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Portland Opera La Boheme

September 24, 2009 Comments off

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:

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Matt McCormick’s Some Days Are Better Than Others

September 23, 2009 Comments off

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:

Monotonix – A Music Fest NW Review

September 19, 2009 Comments off
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 Comments off
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.

For more info on Patton Oswalt:

Travel Portland – The Best of Portland Video

September 13, 2009 1 comment

Travel Portland has put together a fantastic look at the city of Portland. I think it sums up some of the amazing things that makes Portland, Portland and why it’s becoming one of the premiere travel and tour destinations in the US.

To keep up with the Best of Portland:

Categories: Portland Tags:

TBA:09 in Review – Back to Back Theater Small Metal Objects

September 10, 2009 Comments off
photo: Ken Aaron,

photo: Ken Aaron,

Set in Pioneer Courthouse Square, Back to Back Theater’s “Small Metal Objects” is a fairly minimalistic piece – two guys stroll the square talking about life and their relationship. A third person comes along to interject a small amount of drama and the piece builds slightly, only to reach an anti-climax. There aren’t many highs and lows to the piece; it’s all fairly mundane. The fairly simple interaction is heightened as each actor is impeccably mic’d and the audience, equipped with high-end head phones, can hear every single word no matter where the actors are located in the square. It’s an odd experience watching a piece of theater where the actor’s audio sounds so close. In this piece this intimate audio experience is even more odd as it’s so clearly intertwined with a very public space in which the actors perform. In addition to the dialog, music is mixed over the headphones creating the real mood and the tension of the performance.

The real magic of Small Metal Objects is the slight of hand that Back to Back Theater does, duping the audience into thinking that they are the observers when in fact they are the show. Sitting in a confined and clearly marked space above the square, wearing big silver headphones, it’s the audience that are the “small metal objects”. We are the ones really on display and the actors who walk the square are nearly invisible to people who pass through the square. It’s a fairly brilliant inversion and quite effectively challenges the very notion of what performance and theater are. The downside of this is that the piece is pretty much a one trick pony. Once you realize the trick there’s little else to hang on to. There are some nuggets narratively in Small Metal Objects and the two main characters are compelling, but it has the potential to be even better. Back to Back could have delivered a one-two punch with a piece that both challenges the concept of performance and has stronger narrative elements. It’s an opportunity missed, but not enough to prevent me from recommending the show.

I applaud Back to Back Theater for so skillfully challenging the core concept of performance. Technically the show was impeccable, but with a stronger narrative it could have been even better.

For more information about Back to Back Theater’s Small Metal Objects:

Categories: Theater Tags:

Patton Oswalt in Portland – Ticket Giveaway

September 8, 2009 22 comments
Patton Oswalt in Portland

Patton Oswalt in Portland

The response for our Miley Cyrus Portland Concert Ticket Giveaway was great and we got some good feedback from our readers on what kind of giveaways they’d like to see and how they’d like to see us do them.

So..We’re excited to bring you a ticket giveaway for Patton Oswalt who is going to be performing in Portland this Sunday September 13 at 7:30pm at the Newmark Theater at the Portland Center for the Performing Arts.

Patton Oswalt is an exceptional comedian who was a smash hit at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival and is in an explosive break out period in his career. After reaching large scale notoriety as the voice of the title character in Pixar’s Ratatouille, Patton’s acting and stand up career have gone through the roof.  Patton just released his new concert film My Weakness is Strong and he’s starring in the critically acclaimed Sundance Film Festival hit Big Fan.

On Portland is giving away a pair of tickets to see Patton Oswalt in Portland.  All you have to do to enter is comment on the thread below with your thoughts about Patton. We’ll pick the one comment as the winner.

Winner will be drawn on Thursday, September 10th at 7:30pm.

Be sure to follow @OnPortland on Twitter for more great promos and coverage of events like Patton Oswalt.

Here’s a peek at Patton’s Standup:

Watch the trailer for Patton Oswalt in Big Fan here.

For more info on Patton Oswalt:

(Congrats to “Stephanie E” who is the winner of the pair of tickets)

Categories: Comedy Tags: