Boheme: Marc Acito, Floyd Sklaver of Just Out, and Daryl Freedman (Portland Opera’s Studio Artist)

Portland Opera’s La Boheme runs at The Keller Auditorium September 27, Oct 1 & 3rd. Tickets are still available and they even have last minute rush for as low as $10!

For more information on Portland Opera’s La Boheme:

Categories: Opera, Theater Tags: ,

Portland Opera La Boheme

September 24, 2009 No comments

La Boheme Portland OperaLast season, On Portland took part in the first ever Portland Opera Live Blogging Event for their season closer Rigoletto. This event combined the excitement of live opera with almost real time commentary from bloggers.

Portland Opera has decided to reprise this event with their season opener La Boheme (which the musical Rent is based on)

On Friday, September 25th starting around 6:30 pm, On Portland will be live blogging the opera.  We’ll give you near real time look at the behind the scenes of the opera as well as comments on the production posted at each intermission.

If you’re an opera patron or want to join us at the opera on the 25th, On Portland will be at a special live blogging table in the lobby along with several other local Portland blogs. So be sure to come by and say hi as you watch us furiously type our immediate thoughts, feelings and reactions to La Boheme. Then check back here to see if our thoughts match yours.

If you aren’t able to attend the opera we invite you to visit our live blog of the event as it unfolds.  We never know what will end up in our live blog coverage but we can guarantee that you’ll be getting the very raw and unfiltered view of one of Portland’s most prominent performance companies.

Here are some interviews with some of the members of the La Boheme cast:

Soprano Kelly Kaduce on performing Mimi:

Arturo Chacon-Cruz on Rodolfo:

Soprano Alyson Cambridge on Musetta

Antonello Allemandi – Conductor

For more information:

Categories: Theater Tags:

Matt McCormick's Some Days Are Better Than Others

September 23, 2009 No comments

Some Days Are Better Than OthersLocal Portland Filmmaker Matt McCormick is extremely well known locally for his PDX Film Fest (Portland Documentary & eXperimental Film Festival) as well as his award winning work with short and experimental films.  Matt McCormick is about to stop being one of Portland’s best kept film secrets and is about to get some serious national attention for his first feature film Some Days Are Better Than Others. Backed by some serious powerhouse producers including Neil Kopp (Old Joy, Paranoid Park and Wendy and Lucy) and David Cress (Paranoid Park & Video Work w/ Thom York and Red Hot Chili Peppers).

McCormick has just launched the trailer for Some Days Are Better Than Others and it looks fantastic!  Consequently the trailer launched the same day that Sundance started taking ticket reservations for their 2010, and we expect Some Days to make its way their or to SXSW!

Watch the trailer for Some Days Are Better Than Others:

Here’s the info on Some Days Are Better Than Others:

Shot primarily in Portland and the surrounding areas, Some Days are Better than Others is a poetic, character-driven independent feature film starring James Mercer, Carrie Brownstein, Renee Roman Nose, and David Wodehouse. A charmingly melancholy look at abandonment, Some Days are Better Than Others asks the question, “Why do the good times slip by so fast while the sad times seem so sticky?” The film thematically explores heartbreak, abandonment, and alternative forms of communication while observing an interweaving web of awkward characters who seem to get kicked down by life time and time again. Above all else, Some Days are Better Than Others is a quirky black comedy about the disposable relics of our always-consuming society. It’s a film about growing up, growing old, and holding on to hope while looking for second chances.

For more information:

Categories: Movies Tags:

Carol Burnett Comes to Portland and I still want Her to Adopt Me

Carol Burnett Comes to Portland

Carol Burnett Comes to Portland

When I was a kid, I wanted Carol Burnett to adopt me.

It’s not that I was an orphan; I had two parents, a nice house and a dog. But I grew up in New Jersey, in the 70’s, in a house where yelling was the main form of communication. My dad yelled–a lot –at my mom, my brother, the dog, but mostly at me. So when my parents went out every Saturday night (whether or not they were actually speaking to each other), I found refuge with Carol Burnett. Without fail, I would be bathed, night-gowned and ready, sitting cross-legged in front of the TV in our family room promptly at 8pm. My entire focus was only on the world I saw before me, the one so much different from my own.

I so desperately wanted to live in that world. Carol was the perfect role model: a woman who looked like a real person, like your sixth grade teacher, but could transform herself instantly with a Bob Mackie dress into someone glamorous. It gave me hope that someday I could be like that, too. Aside from my own mother, Carol was the only adult who had ever made me laugh. I remember laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. She could also sing, so well it would move me to tears. She just seemed so…nice. I came to believe, at the ripe young age of 7, that if I lived with Carol Burnett, I would have the best life ever. I imagined living in a big house with the whole cast. I mean, after all, I thought she was really married to Lyle Waggoner, and that Tim Conway and Harvey Korman also lived in the house, sharing a room like on “The Odd Couple”. Vicki Lawrence got to have her own room. They just laughed all day and I wanted to be a part of it.

Then I learned that Carol Burnett and I share a birth date—April 26th—and I thought this was a cosmic message telling me that we were somehow connected. Despite the fact that she was married and had daughters of her own, I firmly believed that should Carol Burnett and I ever cross paths, she would just love me as much as I loved her. She could be my “Aunt Carol”. She just projects that warmth, that openness, whenever I see her.

As I grew up, the fantasies of being Carol Burnett’s adopted daughter faded, but I always managed to keep her in my life somehow. I saw every movie and TV appearance she made. I have a special place in my heart for “The Four Seasons”- I mean, couldn’t you see her really being married to Alan Alda? Carol did an HBO movie in the early 80s with Elizabeth Taylor called “Between Friends” that I adore. My girl crush on her has never really abated. Mention her name to anyone and the response is usually the same: “Oh my God, I LOVE Carol Burnett!” It’s as though she’s everyone’s ideal mother and friend.

Carol Burnett brings her one-woman show to the Schnitz on September 29th (at 7:30pm, tickets $59.75 – $98.50). It’s an extraordinarily rare opportunity to spend an evening with one of the most beloved women on television (her “Gone With the Wind” parody was recently named one of the top moments in TV history). She’s going to be taking questions from the audience. I am currently racking my brains to come up with something appropriate to say, should I be called upon.

Because even though I’m now 40 and a parent myself, I still kind of want Carol Burnett to be my mommy.

Tara Dublin

For more information on Carol Burnett in Portland:

Tara Dublin is a freelance writer living in the Portland metro area. She blogs regularly at her website, www.taradublinonline.com

Categories: Comedy Tags:

Monotonix – A Music Fest NW Review

September 19, 2009 No comments
Monotonix in Portland (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

Monotonix in Portland (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

Often when we listen to music, it’s over little white headphones that connect to our iphones or ipods, literally plugging us into our music. We own music, download it and possess it. For many, music is a very personal experience. Monotonix turns that relationship completely on its head by creating a concert experience where people are compelled to come together to experience the music rather than consume it individually.

Monotonix has very little regard for the conventional structure of a concert. They assemble their instruments on the floor of the venue surrounded by a ring of fans. When the concert starts, it’s an explosion. The entire room moves. It’s not like a mosh pit where people flay and spin bashing into each other; rather, it’s one big circular mass that moves as one.

The Crowd Moves as One (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

The Crowd Moves as One (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

The Music Fest NW set was a lot more tame than their previous Portland performances. Monotonix lead vocalist Ami Shalev spent a lot less time showing off his ass or simulating fellatio with audience members and spent a lot more time singing and rocking. This was a nice change for Monotonix, who seem to be continually refining and focusing what they do. Ami also spent a lot more time hoisted above the crowd. I was struck at site of the the constant sea of hands hosting and holding Ami, drums and the occasional crowd surfer. It was profoundly beautiful. The final song of the set was performed with Ami sitting on a stool playing the drums all hosited in the air by the audience.

Monotonix - The Crowd is The Stage (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

Monotonix - The Crowd is The Stage (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

There’s something about a Monotonix show that creates an instant community. As two people collided at the periphery of the circle, their glasses went flying, and immediately the crowd around them made room and began looking for the glasses. In an almost perfect moment the two both emerged holding each other’s glasses. It wasn’t a moment you’d expect at an ‘Israeli Punk’ show.

Crowd Surfing at Monotonix (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

Crowd Surfing at Monotonix (photo: Ken Aaron Neighborhood Notes)

I’ve seen Monotonix now three times, and I can honestly say they’re not a one trick pony. Musically I do think there’s some room for growth. Their song Body Language (off their debut album of the same name) shows off some real potential for what they can do. I didn’t feel that some of their new songs were at the same level although the performance overall has certainly grown. But you don’t go see Monotonix for just music. It’s an absolutely amazing experience and one which anyone who loves rock music should have. Seeing Monotonix at Music Fest NW was a fantastic reminder to me of why I love music and why I go see live music. Music can be so much more than just consumed and it’s great to be reminded of just how alive it really is.

See more photos from Monotonix’s MusicFest NW set here:

A special thanks to Ken Aaron of Neighborhood Notes, whose pictures captured what my words could not.

For more information on Monotonix and Musicfest NW:

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros – Music Fest NW Review

September 18, 2009 2 comments
Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros in Portland

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros in Portland

Infectious and contagious (in a good way), Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros sucks you in with music that builds and crescendos into an ecstatic space so compelling it’ll win over even the most hardened hipster. Playing a late night set at a very packed Holocene, this ten-piece band filled every corner of the club with music, dance and electricity.

A folk-rock infusion, Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros could best be described as Arcade Fire if they were all hippies, or a band from the children of the members of the Grateful Dead. Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros are a fairly young band, and the show had a variety of technical issues, but their inexperience was never prevalent. When a mic went out, Alex Ebert (aka Edward Sharpe) led the audience in un-amplified song, proclaiming, “Let’s do one without all this technology”. The result was magical. The Holocene stage was so packed with musicians that they literally spilled out into the audience. Ebert, swigging from a bottle of wine, spent part of the final songs in the crowd, not just performing to them, but being a part of them. This connection between the band and the audience is what really makes Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros something special. They don’t simply get up and play, they connect and they do so with a tremendous amount of heart and passion.

The highlight of the evening was the performance of their single “Home”. Ebert and company lead the audience in a whistle prologue to the song that was hauntingly beautiful. The rest of the band joined in and the song began to build. Bit by bit it transformed from a song into a celebration, one which involved everyone in the room. Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros showed tremendous promise in their Music Fest NW set and I can’t wait to see them perform live again.

Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros return to Portland on December 9th at the Doug Fir Lounge. I highly recommend checking them out as they won’t be playing small venues for long and the experience of seeing them in a more intimate venue is really exceptional.

For more information on Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros:

Categories: Music Tags: ,

Music Fest NW – Go See Girl Talk and Monotonix

September 16, 2009 No comments
Monotonix is Not to Be Missed

Monotonix is Not to Be Missed

I’ve always been a fan of WWeek‘s Music Fest Northwest . The fact that it’s a smaller regional fest in an era of megafests really creates a nice opportunity to get small venue experiences with up and coming bands.

This year MFNW features two of my absolute favorite small venue bands:

Monotonix (listen to our interview with Monotonix), an Israeli punk slash rock band is a show not to be missed. Monotonix’s shows are a tornado of energy where almost anything can happen. Monotonix sets up on the floor of the venue (in this case it’ll be at the Roseland) and then they explode.  If you’re going to see one Music Fest NW show this year, make it Monotonix, it’ll be an experience you’ll never forget. [Monotonix plays at The Roseland Theater on Friday Septemer 18th at 10pm followed by Bad Brains at 11pm it’s one of the best double bills of the fest]

Another ‘band’ that is extremely fun is Girl Talk. While not technically a ‘band’, Girl Talk will completely blow your expectations of what one guy can do with a laptop. Bringing together samples from almost every genre and era of music. It’s amazing what gets mixed together, think songs like Elton John’s Tiny Dancer can’t collide with Kanye “Jackass” West’s Gold Digger,  it can and will and the result is some of the most dancable tunes you’ll ever hear. It is absolutely impossible to see Girl Talk and not dance and his shows are some of the most fun I’ve seen . [Girl Talk plays at The Roseland Theater (8 NW 6th Ave) on  Thursday September 17th at 11pm with Brother Reade and Guidance Counselor who go on starting at 9pm]

Other notable shows to be on the lookout for:

Arctic Monkeys – Friday Sept 18 @ 7pm Wonder Ballroom
Modest Mouse – Sunday Sept 20 @ 10pm Crystal Ballroom

Also I asked Trevor Solomon, the festival’s artistic director which band he felt was the ‘hidden gem’ of the fest and he immediately replied Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros (Read the Review of Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros in Portland who play at Holocene on Thursday Sept. 17 @ Midnight.

Since many of the individual concerts are sold out, the best way to get in is to buy a Music Fest NW wrist band ($60) which gives you access to all the shows of the fest from Wednesday night through Sunday.

For more information about Musicfest NW:

Categories: Music Tags: , ,

Miley Cyrus Wonder World Tour Concert Review

September 14, 2009 247 comments
Miley Cyrus Tour Portland Spectacle

Miley Cyrus Tour Portland Spectacle

If there was one thing that was made perfectly clear at the Miley Cyrus Wonder World Contert Tour debut in Portland, it’s that Hannah Montana is no more. Miley has clearly hit a turning point in her life and career where she’s stopped being a child actress performer and is starting to explore her blossoming adulthood. It’s that transition when a teenager slams their door and instead of hearing Avril Lavigne emanating from the room, you hear Led Zeppelin. This period of time is exciting, wonderful, awful, painful and confusing, which in many ways is captured in the immense spectacle that is Miley’s concert tour.

Changing costumes with almost every number, Miley seemed to be trying on dozens of different looks, perhaps to see which best reflected herself. Musically this frenetic change of styles was also apparent. The show bounced around from rock to pop to ballad and then into songs which seemed to blend all those styles into one. It’s entertaining to watch but you get the real sense that Miley isn’t quite sure who exactly she’s becoming.

Miley was very clear about who she isn’t. In the hour and a half set, Miley barely touched any of the songs which made her a success, only flirting with the Hannah Montana library with a very sexed-up version of Girls Night Out and a nice rendition of The Climb. She seemed to steer very far away from her signature Hannah Montana theme song, something I think really disappointed the rather young audience.

There’s no denying that the Miley Cyrus concert tour is a grand spectacle. Each song seemed to be accompanied by some sort of massive set piece and with ten dancers and constant and elaborate choreography; the show was a constant feast for the eyes. Miley Cyrus deserves a tremendous amount of credit for this accomplishment. The complexity of the staging and the sheer amount of choreography (not to mention the constant costume changes) would be a huge challenge even for the most seasoned of performers. Miley Cyrus tackles this aspect of her show masterfully and should be commended for it. Unfortunately, musically she didn’t match the grand spectacle. It’s not that Miley is a poor performer – when she hits the mark, she’s got a solid voice, great stage presence and wonderful connection with the audience. I just don’t think the bulk of her material is all that great. There are some real stand-outs among her work including her new hit Party in the USA, The Climb (the theme song from The Hannah Montana Movie) and When I Look at You (which is the theme from her upcoming 2010 film, The Last Song). The rest of the songs she performed never really break out and tended to fall a little on the dull side.

Miley Cyrus put to rest any question that she can rock, with a fantastic cover of Joan Jett And The Blackhearts ‘I Love Rock N’ Roll’ which she sang while riding a motor cycle that was lifted up over the audience and flown through the air. It was frustrating to hear that she does have the talent, even to rock, but not the real material to back that up. Another frustrating moment came during a transition between numbers where Miley and the dancers teased with a short bit of the Thriller dance; I would have loved to see her cover Michael Jackson, but the number was only a quick tease and Miley did not sing.

Throughout the 90 minute show, Miley changed her costumes a dizzying 10 times. Most of the costumes were skin tight and accentuated her breasts. This sexually forward side to Miley might have been a bit of a shock to the parents of the younger kids in the audience who came to see ‘Hannah Montana’. My daughter, who is 10, even commented on how much Miley showed off the fact that she’s got breasts (it was that noticeable). Despite this obvious display of her blossoming sexuality, Miley kept her show fairly tame. Rather than shock or put off her audience in some sort of rebellion, she simply declared her womanhood and burgeoning sexuality.

Miley Cyrus on Tour catches a young artist at a real intersection in her career. There seems to be a dynamic performer emerging from the bubblegum pop child star she once was. Hopefully after this tour she’ll be able to have some real time to work with a producer and song writers who can see her talent and bring out the best of it, because without a solid foundation of music under her, all the spectacle in the world won’t be enough to ignite her career and carry her beyond Hannah Montana.

For More info on Miley Cyrus Wonder World Tour:

Patton Oswalt One of The Funniest Comedians Alive – A Portland Concert Review

Patton Oswalt

Patton Oswalt

It’s hard to remember a time when I laughed harder or for longer. Of the over ninety minutes in Patton Oswalt‘s Portland concert I found myself laughing (nearly to the point of tears) through almost every minute of it. Joke after joke hit its target dead center, and when something wasn’t quite a bullseye, Oswalt tweaked it into something even funnier.

Patton Oswalt doesn’t look or sound like he’d be the next great comedian. He’s short, stocky, and his voice strongly resonates his character from Ratatouille. Don’t let his looks be deceiving – Patton Oswalt stands on the shoulders of comedic greatness. His comedic ability, timing and spontaneity puts him solidly in the company of Robin Williams, George Carlin and Richard Pryor.

After you clear the tears out of your eyes from laughing so hard and look at the wide variety of styles of comedy and types of comedic elements that Patton hits in a single show, it’s absolutely mind blowing. From ‘truth is stranger than fiction’ stories, to witty observations and total off-the-cuff riffs, Oswalt seems to have an amazing tool kit to pull from on stage and he’s completely fearless in doing so.

In his Portland concert, Oswalt covered about 25% of his material from his current concert film My Weakness is Strong. Many comedians who tour for a major concert film release would rely on much more of that content. Oswalt seemed to use it as a wire frame for his show, only falling back to it when he seemed to want to get things flowing forward. Some of the funniest material of the evening came from Oswalt’s completely improvised interaction with a member of the audience. It was equivalent of a high wire act unhooking the safety line and doing somersaults on the tight rope.

The Newmark theater was filled to capacity for Patton Oswalt and the uproarious standing ovation brought Oswalt back on stage for a series of ‘classic’ material that seemed remarkably fresh. To date, Oswalt has built a very loyal and eager following but has been working just below the radar screen of many comedy fans. I don’t expect Oswalt to continue to be one of the best kept ‘secrets’ in comedy; he is absolutely destined for greatness and I’d be surprised if his next trip to Portland doesn’t have him selling out a venue twice or three times the size of the Newmark.

If you missed out on Patton Oswalt in Portland, be sure to pick up his concert DVD My Weakness is Strong and then make sure you catch him the next time he comes to Portland. It’s one of the funniest nights of comedy you’ll ever experience.

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