For almost 30 years, Laurelthirst Public House has been building a sense of community centered around folk, bluegrass and Americana music in Portland. It’s got the spotlight in this month’s Know Your Venue feature.
In a corner of SE Portland’s Brooklyn neighborhood, a blue sign glows. This midnight oasis known as The Twilight is somewhat of an oddity. It can be a little tricky to get to, and it’s a bar between a weed dispensary and a post office on an eerie stretch of Powell Blvd. There have been a few resurrections of the Twilight, and from its strip-mall facade it’s hard to tell that it houses a live music venue.
Walking in you’ll find a cozy bar, booths, and tables. There’s a “Sappy Hour” and a menu that taunts The 50/50 Burger (half beef, half bacon), a French Dip, and vegan/veggie/gluten free options for days. There’s an insane selection of brews and ciders on tap.
As night falls, behold a separate room with a 4ft. stage and plenty of space to dance or thrash. The stage art is a whirling backdrop into another dimension. It’s an effect that was painted by one of the employees, apparently fueled by rum and cokes. It might make you dizzy if you’re tipsy, but it definitely makes show photos look great.
“When I first played the Twilight there was no stage, it was very DIY.” says booker Jimmy Armstrong, “Since then we have kind of gutted the room and made it suitable for larger audiences. The stage works out for those who are vertically challenged or don’t feel comfortable being up front, you can still watch a show from the back of the house and performers can see for miles.”
Most bands that come through the Twilight are from the unknown. It’s a line-up of new names; There are a lot of touring bands as well as new bands that are just getting started. It’s mostly punk, metal, rock, and alternative, but there may be a solo/acoustic act or bluegrass band tucked into the very full calendar. There’s new lighting and a brand new sound system, just in time for the 127 bands booked in AUGUST. That includes Twilight Fest at the end of the month, which is a continuation and collaboration of Centaur Guitar’s by-gone Centaur-Palooza. Twilight Fest will be a 3 day festival with 40 bands and 2 stages, and since a lot of it will be going on in Twilight’s huge parking lot, the venue’s normal 21+ status will be extended to the all-ages crowd during day shows.
“I like to think we are the little venue that could,” says Armstrong, as he tells me about the changes The Twilight has gone through since new owners and employees took over in 2014. “We have grown to be a tight knit family. Everyone has worked hard and stuck with it to make a legit venue for bands to play. We are a diverse venue and a safe place for bands and patrons to interact and have fun. We are here for your sweat-soaked, rock ‘n’ roll, boozy needs all summer long!” »