What to Do in Portland (Sept. 1-7)

Venice VR is about to return to Portland for the second year in a row.


Those looking to escape to an idyllic, small town without encountering the current complexities of rural Oregon (anti-maskers and overrun hospitals) may find some solace in the brand-new, slice-of-life video game Lake, which presents the pristine, fictional town of Providence Oaks, Ore.—as invented by Dutch game developers Gamious. Generally, the cliché of an inordinately cheerful, provincial cast of characters is that some supernatural element is bound to crop up. However, brothers Jos and Pim Bouman stayed the contemplative course. Lake really does seem to be mostly about delivering mail. If Animal Crossing has made one thing abundantly clear, it’s that people like video game chores. Have at it! Available on Steam beginning Wednesday, Sept. 1.

Venice VR Expanded

In the middle of the pandemic, the Portland Art Museum managed to score a partnership with one of the biggest events in the art world. Last September, the museum and NW Film Center hosted the only U.S. exhibit of the Venice Biennial. For 10 days, PAM was home to the Venice Biennial’s virtual reality competition, Venice VR Expanded. Now, the competition is about to return to Portland for the second year in a row. More than 30 virtual reality films from 21 countries screen at this year’s show. The immersive works range from animated to nonfiction and story-focused to abstract experiences. Portland Art Museum, 1219 SW Park Ave., portlandartmuseum.org. Sept. 1-19. $35.

Wild Roots Spirits Tasting Room

Fruity alcohol sometimes gets a bad rap. It evokes teenage memories of Boone’s Farm or bottom-shelf peach schnapps—probably downed in an irresponsible location like the back of a pickup truck or an abandoned parking lot—and the subsequent, accompanying hangover. But Wild Roots’ fruit-infused vodkas are nothing like the saccharine swill of your youth. Made with actual berries, apples, peaches and pears, its spirits offer the tart, earthy complexity of the real deal and a balanced sweetness so you don’t spike your blood sugar. Now, customers can once again sample Wild Roots vodka and gin in its airy tasting room on the inner east side. Opened just a few months before the pandemic lockdowns kicked in, the space welcomed customers back just this month. Take your tasting flight or seasonally inspired mini-cocktail to one of the seating areas—all look ripped from a Crate & Barrel showroom—a scene that would surely impress your younger, illegally sipping self. Wild Roots Tasting Room, 77 NE Grand Ave., Suite F, 971-254-4617,wildrootsspirits.com/visit-us. Noon-6 pm daily.

Serial Mom

Written and directed by John “Pope of Trash” Waters, this 1994 black comedy cult classic stars Kathleen Turner as a seemingly perfect suburban housewife…who turns out to have a penchant for murdering anyone who makes slights against her family. Show up early—comedian Becky Braunstein performs a live standup set before the screening. Hollywood Theatre, 4122 NE Sandy Blvd.,503-493-1128, hollywoodtheatre.org. 7:30 pm Wednesday, Sept. 1. $8-$10.

The Bitchuation Room

Correspondent and comedian Francesca Fiorentini (Red, White and Who?) brings her political comedy podcast The Bitchuation Room to Portland for a one-off live recording. The hourlong show will focus on Portland’s current political landscape and whether it deserves the reputation it carries nationally. Fiorentini interviews activist journalist Mac Smiff and Western States Center executive director Eric K. Ward. Comedian Matt Lieb provides the necessary pressure breaks. The Alberta Abbey, 126 NE Alberta St., albertaabbey.org. 7 pm Thursday, Sept. 2. $12.

Oregon Symphony Waterfront Concert

While just about every other Portland tradition has been canceled these past two years, one is making a long-awaited return. This weekend, following a four-year hiatus, the Oregon Symphony brings back its waterfront concert. It’s still free, but face masks and proof of vaccination or negative COVID test are required. Conducted by the symphony’s new music director, David Danzmayr, the program features classical music’s equivalent of top 40 hits. The concert includes Beethoven, some of John Williams’ Star Wars score, Oregon Ballet Theatre performing part of Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty, and, as always, Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture, complete with cannon fire from the Oregon Army National Guard. Sure, even in the best of times, it’s a little uncomfortable to listen to a display of military force set to a jingoistic anthem that its own composer hated, but also—explosions! Tom McCall Waterfront Park, 1020 SW Naito Parkway, orsymphony.org. 1 pm Saturday, Sept. 4. Free.

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