SPICE OF LIFE | Take my advice and unplug from current events. Turn your phone off (heck, why not leave it at home for once?). Link up with your favorite human, and attend this variety show brought on by the Art Department and Bomb Diggity Arts. Hilarity will likely ensue, and you could use a dose of that. If you’re craving something a little out of this world, stick around for Tim Coombs’s directorial debut — he’ll be screening a short film that features samurai in space. Very cool.
| $8 | 7 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | www.space538.org
FREE HATE SPEECH | The University of Southern Maine is truly committed to making their campus welcoming to all peoples: including those that think homosexuality is a sin, abortion is worse than rape, and that immigrants are usually criminals. USM officials have green-lit a discussion called “Alien Invasion: Fixing the Immigration Crisis,” led by state legislator Larry Lockman, who has a history of spouting hateful remarks. The Portland Racial Justice Congress is cooking up a protest, which will likely be three times the size of Lockman’s audience. Attend, question, and counter bigotry with reason; but don’t turn the situation into a mini U.C. Berkeley, with violence and silencing, because that plays right into the opposition’s hands.
| FREE | 7 pm | USM, 96 Falmouth Street | http://usm.maine.edu/
SNIFF A WINNER | What’s that smell? Is it stale beer drying on the floor? Is it the sweaty pits of some hard-edged rockers? Is it the smoke from the burning remains of this country’s moral and ethical fabric? Or did the bathrooms at Geno’s just take their regular beating? Figure out the source of the miasma, at this intense rock concert that features the sad bastards of Alcoa, the raw dawgs of Cold Collective, the metalcore mavericks of Mill Fire, and the thunderous gentlemen of Battery Steele. Scream, smell, rock out, repeat.
| $5 | 9 pm | Geno’s Rock Club, 625 Congress St., Portland | 21 +
UP YOUR GAME | With smartphones and selfie culture, everyone fancies themselves a photographer. But few people really get it: the unwritten (and written) rules that make photography a learned craft, and ensure that only the best photographers get the Instagram likes, exposure, and praise. Learn some tips and tricks from seasoned Portland Press Herald photojournalists, who know not just how to take (and edit) a good photo on a technical level, but how to tell a story and convey emotion through the medium.
| FREE | 7 pm | Portland Public Library, 5 Monument Sq., Portland | https://www.portlandlibrary.com/
The Shut Down Brown band can infuse some energy into your Friday night.
BIG TIME, GOOD TIME | Shake off the winter blahs, the political yucks, the post V-Day awws, or whatever’s bringing you down with the reliably raucous, Shut Down Brown band. Raised in the hills of Oxford county, this rhythm quartet brings down a hammer of funk, rock, and soul, with style and a sense of professional raunchiness. Chances are you know this already. Skosh will open with some sweet sax-driven tunes.
| $10 | 8 pm | Portland House of Music and Events, 25 Temple St., Portland | http://www.portlandhouseofmusic.com/
Dinner and a movie is so overrated. Take your SO to the Circus Cabaret instead.
CUPID’S NIGHT | If you’re taking your loved one out to dinner and a movie for Valentine’s, don’t expect to win any points for creativity. However, if you take them to the Circus Cabaret for a night of high-flying performances, then you’ll be praised for your imagination! It’s really a unique event. While the acrobats at Circus Maine spin and tumble overhead, embrace your partner and relish the absurdity of it all. If you miss this first show, don’t fret; there are performances scheduled all weekend.
| $16 | 7 pm | Circus Maine, 4 Thompson’s Pt., Portland | http://circusmaine.org/
The East Pointers skillfully blend old and new styles. Photo By: Mark Maryanovich
OLD, YET NEW | “Traditional music,” is an ambiguous sounding genre isn’t it? Every continent has its version of folk music, and one band, The East Pointers are rolling through town to showcase Australia's version of it, with their new album Secret Victory. This trio is making old sounds hip again. Oddly enough, they still exude some Celtic vibes, but still provide an “adrenalized, roof-rattling, and infectiously danceable,” music experience.
| $12 | 8 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | https://onelongfellowsquare.com
FIGHT THE GOOD FIGHT | Another day, another protest in Monument Square. For those that aren’t yet exhausted at standing up for truth, justice and basic human rights, a rally is scheduled for this afternoon to imagine, create and demand a future where everyone has access to affordable health care. Folks will be holding the dangerously moderate Senator Susan Collins accountable by urging her to attend a People’s Forum on the Human Right to Health Care, where she can learn from voters on the front lines of this issue why her ACA replacement proposal stinks bigtime. Gather with other Portland activists to demand that policies center themselves around human rights. (We’re still protesting this shit?)
| FREE | Noon | Monument Square, Portland | http://www.maineworkers.org/
Not many people can explain what's going on inside Alan Cumming's head.
WIT AND CHARM | I don’t know much about the Tony-award winning actor, singer and author Alan Cumming, but I do know what people have said about him. The naughty performer has secured numerous favorable reviews and has been described as “raucous, wildly entertaining, and a shape-shifting trickster.” If you’re into BIG personalities on stage, head to Merrill for a performance of sappy songs, and intimate stories from the provocateur himself.
| $45 | 8 pm | Merrill Auditorium, 20 Myrtle St., Portland | http://portlandovations.org/
Do you like pop songs with intelligent lyrics worth pondering? Check out Wrabel performing at One Longfellow Square.
YES YOU CAN | Specializing in music that telescopes small moments into songs with big impact is Wrabel, a pop singer/songwriter with a valuable perspective on life. He inspires new listeners, and reminds his longtime fans, that whatever difficult thing they might be going through, they’re not alone. Witness the healing power of music, when this intellectual tour-de-force takes the stage for a night of powerful self-expression. He’s joined by the Brooklyn singer/songwriter Jesse Ruben, who’s been spreading similar messages across the country.
| $15 | 8 pm | One Longfellow Square, 181 State St., Portland | https://onelongfellowsquare.com/
LOW-KEY PARTY | The fusion band Sassquatch is emerging from the woods of central Maine, alongside the sassy funk fiends of Miss Fairchild, and the 10-piece indie-pop band Monarck Lisa, for a night of good intentions. Go out there and ask a pretty girl to dance.
| $8 | 8 pm | Portland House of Music and Events, 25 Temple St., Portland | http://www.portlandhouseofmusic.com/
APPROVED APPROPRIATION | The only kinds of cultural appropriation we approve of are the ones that don’t delegitimize (or take advantage of) a culture, and actually provide tangible benefits. In this case, we’re talking about yoga, the most popular activity we borrowed from the East behind eating massive bowls of pho. If you’ve ever been curious about the health benefits of yoga, or want to learn what’s behind the hubbub of massage, reiki, polarity, sacred sexuality, or cosmic consciousness, this event’s your best chance of doing so. The Arcana Yoga Studio is offering FREE courses all day, to those that really want their third eye opened, and don’t want to dish out some cash in the process.
| FREE | 9 am to 6 pm | Arcana, 81 Market St., Portland |http://arcanamaine.com/
The Maine-via-Malwaukee rapper milo will perform at the SPACE Gallery this Sunday.
QUIP-SMART | The Maine-via-Milwaukee rapper milo (born Rory Ferreira) is a dynamo. His last album, the fantastic So the Flies Don't Come, was lauded as a lyrical feast by hip-hop critics throughout the country. He's one of the most dynamic, versatile, and wisecracking young rappers in the game — and he's only 25. Milo returns to Maine (he grew up in Saco) to play a show at SPACE Gallery (and possibly visit his mother, Shay Stewart-Bouley, who writes for this paper). The dude's on tour with the Brooklyn rapper Elucid, and play with local supporter Lyokha, the synth-wave project of Portland's Jimmy Cooper.
| $8 adv, $10 day of | 8:30 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | http://www.space538.org/
DANCE IT OFF | Tilt your head downward right now. Is there a little bit more belly pudge sitting in your lap than you’d like? Have you been stocking up on hearty foods, took an extended break from exercise, and feel sluggish as a result? Might I suggest dancing to break the habit of seasonal laziness? The nationally renowned dancer Louis Marin is visiting the Casco Bay Movers studio today to teach Portlanders some fun, powerful, and graceful ways to decorate space with their bodies. Join them; you’ll feel better.
| $17 | 8:30 pm | Casco Bay Movers, 517 Forest Ave., Portland | http://www.cascobaymovers.com/
THE FUTURE IS BLACK | I suspect that with all the rage and frustrations floating around the community nowadays that metal will be making a cultural comeback. We need a new artistic form of resistance, a new way to say “life sucks” without floating too close to the mainstream. We need sludge rock. Let’s make nihilism great again. The Body can help. The duo has been described as the most brutal band on the planet, with “ravishing grimness and impenetrable walls of noise.” Those demons are joined by the pitch-black spectral sounds of Muslin, and the shape-shifting collective Cuse Me. Abandon all hope, ye who enter the SPACE Gallery this night.
| $12 | 8 pm | SPACE Gallery, 538 Congress St., Portland | http://www.space538.org/
SEA DEAL | For something that tastes like salty snot with sand sprinkled on it, oysters sure can be expensive. But if you’ve got a craving for slimy delicacies, ride the elevator up to the Top of the East, where their oysters are only $1. Slurp their innards, and gaze out across that all familiar, but still beautiful, view of downtown Portland.
| VARIED | 5 pm | Top of the East, 157 High St., Portland | http://www.thetopoftheeast.com/
Isn't this little self-sustaining world just adorable? Why not make your own?
MINI ECOSYSTEM | The world kinda sucks right now, so why not create your own? Head over to Oxbow Brewing, sip on a tall, creamy stout, and take part in this oddly relaxing terrarium workshop. With stones, shells, plants, soil and succulents, you’ll craft the parameters needed for your own glass-encased, sustainable, and 100 percent alive little world.
| $30 | 8:30 pm | Oxbow Brewing, 49 Washington Ave., Portland | http://oxbowbeer.com/
GET SCHWIFTY | You look like you could use a margarita, or three. Might as well indulge on National Margarita Day! Head over to Tortilla Flat on outer Forest Ave., for mad deals, free giveaways and some spicy/salty libations. Salud!
| VARIED | 5 pm | Tortilla Flat, 1871 Forest Ave., Portland | http://www.tortillaflatmexican.com/
WILD MEDICINE | Portland’s holistic healers might be onto something big: carrots. That’s right carrots. What about 'em? Some claim that their juices can be used to aid in both fertility and contraception. Mischa from Wild Carrot Herbs will be hosting a workshop at Urban Farm that delves into the extraordinarily varied uses of carrot tinctures.
| $12 | 5:30 pm | Urban Farm Fermentory, 200 Anderson St., Portland | https://www.fermentory.com/
FUNNY ATROCITIES | Promising you’ll never think of Stalinist Russia, Shakespeare, and Yiddish culture the same way again (and why would you?) is Paul Goldberg, an author hellbent on proving that the Jews do not use blood for religious rituals. He’ll be leading a discussion on historical fiction at Portland’s newest bookstore, right after he presents his daring debut novel, The Yid. If you like violence, philosophy, dark humor and learning about The Motherland, I recommend you pick this one up.
| FREE | 7 pm | PRINT Bookstore, 273 Congress St., Portland | http://www.printbookstore.com/
A SLOW WINTER | Looking ahead to the best local events of next week offers much to break up this slow, and dreadful winter. SPACE Gallery is hosting another no-holds-barred metal show, Empire’s cooking up another Tribute night, the Maine Historical Society is planning an interesting lecture on the importance of color in World War I, and one of the best new foreign films of last year is screening at the PMA. Stay tuned, kiddos.