Always (unfairly) overshadowed by Seattle, Portland has long been an unsung American musical mecca. Producing legendary acts like the Wipers, the Thermals, and Elliot Smith, as well as modern indie favorites like the Decembrists and the Shins, Portland has a musical history to be proud of, so it’s no surprise that the city is jam-packed with awesome venues. Here are a few of our faves:
Doug Fir Lounge
It’s attached to the Jupiter Hotel, but don’t let that fool you. This place is MUCH more than your average hotel bar. The warm, inviting décor of the Doug Fir Lounge (like an ultra-modern log cabin) is enough to earn it a place on any list of Bridgetown hotspots. Offering cozy fire pits and plenty of seating, as well as specialty cocktails and some truly remarkable New American pub fare, this is a great place to hang out even if you’re not interested in live music. But missing a show here would be a mistake. The venue regularly hosts major national indie acts as well as up and coming hometown heroes, and it does it all in a wonderfully intimate underground space.
830 E Burnside St, Portland, OR. (503) 231-9663 dougfirlounge.com
Columbia River Gorge
Owned by craft-beer giant McMenamins and featuring a hotel, restaurants, a movie theater, two golf courses, a winery, distillery, brewery and brewpub, Edgefield is much more than a live music venue. But what really brings Portlanders to this sprawling estate just outside the city are the summer concerts on the lawn, where you can spread out on the grass and enjoy major touring acts like Wilco and the Flaming Lips in a gorgeous outdoor setting.
2126 SW Halsey Street, Troutdale, OR. (503) 669 8610 mcmenamins.com
Tucked away in a little alley on SW Ankeny St. this hidden gem offers great food, a killer happy hour and loud live music with a hip, dressed-up-dive-bar atmosphere. And when we say intimate, we mean it. Valentine’s only seats about 40 people, so be prepared to squeeze on in as you take in the sounds of some of Portland’s best local acts.
232 SW Ankeny St, Portland, OR. (503) 248-1600 valentinespdx.com
Looking for a great jazz club in Portland? Jimmy Mak’s is the place for you. Featuring cozy seating a great menu, and the cool, dimly lit atmosphere you want in a classic jazz lounge, this Pearl District hotspot has become the go-to destination for cold drinks and hot jazz in Bridge City (Down Beat Magazine even listed it in their top 100 places in the world to hear jazz).
221 NW 10th Ave, Portland, OR. (503) 295-6542 jimmymaks.com
While today it might just be your average indie rock club, Dante’s deserves to be on the list due to its history alone. In the late 70’s and early 80’s the club was called the Metropolis, better known as ‘The Met,’ and it played host to the likes of Portland punk pioneers and grunge forefathers, The Wipers, while also serving as a popular hangout for the cross sections of the city’s more colorful communities (it was also famously one of Courtney Love’s favorite early hangouts). Stop by any given weekend for reasonably priced drinks and cutting edge comedy, cabaret and, of course, Rock n Roll.
1 SW 3rd Ave, Portland, OR (503) 226-6630 danteslive.com