Hopworks Urban Brewery (The HUB)
I want the “Merry” brought back to Christmas. Peace on Earth and goodwill to men is a lovely holiday message, but some of us are more intrigued by the fallen angel than the sugar plum fairy. Thank goodness for Storm Large or this would just be another holiday of personal spiritual awakening. Storm Large brings on the Merry. Judging by the sold out crowds at the Aladdin tonight, I am not the only one who wants some naughty with the nice.
This girl has the package. If not for her powerful vocals, one could easily be swept away by her stunning beauty. There is a physicality to Storm’s performance that is simply beautiful to watch. But this woman also has a lively soul seemingly full of contradictions that leaves the audience constantly trying to keep up or figure out her next antic. She gallantly enters the stage wearing an elegant red carpet style gown, only to converse with the audience like a truck driver. Her songs tonight range from the classic “Holy Night” to conclude with the equally classic, “My Vagina is Eight Miles Wide.” Her behavioral range varies from peaceful, even calming, to totally raunchy. Storm offers up something for everyone, just like her signature vagina tribute song, “Absolutely anyone can come inside.”
Storm also dazzles the audience with her musical guests. One of my favorite moments includes the Von Trapp family’s charming rendering of a French Christmas song. The other is when Storm is joined by singer, Julianne Johnson. Their execution of “Holy Night” defines the spirituality of Christmas. It was simply jaw dropping. It was the first time I had heard Johnson sing, but it will not be the last. She is one of the singers from the production, “Christmas at the Old Church.” This has now been added to my “Must See” list.
On our way home, we decide to stop at the Hopworks Urban Brewery (The HUB). I am hungry and Mark is thirsty. In addition to its many hop-related offerings, the HUB also has a small list of cocktails and cider. Tonight, however, the cold late November chill has left me more hungry than thirsty. I really like the menu here. It is large. There are many options for even a picky eater like myself. My German heritage begs for the pretzels. I now understand why the menu labels these warm house-made pretzels as “famous.” Served with a lager mustard and beer cheese sauce, I find myself singing Christmas songs in German. This is an appetizer you will want to share because the sticks are quite sizable. I finish with the black bean corn cakes with cilantro lime and sriracha aioli sauce. Thankfully, the portion size is reasonable and not over the top huge. But I would love a second round of the sauces because they are hella good.
This venue was supposedly open seating. After standing in the cold for at least a half an hour, hoping to snag some decent seats, it was disappointing to find that about one third of the downstairs seats were marked as reserved. I realize that the Aladdin is not a huge theater, affording everyone attending a pretty intimate production. But for the many people, young and old, who came even earlier than we did, braving the chilly elements, it had to have felt a bit disconcerting to see so many seats unavailable to them.
Storm is Portland institution, although that may not be the best adjective. We have seen her perform many times over the years and her Christmas show is always great time.
She has a great voice and always sings with passion. She is also funny as hell, with monologues between songs of seemingly random thoughts that are raunchy and somehow manage to be both liberal and non-PC at the same time. At what Christmas show will you see a made of Starbucks Christmas cups? My kind of show.
Kerry and I often talk about the difference between a musician and a performer. Storm is both and as good as they get in each category. Besides Storm there were were multiple guests performers joining her on stage for almost an old time variety show. I particularly liked an acapella rendition of an old French song by the von Trapps singers. Yep. Those von Trapps. And they live in Portland.
The show was in the Aladdin theater, one of the old Portland movies theater with a slightly Arabian Night themes : Aladdin, Bagdad, and Hollywood. You don’t remember the story of Hollywood in Arabian Nights? You need to go reread the book. I remember the Oriental on Grand, torn down in 1970. It had the most ornate pseud0-oriental insides. I saw Dr Doolittle there just before it was demolished. As shame, as even in its senescence it had the coolest interior. McMenamins could have made it a great venue.
You can tell from seats that people were a lot smaller back in the day. These old chairs are narrow. But it is a small enough venue that there are no bad seats in the house and it was nice to have a show that was not amplified to the point I had to use ear plugs.
I usually bitch, moan and whine about the Christmas season. It is mostly an inconvenience and much of the ‘art’ that accompanies it (TV, music, movies) is crap. Storms show is one of the few holiday traditions I enjoy.
Hop Works Urban Brewery
Dinner after the show? We opted for HUB on Powell. I have driven by many times in my eternal quest to find a route home from west to east the avoids the I84 parking lot.
A nice industrial inside, the bike bar section is filled with the skeletons of dead bicycles as a decorative motif, with less of the dark wood that dominates most lounges.
They have beer, cocktails and a large food menu. Not only is the menu large, but so are the portions even from the happy hour menu. The pretzels are the size of small baguette and made me feel inadequate.
I’m talking cooking here people. I enjoy cooking and have tried, and failed, at pretzels many times.
When I think sliders, I think of a portion the size of a White Castle burger, at best 4 bites per slider. The pulled pork ’slider’ was just a bit smaller than a Big Mac and a lot better tasting. Two sliders is enough for two people.
The beer? I tried the taster, 10 three oz samples.
Almost all were delicious and it is fun to try a variety of beers at one setting. Except. I am not a porter/stout fan. To my palate they are ok, but the Russian Imperial Stout was butt. I rarely leave anything behind, especially beer, but one sip and I was done. It turns out when researching the beer style that it is supposed to taste like the rotting corpse of Rasputin. Who knew?
We will definitely go back, especially since the restaurant side is kid friendly, and while my 18 year old does not consider himself a kid, he is still three years away from joining us at lounges.
And, to make Kerry happy, they even have parking.