As a fan of a diverse range of music, I’ve learned that Portland can satisfy all of my musical cravings — and the greater metro is packed with beautiful and historic venues that make each performance an unforgettable experience. These are a few of my favorite concert spaces in town, and the shows that are on my 2017 summer bucket list.
Newmark Theatre1111 SW Broadway, Portland
The Newmark Theatre is an 880-seat venue that hosts ballet, opera and theater performances in the heart of downtown Portland. The Edwardian-style theater somehow feels grand as well as intimate, and it’s got some of the most impressive acoustics I’ve encountered in a space of this size. There’s no better place in town to see a classical performance.
Don’t miss in 2017: This summer the theater is hosting Billy Elliot the Musical, the Tony Award-winning play about a British boy who discovers a love for ballet. The show, which features music written by Sir Elton John, runs from September 16 to October 1. Billy Elliot has sold out theaters around the world, and I can’t wait to see it in one of Portland’s most breathtaking places.
McMenamins Historic Edgefield2126 SW Halsey Street, Troutdale
Located just outside the Portland city limits in Troutdale, McMenamins Historic Edgefield Estate is an oasis minutes from urban life. The property was originally built as a county poor farm, but the space has transformed into a quirky gathering space with a winery, hotel and an impressive outdoor concert space. The amphitheater is home to Edgefield’s Concerts on the Lawn series, which runs all summer and draws talented musicians from all over the world.
Don’t miss in 2017: Hip hop legends The Roots are playing on the Edgefield lawn on September 1. Like a lot of people, I love watching them perform as the house band on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, but I can’t wait to see them live at this one-of-a-kind, all-ages performance. I suggest bringing a blanket to sit on and enjoying the show with libations from McMenamins’ own brewery and winery, and feel free to book a room at the hotel for after the concert.
Holocene1001 SE Morrison Street, Portland
It’s hard to believe that one of Portland’s most dynamic event spaces just happened to start out as an auto parts store. With 5,000 square feet of space, Holocene hosts weekly dance parties, electronic music, live bands and even storytelling events.
Don’t miss in 2017: XYLO, a brother-sister electronic music group out of Los Angeles, will be performing at Holocene September 12. They first grabbed my attention on YouTube, where their self-released first single, “America,” racked up nearly a million views. They followed it up with an EP packed with melodies and harmonies that will stop you in your tracks.
Oregon Zoo4001 Southwest Canyon Road, Portland
Portland is a city alive with music and energy all year round, but there’s something really special about the summertime here. The days stretch on, the grass is lush and everyone wants to be outside. The Oregon Zoo Summer Concerts took that idea and ran with it. The zoo has been hosting a summer concert series since 1979, and they bring huge talent to the 64-acre property in West Portland. The summer concerts are kid-friendly and a great way to experience nature and incredible music together.
Don’t miss in 2017: This summer features many standout acts, but a highlight is the August 12 show featuring Blind Pilot and Gregory Alan Isakov. Blind Pilot, a nationally acclaimed indie folk band with roots in Oregon, is touring with Isakov, a South African singer-songwriter, whose gentle, soulful songs will probably sound familiar. His music has been featured in several movies, television shows and advertisements in the last several years.
These are just a few of the city’s highlights when it comes to music venues, but you’ll find so much more when you start exploring for yourself. Keep an eye on the calendar to see what’s playing where, and always be open to trying something new in this music paradise.