Portland’s collection of A-list musicians — chart-toppers Portugal. The Man, indie-rock heroes the Decemberists, neo-tango-band sophisticates Pink Martini, jazz legend Mel Brown, just to name a few — is nothing if not varied. Likewise, the Rose City boasts a wide array of music halls.
On the east side, the rocket-ship-meets-log-cabin décor of the Doug Fir Lounge exudes chic charm. Expect a regular lineup of nationally and internationally known indie bands, often buoyed by trend-setting local openers.
The vibe is also fiercely independent at Mississippi Studios in North Portland. Shows at this recording studio/performance space have included mellow record-release parties and a unique mash-up between the Oregon Ballet Theatre and a local folk band.
Booked by the same crew behind Mississippi Studios and Revolution Hall, Polaris Hall opened in 2017 and features primarily acoustic shows.
Old Town nightclub Dante’s is a longstanding live music venue, with local and touring acts appearing almost every night of the week.
At North Portland’s Wonder Ballroom, wooden floors and cozy quarters offer an intimate setting for a variety of artists.
Tucked in the heart of the Alberta Arts District, the Alberta Rose Theatre takes advantage of the venue’s former-movie-house design, providing concert goers with a intimate setting, incredible acoustics and excellent line-of-sight seating.
Opened in 2015, Revolution Hall (Rev Hall to locals) is an 830-seat venue set inside a former high school’s original auditorium that plays host to a variety of musical styles.
Southeast Portland’s Aladdin Theater started as a vaudeville house and later became a movie theater before transforming into a live music venue in the early 1990s. Since then, scores of big-name local and national touring music acts and comedians have graced the 600-person venue’s stage.
After stints as a silent movie house and a strip club, the Star Theater reopened as a music venue in time for its centennial in 2011. Now hosting a variety of music, arts and comedy events, it was voted best music venue in Willamette Week’s 2019 Best of Portland poll.
Touring rock acts frequently grace the stage at McMenamins Crystal Ballroom, a historic venue in downtown’s West End, which features an unusual floating dance floor.
The 1,400-person, all-ages Roseland Theater features nightly concerts by small local bands, huge national icons and everyone in between. The Roseland commonly hosts rap, hip-hop, rock and indie acts, but has seen the likes of artists as diverse as Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt, Miles Davis and Prince. The main concert area is standing-room only, but it also features an upstairs balcony with seating and adjacent bar.
The Moda Center, home to the NBA’s Trail Blazers, is also Portland’s largest live music venue, and attracts big-name performers and productions. Its “Theater of the Gods” configuration allows for slightly more intimate stadium shows.
The Keller Auditorium downtown is home base for Portland’s opera and ballet companies, but also hosts occasional rock and pop performers like Incubus and Andrew Bird.
Rounding out the Rose City’s collection of big stages, downtown’s grand Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall is not only home to the Oregon Symphony, but also welcomes major acts, from Wynton Marsalis to the Black Crowes.
Outdoor Music Venues
When the sun is shining, Edgefield reigns supreme. Located on the site of a historic poorhouse and farm, the venue is part of the McMenamins empire of interesting sites masterfully restored as hotel resorts. Just 20 minutes east of Portland by car, Edgefield has a popular summer Concerts on the Lawn series that’s hosted everyone from the Doobie Brothers to Vampire Weekend.
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