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In The Heights Portland Tour Review

October 20, 2010 No comments
Lexi Lawson and Joseph Morales In The Heights

Lexi Lawson and Joseph Morales in In The Heights

The original off-Broadway (and eventually Broadway) production of In The Heights is a much better show than what I saw at the Keller during opening night. If there was ever a show that clearly demonstrated the acoustic limitations and the issues of bringing a show on the road it was In The Heights. Set in the Washington Heights neighborhood in New York, In The Heights takes a very conventional musical structure and infuses it with an eclectic mix of latin music, culture and dance. The core of the story is a Dominican named Usnavi, raised by a surrogate grandmother in the neighborhood, who struggles to run a small, often broken-down convenience store.  Usnavi is surrounded by an cast of characters all dealing with the gentrification of the neighborhood and the struggle between planting roots or sprouting wings and finding a better life somewhere else.  Thematically and musically there are a lot of notes lifted from Rent, with characters at the apex of dealing with their identity. This is no accident as many of the producers also worked on Rent. Read more…

The Original Burger at Hollywood Burger Bar | Reviewing The Dish

October 14, 2010 4 comments
Hollywood Burger Bar Old Fashioned Burger

Hollywood Burger Bar Old Fashioned Burger

After having an underwhelming Island Burger at Ate-Oh-Ate, I still hadn’t satisfied my craving for a really great burger. I’ve been to Hollywood Burger Bar on several occasions and while they may have not the number one best burger in Portland, they make a pretty damn good burger. The last time I had attempted to go to the Hollywood Burger Bar it was closed (although it was on a day which the sign said it was open). With no sign in the window to explain the odd closure, it took me a while to warm up to paying it another visit.

This old fashioned Burger Bar has a counter which seats about 10 people and tables for about 5 or 6 more. Orders are taken right at the counter and here’s what I ordered:

Original Burger – 1/3 pound ground beef patty on a sesame seed bun with 1000 Island, mayo, lettuce, tomato, pickle & onion for $5.75. I added cheese for $0.50 and had an iced tea for $1.50. My order total was $7.75.

The burger took a good 10-15 minutes to come up, and the wait felt longer than it was given that the space between the chair and the counter was designed for much shorter people. My iced tea came up pretty quick and it was amazingly strong, so strong it needed a TON of sugar to make it palatable. Read more…

Jack Johnson To The Sea Concert Review

October 4, 2010 2 comments
Jack Johnson at The Sleep Country Amphitheater

Jack Johnson at The Sleep Country Amphitheater

There’s something magical about seeing a performer at the top of their game. It’s an indescribable quality that permeates everything they do. For Jack Johnson, the To The Sea tour is a clear apex in his career. With several albums under his belt and some significant changes in his life along the way, Jack Johnson has made the transition from funky surfer guy to a full blown rock star. What makes Jack Johnson so special is that through all that transition, he has managed to maintain the core of who he is as an artist. Even while playing to a packed house at the Sleep Country Amphitheater, Johnson manages to make you feel like you’re seeing him strumming his guitar on the beach after a long day of surfing. Being able to scale that kind of intimate performance is a difficult task and Johnson does it with ease.

When it comes to performing, you really can’t fake heart and it was clear as Jack Johnson moved through his cannon of music that he loves what he does. Most artists build anticipation by saving their latest hit for the end of the concert, but Jack Johnson opened with it. As he sang You and Your Heart the crowd leapt to its feet and remained there singing and dancing throughout the concert. In many ways it was like Jack Johnson cared too much to make his audience wait to hear something they really wanted to hear, so he gave it to them right from the start. Read more…

Arcade Fire in Portland Concert Review

October 1, 2010 2 comments
Arcade Fire in Portland

Arcade Fire in Portland

I saw Arcade Fire back in May 2007, the last time they came to Portland, at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall. The venue was perfect, the sound was perfect and the band kept the audience engaged with almost every note. It was one of those magical nights that you always hope for but never can expect.

I saw the band again in September of that year, on the same tour, at the Hollywood Bowl. While I liked the show at the Hollywood Bowl, something got lost as it scaled to the big venue. Somehow the intimacy and magic present at the Schnitz was completely absent at the Hollywood Bowl.

Flash forward three years and Arcade Fire is simply on fire. They went from one of the biggest buzz bands around to one of the top bands performing. For The Suburbs tour, this necessitated a move to bigger venues and larger arenas for their shows.

Acutely aware of the issues with scaling their shows, Arcade Fire drummer Jeremy Gara admitted to fears to NME that the band wouldn’t “connect” with fans when they play big arenas. This combined with the fact that the Portland stop on their tour was booked at the Memorial Coliseum made me a little hesitant about seeing their show. The Coliseum isn’t Portland’s best venue (the best happens to be the Schnitzer) and it can really have significant acoustical problems.

Given how good the band was the last time around and how good their new album “The Suburbs” is, I decided I absolutely had to give it a try. Read more…

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