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Los Angeles electronic artist Profligate plays the Maine Center for Electronic Music

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Greg Brown

1. BEEN A QUIET WEEK IN LAKE WOBEGON

 

With a career that started in 1974 and a discography stuffed with more than 30 albums, GREG BROWN has really been cookin’ with gas for the past 40-ish years. He’s even got three daughters who all ended up becoming musicians too. Something must be in the water out there in Iowa. You might recognize Greg’s name from A Prairie Home Companion, Garrison Keillor’s radio show on which Brown would regularly play his pastoral country hymns to the crew from Lake Wobegon. He’s very beloved by the 35+ NPR set, and for very good reason: he’s got the gift of narration. The Boston Globe once called him America’s “most essential modern troubadour,” which is a very bold statement given that Brown is a mere eight years younger than Bob Dylan — how much more modern or essential could he be? When are these two going to start beefing about this on Twitter? Brown will do an intimate solo show at Portland House of Music and Events on Thursday evening, spinning yarns of country struggle, introspection and vast stories of American life. | Oct 11 | Thu 7 pm | Portland House of Music and Events, 25 Temple St, Portland | $40 | 21+ | portlandhouseofmusic.com 

 

2. THEY’RE THE KIDS IN AMERICA

 

Maine is such a great state for making music. If there were still such a thing as a traditional “music town,” (your formerday LAs, Seattles or Austins, for example) Portland might make the current list. The secret is access to excellent music education for folx of all ages — you gotta get ‘em hooked on a feeling while they’re young. The Maine Academy of Modern Music, with their core values of embracing failure as part of learning, teamwork and supportive peer leadership, is a children’s school for contemporary music education. These kids pretty much rock — they learn their instruments, composition and performance via classroom-style teaching and participating in student bands that play shows at venues throughout the city. The school’s SCHOLARSHIP GALA FUNDRAISER CHORDS FOR KIDS takes place Thursday night, the proceeds of which fund MAMM’s various community outreach and scholarship programs that annually subsidize over 1,200 students in the state. The gala will include performances from student bands, a silent auction, live music from '80s cover band The Awesome and the school’s Community Rock Star awards. Stop by to ensure great Maine music keeps on keepin’ on for generations. | Oct 11 | Thu 5 pm | Aura, 121 Center St, Portland | $50 | 21+ | auramaine.com 

 

3. THE WAY LIFE SHOULD BLEED

 

DAMNATIONLAND, a play on Maine’s state motto, “Vacationland,” is a short film festival featuring the horror/thriller films of Maine filmmakers. Makes sense that Mainers would love their horror movies, given that our state’s most spooktastic locations feature in beloved films based on the works of You Know Who, like It, Carrie, Pet Sematary and dozens more. Damnationland’s mostly indie filmmakers put their own twists on the genre with surreal plot devices, unsettling imagery and cinematography and new ways to see our state’s favorite features. Last year’s offerings included a film that took place entirely within the graffiti-covered walls of Battery Steele, a very upsetting take on cultural fear of femininity with a scene that included the ritual removal of a young woman’s teeth, and an animated tale of a walk through a cemetery with comedian John Hodgman. This year, Maine filmmakers Mark Hensley, E.C. Gregg, Samuel James, Jeremy Kasten and Fred Greenhalgh, Shannon Meserve and many more will contribute their works to the festival. | Oct 12 | Fri 7:45 pm | State Theatre, 609 Congress St, Portland | $12 | 21+ | statetheatreportland.com 

 

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Film: MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. screens at the Portland Museum of Art October 12-14

4. I FLY LIKE PAPER GET HIGH LIKE PLANES

 

That M.I.A. is one smart cookie. As a young girl, Matangi Arulpragasam (her given name) began recording and archiving her personal life as she survived civil war in Sri Lanka. Later fleeing to the UK, she took the name Maya and began to hone her artistic endeavors, beginning with visual art, filmmaking and script writing. Director John Singleton (Boyz n the Hood) even approached her at one point while she was still in college to work on a film, though she turned the offer down. The world got to know Arulpragasam as M.I.A. in the summer of 2007, when she released her second album Kala — that’s the one that has “Paper Planes” on it, a song M.I.A. wrote with Diplo that blew up fast and changed the world’s ideas about what a woman rapper could be. Director Steve Loveridge has compiled M.I.A.’s personal video recordings from the past 22 years into the Sundance award winning documentary MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A., showing throughout the weekend at the PMA. The film is startlingly intimate and gives us a look inside the sweeping multicultural life that characterizes M.I.A.’s artistic identity. | Oct 12-14 | Fri 2 & 6pm; Sat-Sun 2 pm | Portland Museum of Art, 7 Congress Sq, Portland | $8 | portlandmuseum.org 

 

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Port City Peep Show returns to Portland House of Music

5. BOO-LESQUE

 

Every year, the bawdy broads of PORT CITY PEEP SHOW put on a Halloween spectacular combining burlesque, music, comedy, drag and a whole bunch of other stuff that is hard to categorize. A witch performing sound healing? Yes! What about some belly dancing? Sure, bring it. Don’t worry though, the pasties and panties will be out in full force just as they should be for any burlesque show worth its salt. Moxie Sazerac has put together a helluva spooky romp filled with butts, boobs and of course a seasonal “boo!” or two. Guests include Pia Louise Capaldi, Cinnamon Maxxine, La Bruja Maldita, Fantasia from Voulez Vouz Cabaret, Dr. Alexa Crowley from Lady Luck Burlesque and a gaggle of other fun performers, as well as live music from Toxic Algae Bloom. | Oct 13 | Sat 8 pm | Portland House of Music and Events, 25 Temple St, Portland | $15 | 21+ | portlandhouseofmusic.com 

  

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Renee Coolbrith (above) joins Erin Davidson, Cyndi Lou, and Brooke Binion for Miss Fits, an all-lady tribute to the horror-punk tradition

6. CANDY APPLES AND RAZOR BLADES

 

I’m not sure who’s wacky idea it was to get a bunch of women together to play the music of the Misfits in honor of Halloween when there are so many ghoulish lady artists to draw inspo from. Siouxie and the Banshees are just standing in the corner rolling their eyes all, “Um hello? Guys? We’re literally standing right here,” and Elvira is down at the wharf, crying and throwing copies of her six studio albums into Casco Bay. But the Misfits were, after all, a horror punk band, and Glenn Danzig does have that long, luxurious Pantene Pro-V hair, so maybe they’re onto something. Drummer Cyndi Lou (formerly of the Hot Tarts), bass player Erin “Dilly Dilly” Davidson (formerly of Cerberus Shoal), TheWorst’s Brooke Binion and Portland’s grande dame of project hopping musicians, singer Renee Coolbrith, get together for MISS FITS: AN ALL GHOUL MISFITS TRIBUTE at Port City Music Hall on Saturday night. Pop-punk band Borderlines will open the show as Bra*Moans, and yes it’s as terrifying as it sounds, folx: the young men of Borderlines will play the hits of the Ramones in lingerie. Make sure you pick up some merch while you’re at this show, too — 100 percent of merch sales from the event will be donated to SARSSM: Sexual Assault Response Services of Southern Maine. | Oct 13 | Sat 9 pm | Port City Music Hall, 504 Congress St, Portland | $8 | 18+ | portcitymusichall.com 

  

7. FEAR IS A REASONABLE RESPONSE TO LIFE

   

Dark hooded figures begin to approach you on the street of your small, Southwestern desert town … a glowing cloud floats in from the west and hovers just above the police station … and just a few doors down, the bake sale is getting underway at the church! WELCOME TO NIGHTVALE! The creepy and surreal long-form storytelling podcast and book series about a mysterious Southwestern town descends upon the State Theatre on Saturday night with a stand-alone story created for their tour, called “A Spy In The Desert.” No episode of Nightvale would be complete without the weather report, of course, so Cecil Baldwin and company have brought their pal Mal Blum and her lyrics-forward depression-rock along on tour as The Weather. Guest voices at any given date on the tour may vary, but Nightvale fans can rest assured they’ll hear at least a few of their favorites, along with some special guests; plus, it’s ok to bring a friend who “doesn’t know yet” to this show — “A Spy In The Desert” will be accessible to newcomers while also satisfying long time fans. | Oct 13 | Sat 8 pm| State Theatre, 609 Congress St, Portland | $35 | All Ages | statetheatreportland.com 

 

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The Pack A.D.

8. MANIC DEPRESSION IS A FRUSTRATING MESS

 

Vancouver, B.C.’s Becky Black and Maya Miller are not only the most alliterative pair of gal pals ever, they’re also THE PACK A.D., a psychedelic garage-punk duo that celebrates the end times that we’re living in as much as they lament them. Touring behind their latest record Dollhouse, Black and Miller stoke their fire with “funny disclosures about depression, indictments of digital excess, grief-stricken fire bombs and sly crusades against stupidity.” Theirs is the stuff that makes you feel a little bit better through commiseration and the sheer power and ferocity of their playing. Opening for the pair is Portland’s own duo FORGET, FORGET, who make loving, genuine and definitively joyful ambient pop laced with neon vocal harmonies, and, bonus: 50 percent of Forget, Forget is pure lady (Patia Maule). What wonderful, progressive world is this we’re living in where 75 percent of the performers at a club show are women? I sure as heck don’t recognize it. | Oct 14 | Sun 7 pm | Portland House of Music and Events, 25 Temple St, Portland | $12 | 21+ | portlandhouseofmusic.com    

 

9. SHUCK YOU!

 

HARVEST ON THE HARBOR is a six-day event that celebrates the fine dining experiences of Portland in an effort to boost business to the local restaurant scene. The festival kicks off on Tuesday with chef’s choice dinners at Sur Lie, Opus Ten and Five Fifty-Five, but you have to be at least a little bit adventurous if you want to participate, because all of the details of the dinners are a surprise. Pay up front for dinner, beverage pairings, tax and tip, and treat yourself to whatever the chef has planned. The rest of the week includes tasting luncheons, a coffee workshop with Coffee By Design, a lobster feast, oyster shucking classes, a “hair of the dog” brunch and a whole bunch of other food and drink related events for Maine’s upper crust types and culinary tourists who can afford to drop $95 on dinner midweek. The event, now in its 11th year, comes hot on the heels of Bon Appetit Magazine naming Portland its 2018 Restaurant City of The Year, so festival organizers might do well to plan for a pop in attendance. | Oct 16-21 | Tue-Sun | Brick South Thompson’s Point and Harvest on The Harbor Festival Tent, 8 Thompson’s Point and 100 West Commercial St, Portland | $45-95 | All Ages | harvestontheharbor.com 

 

10. HE’S A PINBALL WIZARD

 

Welp, you guys, it finally happened: we have reached peak bro territory here in Portland. Arcadia National Bar, home of our city’s largest collection of publicly playable video, pinball and board games, is hosting a HEAD-TO-HEAD BREWERY TOURNAMENT. Two employees from eight Portland area breweries will compete mano a mano in a 16-person elimination tournament of randomly selected games from Arcadia’s collection. With pinball machines, arcade cabinets, modern gaming consoles and Skeeball in the mix, gamers must have a wide range of skills if they want to emerge victorious. Maine Beer Company, Liquid Riot, Baxter, Foundation, Allagash, Definitive, Foulmouthed and Deciduous are all in the competition, and each will have a representative beer on tap. At the end of it all, the winning brewery gets a weeklong tap takeover at the venue. Low-ish stakes for sure, so if you can stand all the 20- and 30-something white dudeness of it all, it’ll likely be hilarious fun. | Oct 16 | Tue 7 pm | Arcadia National Bar, 24 Preble St, Portland | Free | 21+ | arcadiaportland.com

 

11. TITANS OF SYMPHONY

The PORTLAND SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA unveils their version of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 1 in D Major (referred to in its early days by the composer as “Titan”) at Merrill Auditorium on Tuesday evening, conducted by Bruce Hangen and with featured cellist Matt Haimovitz. The symphony’s ethereal opening and expressionist dynamics were shocking and new to audiences when it premiered in 1889, with critics referring to it as a “symphonic poem” rather than a symphony. The PSO pairs it with Ernest Bloch’s Schelomo for a full evening of programming. Directly prior to the event, “young professionals” (which in this case means employed humans between the ages of 21 and 39) are invited to Blythe and Burrows’ Broken Dram “speakeasy” for the season’s first Symphony and Spirits event (at 5 pm), at which attendees can liquor up via happy hour with like minded lovers of classical music. Personally, I’d love to meet this mythical 21-year-old who can afford symphony tickets and a $25 happy hour with an entry-level salary and student loan payments, but let’s humor the PSO on this one, because Mahler’s first work is a really cool one that took him almost a decade to complete, and he did it all before turning 30. | Oct 16 | Tue 5 pm cocktails, 7:30 pm show | Blythe and Burrows 26 Exchange Street, and Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St, Portland | $25-83 | 21+ | portlandsymphony.org   

 

12. STAY GOLD, PONYBOY

 

How long is the Maine Center for Electronic Music going to be around? The sign on the window says that it is a temporary installation, which is a bummer because they’ve had really neat programming in there, from Hi Tiger’s Revlon series to Abelton workshops for new music makers. Whatever the future holds for this little gem of an experimental space, we’ve still got it for now. On Wednesday night, Los Angeles avant-garde electronic artists PROFLIGATE and GEL SET tour through the space with Portland’s heavy techno artist LACK and Iranian-American performance artist ANOUSHE SHOJAE-CHAGHORVAND. This is all cutting edge, outsider stuff, not the kind of dance music you’d hear at the Ultra Music festival or on the dance floor at a Fore Street club on Saturday night. Artists like these are always shapeshifting, so it’s hard to know what to write about what they’re doing at their shows at any given time, but that’s part of the goodness of it: the unknown. And MCEM makes it easy — not sure you want to go? Walk by and peer in the big open windows first to see what shenanigans are unfolding within. | Oct 17 | Wed 8:30 pm | Maine Center for Electronic Music, 511 Congress St, Portland | $5-10 sliding scale | 18+ | mcem207.weebly.com    

 

13. DON’T TRY THIS AT HOME

 

Every so often at Empire, Krister Rollins and Nic Robes host NITECAP!, a variety show that includes comedy, conversation and music. The always very sartorially savvy Rollins hosts the show along with Robes, who does sort of a Paul Shaffer thing, shooting asides and cheeky jokes at his co-host from behind his music rig. Guests of the show always seem to be good natured and handle Rollins’ deadpan-but-cheerful questions and non-sequiturs with a goofy charm. Short sets of comedy from guest comedians, followed by an interview with a special guest, then a musical set from one of Portland’s local artists is the general format, but don’t be surprised if one of the hosts suddenly appears next to your table in the audience, if a game show suddenly begins, or if Robes and Rollins get going riffing off of each other so intensely that they kind of forget anyone is there watching. Guests had not been announced at press time, so you’ll just have to take our word that NITECAP! is a solid way to burn ten bucks on beer and laughter on your hump day. | Oct 17 | Wed 6:30 pm | Empire, 575 Congress St, Portland | $5 | 21+ | venue.portlandempire.com

    

 

Victoria Karol is a contributing writer for the Portland Phoenix, covering local music and the Dance Card listings. She produces Music Video Portland, Maine's video music awards and writes about feminism and culture on her blog hottrashportland.com.

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