It’s Waking Windows Weekend, Portland’s only city-wide festival of music, spoken/written word and art. This is one of those things where, like, in ten years you’ll be posting shit on Facebook like “oh it’s WW again, better go up to camp for the weekend to avoid the tourists” because this bad bitch is growing and getting more interesting, diverse and relevant every year. I think maybe this is the third one of these? And maybe it’s two nights this year instead of one? I honestly don’t know if either of those things are correct, but they’re what my little feeble memory is telling me, so… there’s like a 30% chance it’s true.
The shows start Friday, and they’ve set it up this year in a super interesting way - Friday is all about Bayside, with events at Bayside Bowl (both the roof and downstairs), Fork Food Lab, Apohadion, with an after party at SPACE with o/s/o/s and then an after-after party at some undisclosed location so why bother even putting it on the web site then. On Saturday, shit moves back to Congress Street with events at SPACE, State Theatre, Tandem Coffee, OLS, Blue, Empire, Congress Square Park, Local Sprouts, Etain, Jewel Box, PMA, Flea For All, Maine Ballroom Dance and the Art Department. No word on whether Saturday offers another after party that is too cool for you to get into or know about.
There’s the music that we’ve come to associate with WW and we’ll get to that in a minute, but here’s a cool thing for those of us that can’t afford a ticket or don’t have the time to commit to spending hours going from event to event: there are many events at WW that are free! Basically, if you go to the schedule and see an event listed at Congress Square Park, Tandem Coffee, The Bearded Lady’s Jewel Box, Flea For all and Bayside Bowl Rooftop, it’s free and open to the public! Plus, there’s also this sweet Record Fair that is free to get into for all ages, and they will have DJs for ambiance and a shitload of records for you to buy while enjoying that ambiance. That is at Maine Ballroom Dance at 614 Congress Street and I hope for all of our sakes that love is not dead and John Cusack materializes from behind a stack of mid century jazz records and turns to the crowd and says, “I WILL NOW SELL FIVE COPIES OF THE THREE EPS BY THE BETA BAND” and then puts on “Dry the Rain” and flies off into the afternoon sky in a poof of CK One-scented smoke, and then suddenly you turn around and it turns out the person standing right beside you is the one true soul you’ve been searching for THIS WHOLE TIME… you just had to figure some stuff out about yourself first.
But there’s also comedy, and readings, and conversations between interesting people, and it has all been curated by some folks with very good taste. There is too much for me to cover in depth because writing this site is not my full time job, but I think if you’re going to do the thing, you’d be remiss if you didn’t try to catch Open Mike Eagle, Rough Francis, Xenia Rubinos, Mega Bog, Hi Tiger, and you know what, all the other shit too, truly, there's just a lot of good here. Plus word on the street is that there is a very special surprise guest at the New Fruit event on Friday and if you’re there at the right time, you may just see something special.
Check out the Friday Schedule HERE.
And the Saturday Schedule is HERE.
Aaaannnnddd the Saturday Special Events Schedule is HERE.
There is also some other shit going on this weekend that’s not a part of Waking Windows, though, so let’s take a look at that too.
Friday September 29
The inimitable Kat Wright is back at PHOME for her second night in town, with Chris Ross and the North opening.
Downeast Soul Coalition, a funk, soul and rnb band made entirely from white Mainers - so your mileage may vary - is at Congress Square Park.
Golden Oak and The Appleseed Collective are at OLS.
Iraqi musician and poet Kifah Abdullah is at Mayo Street Arts doing a reading with accompaniment.
It’s Port City Music Hall’s annual Queen Tribute Night and this year, they’re playing “News of the World,” which I think is an interesting album because it really only has two hits that people generally know unless they’re deep in the Queen (the sports doofus- and sales dudes at a conference in Fort Lauderdale-appropriated songs “We Are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You”), but it’s their highest selling album of all time. It came out five years before “Under Pressure” saw the light of day, and two years after “Bohemian Rhapsody” became their first #1 single in the UK and their first platinum record in the US. I mean jeez what a musical power sandwich. I LOVE QUEEN SO MUCH but this is not my favorite of their albums - in fact, I am thinking that I have to go to this show because I haven’t listened to “News of the World” in a super long time, and maybe it’s time to go back to it. We’ll see. There's so much new music to listen to too.
Empire has Shokazoba, who are an afrobeat ensemble citing Fela Kuti and James Brown as their biggest influences, and who also appear to be an afrobeat group entirely composed of white men from Massachusetts. So, you know, sing it with me if you know the words, and you should by now because if there’s a genre of music that has a deep, rich history in an oppressed culture that white American people couldn’t possibly understand, some white dude somewhere is sitting in his room with his dick in one hand and his stupid guitar in the other, jerking off and looking in the mirror saying “but I can do it beeeettttteeerrrrrrr” and so, once again: YOUR. MILEAGE. MAY. VARY. Akela Moon opens.
(edited to add: I was just contacted by a friend of Shokazoba who wants me to let you know that the band is now fronted by a black woman.)
Out at Lenny’s you’ve got Memphis Lightning. There’s a benefit punk show for EQME at UFF. The Mansplainers are at Dogfish. A 90’s and early aughts cover band called The Middle School Grads are at Brian Boru. Salvage has the Long Gone Wanderers. Blue has Tim Mercer, Miss Maybell and the Slimpickins, and Talons of Spring.
Saturday September 30
In the afternoon Bunker Brewing is hosting Bunktoberfest, which appears to be beer, food trucks, a bouncy house and Raging Brass folded into one very fun sounding event.
Personal favorite of mine Johnny Cremains is at Geno’s with A Film in Color and Apis Malfiore. This show is also raising money for EQME.
Tiger Bomb, Watts & The Connection are at Bayside Bowl. Five of the Eyes is releasing their new album at PHOME with In the Presence of Wolves, Mirth and KGFREEZE. The Portland Symphony Orchestra is performing the music of George Gershwin at Merrill Auditorium and I’ve tried to get tickets to this like five times tonight from different devices and browsers and the ticketing site seems to be down. Maybe if I just go down there and bang my fist on a window somewhere? Would that work?
Mayo Street Arts has the Middle Eastern Jazz Project. Yes, very descriptive name. Our dude Travis Humphrey migrates over to Lenny’s for solo tunes tonight. Sonic Libido, El Grande, Port City Saints and Behind Deadlines are at Live at 212. Big Spender Trio are at Salvage. Kali and the Ancestors are at Dogfish.
Alright, here is where I would usually say something like I love you and I want good things for you and to be safe and to be kind and good and smart and stuff, but if I’m being honest, I don’t really feel those things right now so it would read as disingenuous if I tried it. I guess we all have a shadow side, a dark side, and when mine is working harder than it should be, I feel deflated, depleted. And when I feel like that, which isn’t all the time but it is some of the time, I can’t offer my heart up. I’m too greedy, I need all of it for myself, so I can sit with me and give myself that love and support. So anyway, I guess have a good weekend at Waking Windows, have the best goddam time and I’ll be seeing ya, I suppose.